The precision of construction versus the uncertain beauty of the unexpected

by Francesco Moschini (2003)

The history of the approach to shadow is a complex one: in a naturalistic light, it is the effect-contrast of a light source defining itself as an accident of visibility – implying the denial of something and at the same time its indirect existence. Its proper and improper use can determine paradoxical or disturbing, surreal or dream-like, metaphysical effects (De Chirico docet). Licia Galizia conceives shadow as a pictorial effect: in this installation, which occupies the main room of the gallery, phrases and concepts run in fixed modules stuck on the wall: at the same time elements in relief project their shadow on some words of the text. By moving these elements and thus by changing the disposition of shadows, the onlooker can redefine conceptually or poetically the meaning of the text. By reading only the words within the shadow or vice versa the ones without, the whole verbal experience becomes elastic, so to speak, variable and changeable. Playing on the fixed-flexible duplicity, the shadow thus becomes the founding element of the installation and, for a strange law of nonsense, gives life to the silent body of the wall, challenging perception. Once again consistent with her line of research, Licia Galizia, who has been exploring other languages for years, attains a contamination and gives her exhibition the title Il testo retto, the straight text. A contamination-intersection between the formal elements of her inspiration and the lyrical ones of Rosa Pierno’s text. The very use of shadow highlights a visual semantic exchange: shape, sign, contents and image are highlighted and open not to the multimediality that one would expect but to a confrontation that does not overrule the differences. Already in 1997, with Cecilia Casorati, she worked on words and installation: today, turning to the word again is an experience which allows her to approach the text with the ability of realizing textual polysemy. A polysemy that besides playing on meaning and logic refers (following an often experimented pattern) to that combination of reason and feeling which, while in the past it involved also music and dance, uses here a formal geometrical element (the straight line) and a moral geometrical element, starting from the semantic misunderstanding of the definition of straight line (straight and narrow, straight text).
Among the possible variations of a possible text, whose poetic reference is Dante, we read: Qualsiasi proiezione del fruitore è bene accetta se travalica le regole del gioco. Intuitivamente il senso si condenserà in una costellazione di significati dove si vedrà l’amore che move il sole e l’altre stelle. (Any projection of the onlooker is welcome if it overrides the rules of the game. Sense will condense intuitively in a constellation of meanings where you will see the love that moves the sun and the other stars. And more: nello spazio bidimensionale, il testo approfondisce senza travalicare le somme rette. E’ nel testo la retta via. La somma delle rettitudini. (in the bidimensional space, the text goes deep into the straight sums. The straight and narrow way is in the text. The sum of all rectitude.)

Although the variable of combination of the module to the text recalls the title of her performance in Città S. Angelo (Dalla regola del gioco alla sregolatezza del segno creativo, From the Rules of the Game to the Unruliness of Creative Sign), it doesn’t exclude at all the idea of a poetical and abstract rigour.

In fact the constant tendency of Licia Galizia towards the scientific aspect of her installations, just slightly reduced by the uncertainty of the different unforeseen and unforeseeable results, places her work fully in the groove of that lyrical abstraction, carried out mainly by the abstract artists from Como in the 1930s as in the chromatic condensations of Veronesi around force lines.

The craftsmanship, tenaciously pursued through the phases of preparation of every single installation, is distant from the proto-high tech experiences of Dan Flavin, who, in the 60s, used fluorescent bars to define the conceptual visibility of the wall. There is also nothing in Galizia of the combination of texts and objects on walls created by Joseph Kosuth in the same years. The use of forex bars and metal supports, as simple as the artists wants them to be, refer to a conceptual backdrop more characteristic of a European context, as a quotation from J. Tinguely, in the catalogue of Galizia’s other exhibition Sistemi, in 2001, clearly expresses.

The wall, in its apparent inexpressiveness, becomes the body, throbbing with life, of guidelines which determine its renewed functional capacity, they turn it in a space and time field of action where the artist leaves a mark through a footprint (in one more semantic play) in order to make it speak. In Galizia’s opinion, we see: by mirroring herself in her work the artist isn’t looking for her likeness, but for the footprints of herself who has become someone else.

These footprints harmonize with a linear perception of time which, always according to a factor of ambiguous duplicity refer to the circular time of the hortus conclusus of the place they are inserted. If an artist like Jerry Holzer with his Truisms, makes a paradoxical use of banal and stereotyped phrases, in open space installations this is due to the mainly mediatic impact that messages involve in today’s civilization. L. Galizia on the contrary uses a literary text because its abstract temporality becomes a variable of the circularity of the place, in relation to the presence-absence of the spectator. This variability focuses on key points of communication, which from a complete discourse proceeds through fixed segments, which taken by themselves alter the fragmentary nature of temporal experience attaining a sort of pidgin. And while they share with pidgin the elementary aspect of information, at the same time they record the conceptual complexity of text.