Raimondo Fassa - The "Trasparent Horizons" of Bianco-Valente, 2008
Moving frenetically between their native Naples and the “other” four corners of the world, for the past thirteen years Giovanna Bianco e Pino Valente (he a geologist manqué and she a language and cinema studies graduate) have shared both their life (they are husband and wife) and their art.
Then, one evening, Vittoria Broggini, our exhibition manager, introduced them to me at a restaurant here in Gallarate, and I was bowled over. Not just by their warm humanity (un-rhetorically “Parthenopean”), but also by the intellectual stimuli that only two talkers of their calibre can provide.
For example they talked to us - even before art - about a spectacular lifestyle choice they had made. In 2001 they embarked on a project, to do with voyages and astral influences, to try to establish – by personal experience - the truth behind an ancient astrological-astronomic theory which presupposes the existence of cycles which every living being is inextricably caught up in - and the possibility, by travelling the earth at the beginning of every cycle, of influencing future events. And so every year they set off on one of their “extreme” voyages, amongst inaccessible deserts and dazzling aurora borealis!
But it would be a mistake to think of them merely as an eccentric couple (in deference to a late Romantic cliché that insists that all artists are …). In actual fact, one rarely finds an artistic production of such sunny – and at the same time icy – rationality.
These aspects will be analysed in greater detail by those who will supersede me in this catalogue.
I will limit myself here to indicating just some of the idols (in the Baconian sense of the word) which this exhibition by Bianco-Valente extirpates, and which justifies its inclusion in this year's edition of Filosofarti .
The first is the contraposition between art, on the one hand, and science and technology on the other. Not just because their works of art make use, in a highly restrained way, of the most sophisticated technical utensils, but also (and above all) because they attribute to art a strictly cognitive function. They seem to reject both the Romantic-Decadent idea of art as the abode of irrationality and the “contemporary” concept of an art that produces knowledge only per accidens 1. They seem instead to agree with Alain Badiou's 2 proposition, according to which art is a “truth procedure” – capable, that is, of “thinking” truth in its phenomenal manifestation - so that artistic creation can be seen as a “singular” and “immanent” event, with its own particular “thought”.
The second idol to be toppled is the idea – that originated with Descartes but keeps recurring – of a dualism between mind and body, between the mental and the physical substance. And not in the sense of an improbable “synthesis”. Synthesis is in fact a sort of “third” element which reconciles and overcomes two antithetical elements. Centrality, which for Bianco-Valente assumes a sensorial dimension (not just visual but also, and contemporaneously, sonorous), moves, instead, à rebours , leading us back through the work of art to that germinative moment at the origin of the experience, which occurs before the antithesis itself is produced.
The third disputed idol of Bianco-Valente – whose work, significantly, has been indicated as symptomatic of an emergent “third culture” – is the contraposition between man and machine (which has as its corollary the dualism between the so-called “two cultures” technical-scientific and humanistic), whose spurious nature is made clearly felt.
In actual fact, machines – especially modern-day machines, increasingly sophisticated and therefore more and more similar to us – are “condensed human experiences-knowledge”. And it is through them that we are able shed light on certain aspects of our existence that otherwise would remain obscure to us. There is, in other words, no antithesis between nature and culture, between technology and life. Man is a “naturally cultural” animal – Bianco-Valente's work (the fact that it is so attentive to the conquests of neurobiology and artificial intelligence is no coincidence) seems to say– originally well disposed towards a téchne that is not in contraposition with his life experience, but rather is born out of it, and therefore is capable of producing a sort of “second nature”. For this reason the exhibition introduced here is ideally linked to last year's, dedicated to the Catalan artist Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca - and in a certain sense completes it.
So I wasn't totally wrong when, hearing ‘Bianco-Valente' mentioned for the first time, I thought (I'm ashamed to say!) that it was one single artist ( first name Bianco and surname Valente!).
Because through a profoundly united artistic and life experience, not only in actions but also in terms of content and form, these two live-wire cosmopolitan Neapolitans have in fact succeeded in providing us with a great ethical admonition. Exhorting us, that is, to abandon our “separateness” so that we can break down the barriers which we put up every day, between us and life.
Which is there before us only if we have the courage to live it, as in this exhibition, in the infinite “transparencies” of its aurora “horizons”.
1) As claimed, for example, in M. Ferraris, La fidanzata automatica , Milan 2007 (à propos of which I would like to refer readers to R. Fassa, Per l'Arte contro i suoi meccanismi , “ Il Domenicale” , January 12, 2008).
2) A. Badiou, Inestetica (The Handbook of Inaesthetics) , Milan 2008.
Taken from visibile invisibile, Bianco-Valente Opere video e ambienti 1995-2008, SHINfactory, Brescia_Paris, 2008