Stuff of which shadows are made of?
“we are such stuff as dreams are made of” Prospero says in the act 4 of the Tempest by W. Shakespeare. Of the two recurrent translations of the word “stuff” in Italian, as sostanza or materia we want to consider the last one and to replace the word dreams with “shadows”, without making any change in Shakespeare’s imaginary – the shadow is accompanied by the dream in “A midnight ‘s dream”.
Nevertheless, how to replace “we”? Tony Fiorentino‘s art exhibition titled “Shadows” gives an answer to this.
His art objects are made of the same stuff of the shadows: the aim of the artist is to define the trait d’union, that establish this identity.
So that, we can answer the question which titles this short analysis. We know shadow as a dark figure, cast on some surface by a body between the area and the source of light. It is the evidence of the existence of an object. It is the presence of something else. In its own way, even an art object stands for an otherness: it appears as the presence of an object we could no longer see in its original status of body-source, but in its form as an artifact or action.
In the art objects exhibited in this show by Tony Fiorentino, the consideration on the stuff concerns the physical appearance but also the “invisible presence” hidden behind that : anecdotes, memories, evidences, processes, mostly people. Behind the passionate research of found object and waste materials, which characterizes almost every work of Tony Fiorentino, Shadows, at first tries to emphasize the role of close friends , strangers met occasionally, existent people never met, in the genesis of the artifacts.
Therefore the installation “I like an arch” comes from a story that Louis Kahn used to tell his students at Yale University. In this anecdote was asked to a brick, capable of will and word, what it would like to be, and it answered recurringly “I like an arch”. In the stubbornness of the brick, and in the moral the American architect sees in this tale, he invites to always honour, in the best way, the material without taking advantage of them.
Tony Fiorentino does the same invitation, collecting waste marble from the Veneranda Fabbrica of the Duomo di Milano, to recompose them into three huge totems. From the single stone, he gets something more, something bigger and taller. In a similar way Tony Fiorentino uses votive candles collected from churches in Milan: it’s about 400 hundred used candles, destined to be recycled to make new ones. The artist recovers them to form an expanse of expressed prayers, not completely consumed, for an “untitled” installation.
“Shadows” of people directly met from the author are projected by works as “Misellatum Pharallelus “and “Astro”. Both works confirm the attention of the artist to the natural element, to a flora and a fauna with their load of symbolism as a rough product of the imagination.
“Misellatum”, in the same way as “I like an arch”, combines single pre-existent items to create a new object, gifted with an independent meaning; in this case the artist created, on the model of the bust of a friend, a bronze bust without arms . The cavity of the arms and of the waist, put together with a shark jaw, form a monstrous creature, coming from who-knows-what bizarre bestiary.
Astro is instead an imaginary plant consisting of two long branches and subsequent thin ramifications, formed by torches casting used by the artist to let the cast bronze reach the parts of the mold. It also represents the meeting between the artist and workers of the factory who manufactured the bust of Misellatum.
Each one in its own measure, the works in this exhibition show, at the same time a playful and wise attitude, gazing at Art as vehicle of two different proofs. The former visible and linked to the material: disused and reused object, undone and recomposed object honoured by a new identity, overlapping the previous one. The latter invisible, connected to experiences and people – known or never met, coming from the present or from the past – who contributed to give a new life to the objects, and continuing to live as arts objects.