I Would Prefer Not to / Preferirei di no. Esercizi di sottrazione nell’ultima arte italiana

curated by Simone Ciglia and Luigia Lonardelli

MARIO AIRÒ, ROSA BARBA, MASSIMO BARTOLINI, GIANFRANCO BARUCHELLO, CLAIRE FONTAINE, MATTEO FATO, ANNA FRANCESCHINI, CHIARA FUMAI, INVERNOMUTO, CESARE PIETROIUSTI, NICOLA SAMORÌ, LUCA TREVISANI, LUCA VITONE

I would prefer not to is the famous response with which the scrivener Bartleby, protagonist of the tale of the same name by Herman Melville (1853), progressively denies himself an active life. A tireless clerk working for a Wall Street attorney, one day he suddenly refuses to do his job for no apparent reason, sparking a crescendo that culminates in his imprisonment and death.

The inextricable node of negation, resistance and alienation embodied by the protagonist has been associated with artistic creation within the sphere of the reflections of Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben. Melville’s literary creation embodies “unpredictability”, “openness to the unplanned”, “skewed moves” and “surprise”: characteristics that seemed to provide a potential key to reading the history of Italian art over the last fifteen years. Indeed, it seems to want to withdraw from an identity that has perhaps only ever been imagined. I would prefer not to is/ Preferirei di no based on the ascertainment of the episodic, fragmentary and sometimes slightly unstable nature of the latest artistic production.

The new millennium has extended the domain of precariousness from the social level to the existential level. Precariously founded on the weakness of historical theories, the figure of the artist has appeared divided between professionalization and impossible flights, often at the very limit of invisibility. This approach to subtraction helps to create a climate that crosses the generations and is translated into choices targeted at peripheral and secluded existential levels. The exhibited artists claim the right to move away from the ongoing jumble of facts and things without losing awareness of their personal and collective experience. Just like the scrivener Bartlebey, they prefer not to, refusing in a way that is no longer contesting or resisting, but is simply a negation of the possibility to choose.

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