Nell'aria I (Luca Vitone at Eco e Narciso)
Viewing the imposing ex-boarding school for women of Perosa Argentina, vacated and for many years abandoned, it is easy to feel a sensation of distance. None too few transformations were required throughout the decades by the local manufacturing industries that drastically changed many of the places which were once the pride of regions like Piedmont. Even from this architectural site, viewing the factory a little further downstream, one feels the atmosphere that the women laborers breathed in those surroundings. Observing the austere disposition of the large rooms, the long metal washstands, the narrow corridors and the steep stairways, one feels even more of a sensation associated with all those stories, cases and human vicissitudes interwoven throughout the decades. Like an echo reemerging from the past, you can hear the music and songs rise up and meander throughout the vast stories and stairways.
In one narrow room you unexpectedly come upon an antique skein winder. Wandering from floor to floor, there flows a sequence of impressions and thoughts that escape easy explanation: some old song seems to evoke specific situations, but at the same time we lose not so much the connections but the keys for understanding experiences lived in a time that has become "other".
All of Luca Vitone's works are born of a symptomatic inner attitude: the care, almost a form of "auscultation" the artist develops toward aspects, even minimum ones, singled out and highlighted in the environment, in a spot examined. This logic of attention, sometimes visible, but more often subterranean, which selects phenomena and characteristics that are particularly significant in the history of a place and environmental setting (but also of a moment that is historically identified, a moment of the life of certain people, a social or ethnic group), becomes the preferential terrain of exploration, real and metaphorical.
Vitone does not seek sensational approaches – his procedure combines the secluded rigor of the archeologist with the calm attention of the archivist. Through the dense stratifications of history in the scenes he identifies, he draws out suggestions that are apparently farther, as though buried by the surrounding reality. Suggestions that go beyond immediate memories and unwind in secret recesses. The work of excavation is activated, as it often is in particular exhibitions where the artist creates unexpected installations (as in the exhibitions at Villa Medici in Rome, La Ville, Le Jardin, La Mémoire or the Casino Luxembourg, a few seasons ago).
This work finds a strong connotation and level of interpretation in an action that is only apparently anonymous and that is far from the condition of artists who put their own presence in the foreground. Through discrete surprises, a masterful orchestration of the installed elements that are "situated", the result appears after a solitary and progressive work of analysis, anamnesis and knowledge, the characteristics typical of an excavation, a "to-the-source" process, the intent of which is to uncover and bring to light.
Thus in the case of the large installation mounted at Perosa Argentina, where the entire building is charged with resonances and particular sounds, the vibrations produced reactivate the perception of the past that is no longer remote.
After all, the essence of Vitone's attitude is in conscious opposition to the sense of wear produced when faced with so many images, often uselessly aesthetisizing. Every project developed by this artist leads the spectators to retrace the stages and passages he has connected to investigate and substantiate his interpretation. In this case too, a simple working tool, the wooden skein winder (much like an accordion) or the songs evoked of the original places of the female laborers, produce not the simple sum of particular memories but rather the sensation of a learning moment through which the deepest bonds that made up human relations come to the surface. The attention threshold implicit in works like this one is substantial, but even more subtle is the sight and hearing of the artist and the intrigued observers.
Francesco Bernardelli, 2003
[from "Eco e Narciso. Cultura Materiale/arte" catalogue]