Giorgio Andreotta Calò’s first solo show, entitled Atto Terzo. Volver (Third Act. Volver, 2009), was ambitious and inspired. A single-channel video projection occupied the gallery’s entire second floor. The work portrays the artist in a small boat hanging from a rotating jib on the roof of the gallery, and affords a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area. Andreotta Calò appears to be steering the boat, but his efforts to control it are without effect, since the craft is suspended from the crane. The romantic visual motif of the horizon is interspersed with the vista of the industrial environs surrounding the gallery, which is located in an outer district of the city that is still undergoing gentrification.
From the projection room, a door leads up to the gallery roof, where the boat from the film lies in a large puddle of water, cut in two surgically along its bottom, like an open clam. Here, viewers find themselves immersed in the urban landscape depicted in the video; the crane seen in the video standing still and silent, far away amongst the buildings under construction. With this allegorical portrayal, Andreotta Calò has absorbed the feeling of isolation amidst the suburban sprawl, and the sounds of construction work, into his subjective mythology, much in the romantic tradition of the artist who stands alone facing the infinite.
The installation is part of the artist’s ongoing series of works ‘Il Prodigioso Cristo di Limpias’ (The Prodigious Christ of Limpias), which began in 2008 with the artist walking 1,600 kilometres between France, Spain and Portugal. Underscoring the importance of landscape in the artist’s oeuvre, this earlier piece functions as an endurance test for the figure of the artist as a compulsive explorer of boundaries, and, more generally, for the limitations of the body – solitude turns into a vehicle for the limits of human experience. With these works, Andreotta Calò seems to embrace an Italian tradition that spans from the films of Michelangelo Antonioni to Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra (2008): like them, he turns the peripheral zone between city and country into a realm of psychological and social metaphor, a terrain of solipsism and collective uncertainty.
First published in Issue 123