Studio for Propositional Cinema, Jason Dodge, and Gioacchino Di Bernardo at Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples
by Sonia D’Alto
The three solo shows at Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, take up all the spaces of the building—engaging the spectator in an encounter with form and content, while attempting to display the invisible.
The Storyteller’s Fountain: A Tale Told by a Gust of Wind in the Low and Dark Rooms, by Studio for Propositional Cinema
Studio for Propositional Cinema’s intervention functions as a narrative choreography. By the means of fabulist realism, Studio proposes an alliance between affabulation and critique, framing identity of cultural constructs in social narratives. The basement of Fondazione Morra Greco, host glass cases installed in an ancient Greek niche. On their surfaces, text insinuate the idea of being fragments of preexisting stories. On the first floor, the viewer enters a device-artwork in media res: The scenario here is composed of images on the walls and ceilings that are also reflected in molded mirrors. By moving through the six frescoed rooms, the viewer can follow a tale told by various characters and voices in an audio work. By turning the context of the palace into content, Studio for Propositional Cinema rescripts the legend of Arethusa, as recounted by Gianbattista Basile (1566–1632), the court writer of Prince Caracciolo d’Avellino, the builder of the palace in which Fondazione Morra Greco is located. In the same way that the mirrors reflect the frescoes, the tale reflects historical meanings, not only as things of the past but also as prototypes to be used in many settings. Studio’s use of the tale and allegorization conceal many meanings; at the same time, their language unfolds by relying on typical strategies of myth, such as dislocation, ambivalence, and the use of a set of archetypical characters. The Storyteller’s Fountain reveals struggles between freedom and oppression. A chorus of multiple voices and scenarios made up of the images reflected in the mirrors unveil the nature of time and space as a stratified and open resource. In order to make another, better world possible, mythopoiesis and tales are still necessary.
As Soon As The Invented Language Enters Us Something Else Will Vibrate In Our Skin, by Jason Dodge (accompanied by a conceptual text by curator and writer Raimundas Malašauskas)
The title of Jason Dodge’s show, in the words of the poet CAConrad, alludes to the trembling of meaning whenever language is stretched to its limits. The entire second floor of Fondazione Morra Greco is filled with an installation of objects that appears like a ghostly presence, a memorial. Material care and perception of time are organized in the style of “anarcheology.” Local objects are displayed according to a fragmented system, and the stories they carry highlight their anarchic potential, their historic and fragmented status. Jason Dodge captures a displacement of the visible: tales about living beings can be deduced from the presence of nonliving existences, such as the scent of laundry detergent that fills the space. Amnesia and silence are experienced by the visitor, creating an ethereal atmosphere. The space modulates visibility and erasure. The great care that Neapolitans allegedly dedicate to their laundry, an activity performed between the public and the private spheres, is expressed here through material fragments. Political and economic processes incorporate the behavior of people and are transformed by essential agglomerates of objects used up over time. Rows of glass jars, plastic baskets, rags, and scissors remind us of our daily past and dematerialized present. Critical acts of ghosting become poetic by giving space to silent objects that express the multiplicity of meaning and language. Modeled on the imperceptible, Jason Dodge’s show also expresses how politics are deeply connected with appearance. Finally, a feeling of always waiting for something still to come pervades the nostalgic composition of the artwork.
Study for Landscape and Other Animals, by Luca Gioacchino Di Bernardo
In one single-nave space on the top floor of Fondazione Morra Greco, several large drawings demand that we look beyond figuration. The artworks appear alongside organic vertical strips of fabric, in a display curated by Alessia Volpe. In addition, an herbarium of about fifty graphite drawings on paper makes invisible correspondences unfold, questioning and extending the normative thinking that is the basis of the notion of universal representation. Each portrait of a domestic plant includes a delicate hatching with footnotes. Under each drawing are sentences written in pencil. These are confessions by the artist, who has added or removed something from the plausibility of the plants. The footnotes allow Di Bernardo to admit the lies we have available through our imagination, and to show how we make them operative in representation. Through the unfolding mechanism of descriptive visualization in relationship to subjective consciousness, Di Bernardo tells a story about the inherent fallacy of any objective representation. Crafting a connection between objectivity and subjectivity, the drawings reverberate with transcendent meaning, reciprocity between the visible and the invisible. Normally, studies present single details, isolated figures, or floating compositions sketched for further development. In choosing to expose a “study for landscape and other animals,” Di Bernardo shows us coexisting figures that merge from a white or nonexistent background. This perhaps suggests a damaged society, deprived of any contested landscape. And through figuration, Di Bernardo insinuates not a simple, natural imitation but unexpected combinations. In the four big drawings on paper, semigrotesque, hybrid, and massive figures emerge. As when viewing medieval bestiaries, the spectator is inspired with a subtle feeling of connection between figuration and imagination.
 See Alena Alexandrova, “Anarcheologies: On Anarchic Infrastructures,” in The Invisible Seminar, ed. Brandon Labelle, (Bergen: University of Bergen, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, 2017).