With an ongoing pandemic and a series of lock-downs imposed on the Italian regions, in Europe, and in the world, Alberto Tadiello decided to work on the core of his personal exhibition in a gallery in Vienna, imposing on himself to use, both materially and conceptually, what he already had in his studio in Belluno. MALACLIPTICOPTIROSI includes sculptural works as well as drawings, works that are both dry and precise, like the artist defines them in an e-mail which he sent to me to tell me about the path he has been following.
He also explained to me the title of the exhibition, MALACLIPTICOPTIROSI, a series of consonants preceded by “mala” never promised anything good, and in fact this word is a spell, or actually I should say a curse, pronounced by Merlin at the peak of a magic battle with Madam Mim in the animated film The Sword in the Stone (1963). Merlin shrinks in size to fight his opponent with a magic wand, until he becomes as microscopic as a germ, which attacks the body of Madam Mim, who falls ill in bed. If Madam Mim were in 2021, she would probably react against Merlin with a counter-spell in the form of a vaccine.
The date of the exhibition has been postponed, Alberto has been bringing me up to speed by sending images and videos of the works he has developed; other pieces, which he had mentioned a few weeks ago, are no longer included. The exhibition has been fleshed out, but at the same time it has started to revolve around plastic-sculptural pivots, as well as around dynamic movements, be they hinted at or actual, which capture the viewers’ senses.
Blind#1 and Blind#2 are two self-moving wall sculptures that “reverberate lights and sounds” and are articulated as “elementary nervous systems”; if we want to anthropomorphise them, they have heads with eyes, a nose, and a mouth. My visual memory associates Alberto Tadiello’s new sculptures called Blind (that is Blinded, like the LED that animate them) to the eye-eyebrows of the robot that is the protagonist of the animated film Wall-E (2008). Wall-E is the acronym of “Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth-Class”; our anti-hero has remained alone in a future world that is made of garbage, and where humans are absent, and he spends his days by saving objects that have no longer a function, but which he finds special and reanimates, amidst piles of electronic waste. The metallic noises that Wall-E emits to communicate can be compared to the sounds which, as Alberto explains, are syncopated sampling of recordings made in proximity of calls for tree frogs – small frogs, for those of you who are not used to the countryside.
Tadiello talks to me about his reference artistic horizon for this exhibition as a “bare, washed-out, and dazed aesthetic landscape”; I figure the artist as a wayfarer who goes through waste lands, covered in snow, who can adapt and make the most of the scarce equipment he has within reach. Then he writes something a little unsettling: in his intentions, what the works in question have in common is an empty, hollow centre. Instead, I see care and a combative obstinacy in the roundness of the electrical objects as well as in the engraved panels, which seem to me to scream, whirl, and finally burn. They are activated by absence, instead of being switched off or defeated by it.
Ossicodone [oxycodone] is the title recalling an opioid, a pain-killer that can become addictive, of a series of three panels of pressed chipboard where the artist applies a rotating, obsessive movement, a movement of digging, engraving. The mechanical gesture frees or holds the faces, as the genesis of an animation that could become appeased or, on the opposite, lose control and get out of axis. The surface screams, darkened by the circles that swarm so much as to turn into whirlpools, eddies, black holes.
Caterina Riva, L’urlo (The Scream), Wien 2021. (catalogue of the exhibition)