Franco Mazzucchelli
plongée en apnée
ChertLüdde, Berlin
14 March – 30 May, 2020

ChertLüdde is pleased to present plongée en apnée, its second solo exhibition with Franco Mazzucchelli (b. 1939, Milan). The installation reactivates for the first time a historic exhibition inaugurated in 1969 at Galleria Canale in Venice. The artist produced a series of his now-idiosyncratic pneumatic sculptures and an inflating/deflating indoor installation. While the outdoor area was inhabited by buoyant shapes floating above land and water, the interior gallery was transformed into a giant pulmonary system, with towering PVC sculptures occluding the space. Inspired by Venice’s particularly amphibious landscape, Mazzucchelli accentuated the influence of the natural environment throughout the exhibition, creating a circulatory system alluding to the unceasing movement of water and air in the human body and its surroundings– a metaphysical contemplation on the rhythm of life. 

Drawing a connection between the realms of air and water, the artist also necessarily pointed to their physically oppositional qualities, and our inability to exist in one completely without the other. Likewise, Mazzucchelli’s work was never meant to be isolated from the public. Always challenging the distance placed between art and observers, Mazzucchelli made art to be intimately encountered, invitations to action which in turn became performative, saturating the works with life and breath. In their provocation of the accepted rules within art and society and the enmeshment of the two domains, the works seem to be in a constant state of apnea, allowing for the fruition of another dimension in which the artist has expressed a language for more than 50 years. His interest in entering foreign territories and alienating familiar ones has thus always remained at the core of his practice. 

The exhibition at ChertLüdde includes documentary footage of six public interventions which took place over the course of nearly a decade, from 1970 to 1977. In the videos, inflatable PVC sculptures are “abandoned” by the artist in public spaces across Italy and left to their fates. The Abbandono series, as it was called, later transitioned into A. to A. (Art to Abandon), a decades–spanning output which became principal to Mazzucchelli’s practice. 

All images: Trevor Lloyd
Video: Benjamin Renoux