For the Dialogue Section of ARCOmadrid 2020 ChertLüdde presented a booth with artists Gabriel Chaile (b. 1985, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina) in conversation with Franco Mazzucchelli (b. 1939, Milan, Italy).
The two artists come from vastly different milieus, time periods and geographical contexts, yet each in their own artistic endeavours have sought to engage with their communities and provoke questions of stratification and constraints, and ultimately a vision for change in regards to, a broader social and cultural framework.
In the late 60s, Mazzucchelli had begun leaving massive inflatable PVC sculptures in nature and public spaces across Italy, during a time when the material was previously only employed for industrial means and contemporary art-making was almost exclusively limited to commercial spaces. Mazzucchelli’s interventions within the Italian working class and urban social spheres caused surprise and disturbance amongst passerby, recorded in written fragments by the artist. One of the transcriptions, as seen in A. to A. (San Fedele Square, Milan, 1970) (late 1970s) sheds light on some of the Italian citizens’ reactions to Mazzucchelli’s abandoned inflatable PVC sculptures (from his series A. to A.):
“Quello là, per esempio, sembra la buonanima del Norge, cosiddetto NORGE in Italiano, cioè il dirigi bile che é andato al Polo Nord… si si… sembra quello che ha detto il signore, precisamente! Anche salvagenti negli elicotteri – si, se hanno quella forma li va bene, se hanno uno scopo preciso, se sono destinate ad un preciso scopo va bene, ma altrimenti cosi in sé sono delle cose mostruose.”
“That one there, for example, it looks like the good soul of Norge, so-called NORGE in Italian, the airship that went to the North Pole … yes yes … it seems what that gentleman said, precisely! Or even life-buoys for helicopters – yes, if they have that shape, it is fine, if they have a specific purpose, if they are destined for a specific purpose, it is fine, but otherwise they are only monstrous things…”
The presentation featured mixed media works that document the oft-performative and interactive elements of the A. to A. series, separate installations the series from 1970 – 1973 in various locations in Italy, including Priori Square, Volterra; the Alfa Romeo Factory, Milan and San Fedele Square, Milan. The works include written fragments of conversations by observers that Mazzucchelli documented during his installations, giving a glimpse into the reactions and sentiments towards the inflatable sculptures during the time.
Gabriel Chaile’s project ollas populares is a series of aluminium pots that the artist exchanged for new cookware in soup kitchens of neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, such as La Boca and San Telmo. Using the concept of the “communal pot” as a meeting point for cooperation and resistance, the artist reworked the used silverware, engraving on them faces inspired by vessels from indigenous cultures from the Argentine Northwest. Each pot carry the name of the respective soup kitchen, the number of years it served the community, and transcriptions of interviews conducted by Chaile with the locals.
These “community pots” refer to the solidarity of a people in circumstances of poverty of Argentina. They carry with them the stories and experiences of local communities throughout generations. Chaile’s documentation of his people, their daily realities of existence amidst poverty and disparity, communal gathering, and dreams of a better future are transcribed onto the pots themselves:
“…El mundo que te tira tierra, con esa yo hago ladrillos y me construyo un castillo…”
“… The world that throws dirt at you, with that I make bricks and build myself a castle…”
Each pot is engraved with faces carrying indigenous features from Northwest Argentina, the name of the respective soup kitchen, the number of years it served the community, and transcriptions of interviews conducted by Chaile with the locals.
Developing upon a framework self-dubbed “the genealogy of form”, Chaile’s body of works draw upon the history of forms and materials which have survived time and denote resistance, such as the clay oven and the common pot. Integrating the ritualistic and communal significance of food and public spaces into his practice, Chaile invokes his ancestry in works such as La Malinche (2019) and Lluvia, vapor y veloci- dad (2019), which take inspiration from Pre-Columbian vessels and mythic-historical figures such as La Malinche (the purported interlocutor between Hernán Cortes and the Aztecs). Confronting the postcolonial national heritage linked to social and economic class, Chaile approaches the socio-historical narrative of his community with intentions of reclamation and reinvention.
Photos by Trevor Lloyd