Lorenzo Mammi

Galeria Sergio Milliet (October 1988)

One can conceive and create a sculpture as a game of balance, construction, juxtaposition of forms. Or one can imagine the work as the product of an intervention, as though it were an instant (immobile, timeless) suspended from a curve in movement. The first type of sculpture expands, ideally along the horizontal, creates and constructs a space. The second delves into the depths, through two illusions of extension: the hypothesis of a past and the promise of future development.

Frida Baranek’s works appear to be remains, witnesses of a disaster. Their raison d’être is to be found elsewhere – an impact or an explosion that occurred in the past. In a series of works immediately prior to these that are on exhibition, the event (a stone falling onto metal sheets) appeared to have just occurred. The reaction of the material was immediate, like someone reacting from a blow. But in these latest sculptures the trauma is further back. One senses that something terrible has happened, but one no longer knows what – the objects have already reacted and are falling back on themselves.

The rust that covers the metal reminds us that those surfaces were once smooth and shiny. But it also suggests the process of degradation is not over and anticipates further changes and decay. In fact, all the elements Frida uses are imperfect, defective. There is no clear outline to offset the atmosphere. The air penetrates and corrodes the objects. The tangled wire, present in so many of the sculptures is, in this sense, an emblematic element. It offers the eye an impenetrable resistance, but not a compact one. One always has the impression that one could, if one wanted, see deeper. The images seem about to fall apart.

The material resists the shock, tries desperately to recover a function and a form. It puts out tentacles, clings to the ground, collapses. Frida Baranek captures the moment when the scattered fragments, almost cellular organisms, come together and try to reconstitute themselves. It is precisely at this moment that the objects reveal more clearly that they are composed of incomplete parts. When they rise up vertically, it is a leaning verticality, wavering, unstable. When they spread along the ground they unravel, disperse. It is not they that conquer the space, it is the empty space that conquers them – insinuating itself into every chink, opening cavities, dilating the lacunae between one element and the other.

The aim for one meaning and for uniformity is condemned to failure, but is nonetheless evident. Rather than build, the sculptures appear to rebuild themselves, based on a genetic code imprinted on the material itself, now somewhat faded. The parts blindly seek, then recognize each other and come together, as if guided by a basic instinct – but no longer know how to articulate a structure. In this silent struggle to recollect, they hold the promise of something that a polished, compact object cannot offer – their incompleteness is a rending tribute to form.

© Lorenzo Mammi