Entering the PAC of Milan (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea) for the retrospective of Luca Vitone (the Genoese artist, who lives in Berlin, has exhibited in various international galleries and at the Venice Biennale), the visitor is immediately struck by a kind of commemorative plaque of an eye inside a triangle. The title, “Souvenir d’Italie (Lapide)”, ironically represents the symbol of the P2 Masonic lodge, the secret organization that aspired to bring about an anti-democratic change to Italy. A very long list of names occupies almost the entire wall opposite the plaque: they are the members of the lodge (title: “Souvenir d’Italie, Foundations of the Second Republic”).
If with this work Vitone makes us descend into the historical-political reality of the second half of the twentieth century, through the forms of power aimed at subversion (from the list of members: bankers, politicians, journalists), his other works speak to us of the same theme using different materials. “Imperium” is the title of four monochromes, painted by mixing watercolor with the dust collected from four prestigious German institutions: the Central Bank, the Parliament, the Pergamon museum, all symbolic places of economic, political and cultural power. Power is also represented through an “olfactory sculpture”: a perfume (created by the artist himself) that diffuses in the air, first in a pleasant way, then becomes nauseating.
In the next room, the attention is directed to a multitude of flags (black, edged with red, with writings and a red wheel in the center); looking at them more closely, one can see that the flags are without a pole because they do not represent national power, but they address the condition of the Romani people (the wheel is a symbol of their ethnic group) and that of migrants in general.
The writing on one of the flags, “Il movimento è tutto, il fine è nulla” (Movement is all, the end is nowhere), refers not only to the continuous movement of these populations, but also indicates the process oriented approach as a fundamental element of contemporary art.
Souvenir of power, which transforms people and places, and at the same time a memory of a youthful experience, is also the installation “Last Journey”: an old red Peugeot 204, with the bonnet raised, stuck in the middle of a sea of sand (real). In 1977 the artist drove with his family in a car like this one from Genoa for an adventurous journey to Iran, but a breakdown forced them to have an unexpected stop in the desert. The individual memories of an unrepeatable experience overlap with the unrepeatability of a historical condition, of a world profoundly transformed by recent events.
Vitone offers us an exciting, complex itinerary that leads us to reflect on current issues using heterogeneous materials for a particularly original visual (and olfactory) experience.
Liviana Martin, Milan Reviewer
Volume 32 no 4 March/April 2018 p 29