The title of the exhibition refers to the essay by Roland Barthes “Writing Degree Zero”, published in 1953, in which the French intellectual outlines a new concept of Form, autonomous and resolved in itself, which frees itself from both language and style, to achieve an exclusive and autonomous expression. “A third dimension of Form”, therefore, which rejects any dependence on figurative legacies, in order to impose itself as a new reality, as a new zeroed dimension.
From this assumption, transferred to art, we must start to observe the physiognomy of the works in the exhibition:
At the ground floor, in the two works from the Zycles series, Thomas Ruff refuses tout court a referential approach to probe the possibilities of abstraction inherent in the photographic medium, even withdrawing himself from the author’s role, choosing to delegate the creation to a three-dimensional modeling software. The same process of negation is shown to the visitor in the work by Argentine artist David Lamelas: a gigantic Falling Wall distorts the spaces of the gallery; a wall that, deprived of its load-bearing and expository function, questions the work of art as an object that shows itself. In Gilberto Zorio’s Torcia (Torch), on the other hand, an archetypal form appears, in which the centripetal tensions and contrasts of matter, charged with energy, are synthesized in an explosion of form that converges in colour.
On the first floor, the works by Castellani and Dadamaino define with their geometries an alphabet of forms, while the blue and gold hues of the diptych and of Colonne Perse by Ettore Spalletti describe images and invite to a different perception, while avoiding the figure, with a language that abolishes the boundaries between painting and sculpture. A similar approach can be found in Wolfgang Laib’s Milkstone, a concave marble slab covered with milk, in which the illusion created by the shape and consistency of the material destabilises and redefines the visitor’s cognitive parameters.
Luca Monterastelli’s sculpture Still hoping for the second sun seems to put into practice a material catharsis that cancels out the sculptural practice of classical derivation. The agglomeration of the materials, the convergence of gestures leads to an inevitable dispersion, to an affirmation of impossibility that also poses itself as the primordial stage of a rebirth.
On the second floor Klein Bottle by Gary Hill shows a single continuous surface, the result of a mathematical form in which the boundary between inside and outside becomes transient, ambiguous, in a sort of negation of form understood as convention. The third dimension of Form is also that indicated by Joseph Kosuth, the first to introduce a process of dematerialization of art aimed at achieving what Barthes in his essay defines as absence: the work of art understood beyond its physical presence, in a definitive overcoming of the traditional forms of figurative language.
In the Nell’Estetica della Resistenza by Alfredo Jaar, ten photographs mounted on lightboxes portray the famous Casa del Fascio designed in Como by Giuseppe Terragni in the 1930s. Focusing on the details of an apparently neutral and silent architecture, Jaar reveals its ideological value. Through geometric grids and details of the spaces, he reveals the conditioning of a political regime that for twenty years has been carrying out a conscious process of annihilation.
An annihilation to which the workers of the Serra Pelada gold mines in Brazil are also subjected, protagonists on the sidelines of the photo on the lightbox taken from the Gold in the morning series. Finally, in Giovanni Anselmo’s Particolare, the artist focuses on a category of abstract thought such as that of “particular”, giving it ephemeral concreteness through the loop projection of the word itself, to conduct an investigation around the concepts of finite and infinite, involving our cognitive dimension and leading the visitor to question his own conventional semantic arrangements.