Roberto Fassone “Charades” at Fantaspazio, Milan
Milan, Fantaspazio, September 26th, 2016. It is 6pm and almost everyone has arrived. Roberto welcomes us at the entry, wearing a white t-shirt, black shorts and sneakers.
I notice that he is wearing sportswear. He smiles, he seems at ease. I seat on a chair behind the row of seats intended for the collectors. From there I can observe. Valeria and Alessio are positioned at the corners of the space with the role of referees, while on one side of the room Alberto has the notary function. On the wall, behind Fassone, a sign reports the title, date and the list of participants: Charades 2016. Attila, Bond, Cimbro, Già, Goblin, Kenya and Tomba. These are the nicknames of the 7 collectors invited to participate to the performance as players. A month before, each of them received a list of 100 artworks drafted by Fassone, with the artist’s names, titles and a brief synopsis. Now they became one hundred cards. Attila randomly pulls one out, Fassone opens it, shows it to the “notary” and begins to mimic it. There is a slight tension, however, we laugh and to whom remembers a very long title in English applauses and congratulations are reserved. “Some titles are impossible…”?Bond doesn’t miss a shot. “Thank goodness you said you hadn’t studied.” Kenya misses a title for a little details and the word goes to Goblin, who raised his hand right after her and guesses the title. “… It’s not fair!.” Kenya guesses the next artwork. “And what about who remains at zero?” Tomba asks. “And who arrives second, does he get half of the photo?.”?“Ladies are always more competitive.” “Maybe, but they always arrive second….” replies Kenya. It seems to be a gender issue! Bond presses. One point after the other. “Come to play in Genoa.” Then he makes a mistake… “oh finally,” someone exclaims. They help each other with the purpose of stopping Bond, who stops by himself. The points increase for Goblin and Kenya, who gets to the final round.?Nine to nine, Bond against Kenya. “Now I risk loosing”.?But Bond wins, observing Fassone’s sweeping gestures to the space around us, the walls, to an empty bowl. Yves Klein, Le vide!
A mise en abyme of the art system? Of course! In one shot Roberto Fassone puts all its actors at play—collector, gallerist, artist, critic—and with them the question of the production and the market, calling both of them into the clear dynamic of the project: every invited collector pays a participation fee and the sum of the fees corresponds to the value of the work.
The work is bought together, but it goes to the winner. Meritocracy? I would not say so. Fassone doesn’t claim to teach or to prove anything. His reason is not critical but both cognitive and passionate, two attitudes that already drew him to make sibi (2011-2012), one of his first artistic operations, in which he examined thoroughly hundreds of artworks, the ones which fascinate him the most, to understand how they work, their internal logic, in order to reach their aura. And once there, once the rules of the game are established, the players have to do a dizzying journey backwards, a surprising path into the creative process. A complex operation, consisting in a free software available online, which is at once a digital game, a cyber text and an artwork able to generate billions of instructions to produce potential artworks. What Fassone declines in the Latin “sibi,” “by itself,” is not the “everyone is an artist” by Beuys and not even the irreverent “Do it by yourself” by Warhol, but a multi-faceted device—intelligent, fun, cultured—paradoxically able to return to the aura of the artwork its natural lightness. “I wanted somehow to make more serious the concept of the game and less serious the concept of an art work”.
Even for Charades, the starting and finishing point is art. As Roberto Longhi wrote, putting in one single sentence the myth of the unique author, original and autonomous, the work of art is never an isolated event, a singular masterpiece, but it is always inscribed in a network of relationships with other works. Fassone is convinced of this, and he goes beyond. First of all he asks to the collectors to play with his own “collection”, which he installs in a virtual museum on paper: 21 pages of rooms, walls and artworks, where David Hammons sits next to Takashi Murakami, to Man Ray and his artist friend Luca De Leva, and where the young and promising Alessandra Messali exhibits between Martin Creed and Klara Lidén. With a mocking irony he gives it the shape of a limited edition sticker album (Collect ’em all). Finally, with the game of charades, he stages a translation process that reflects the system of passages through which our daily relationship with cultural objects takes place. Having this dense network of transcripts as a background, Fassone’s Charades defies the simple dialectic between winners and losers. In practical terms, he proved that what wins is the pleasure of playing and its gradual sliding into conversation, dialogue, reflection, thought. At the very centre the art, around it everything else, without forgetting anything.
Francesca Comisso: If we can identify a starting point in the conceptual and instruction-based art from the Sixties, what is your relationship with the theories and practices of postproduction?
Roberto Fassone: Yeah
FC: Many of your works make me think that you read the exhortation of the Situationists “Realisez potlatch.” The gift, the exchange, the dispersion and the excess, in their nature of agents able to subvert the order of systems—social, cultural, economic—, define an orientation that I notice in your artistic practice.
FC: Does your interest in the game as the structure and formal arrangement of many of your works have some reference to Huizinga’s Homo ludens or rather stems from your experience as a basket player?
at Fantaspazio, Milan
until 27 November 2016