Die andere Seite

Die andere Seite
22.09.2017 – 28.10.2017
Massimiliano Tommaso Rezza
Curated by Daniela Cotimbo
Colli Independent Art Gallery, Rome

“Melancholic and gloomy, it stood high upon dry ground in its varying uniformity.”

This is how Alfred Kubin describes the city of Pearl, the capital of the Realm of Dream, where the main character of the novel arrives, invited by the city’s founder, Patera. Pearl is an insidious place, which is shrouded in permanent mystery, built as a mosaic of ruins from all over the world.
The same “varying uniformity” seems to connect the over 1000 images that make up the project by Massimiliano Tommaso Rezza. These images are fractions or fragments of YouTube videos and show a state of decay due to the compression of their digital format.
The images, collected by Rezza for over three years, although estranged from their original source, preserve the ghost of unexpressed violence, that of the rapture of images (maybe) or of the stories that we leave behind. Massimiliano does not edit the images; his intervention is limited to their selection and accumulation. They are not just isolated images, and, at times, Rezza decides to show entire sequences of stills whose character remains enigmatic.

The true concern of an artist is not to determine the direction for a new reading of history, or histories, but, on the contrary, to analyze the mechanisms internal to the image itself, those factors that are able to provoke attraction and/or repulsion.
Like Kubin’s inhabitant of the Dream who “does not believe in anything but the dream”, the images of Die andere Seite seem to come from a oneiric stream. Dream-like is their fluidity, their temporal dilation and their unsettling nature of being both familiar and upsetting. Massimiliano’s work is actually defined by two aspects: on the one hand, all that we see and experience, and, on the other, all that the artist does not say but shows through nonetheless as a silent ghost.
What, then, is the responsibility of an author, if not the capability to unearth the silence of the image? These are exactly the issues which Massimiliano, and all his works, deal with. His sampling of images from videos is an opportunity to suspend our judgement: the associations of images without any predetermined logic allow them to show for what they are: seducing simulacra whose origin is unknown.
The game becomes even more extreme when Rezza decides to use in this work some frames from life at Berghof, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun’s residence in the Bavarian Alps. The photographs in which the Führer or his companion are not distinguishable from the others and are confused with the general magma of images to the point that Eva Braun, in one of these images, looks like a Walt Disney character (or as a modern biblical figure) while picking an apple from a tree.
Die andere Seite reflects upon the ambiguity of globalized images, upon the Internet, where everyone can access through different devices an enormous quantity of visual material whose origins, once again, are unknown as the mechanisms that govern the web. Curiosity, voyeurism, and entertainment become dangerous carriers through which images penetrate the collective Mind.
The ghost of a story is close but we still have to learn how to recognize it; we live instead in the era of depressurization, where every photograph loses its primary necessity to become something else.
How much room is left for photography and his author? Where is his logic if not in his skills to make the nature of photographic language emerge?
Die andere Seite is a project composed of photographs that overlap with the computer screen. Massimiliano shows the mechanisms that govern the practice of framing and shooting. The photogenic dimension is detected here and used as a critical opportunity, for its aestheticistic nature, which is external to the flow of Reality.
In order not to focus on the integral body of his archive, Rezza refuses to use the book form for his images and prefers to print a series of paperback booklets. The random and chronological collection of the photos in these paperbacks allows no space for critical adaptation. Everything moves on the natural basis of the phenomenon, yet carries the insidious nature of the unsaid.
The three big prints in the exhibition are bound together by a pure principle of formal consistency. Their association seems to allude to an announced catastrophe, that of the loss of any critical possibility in favour of the proliferation of the viral image.