- 1: INTRODUCTION
Words are important. They express concepts, suggest sensations, open memory, start ideas. Such as “Infinity in a crack, doorstep to the splendor”.
Appetizing idea, isn’t?
In the realm of the paradoxical, a word can also suggest two opposite concepts, without realizing it. “It depends on the context in which it is used,” you say. Partly fair, but not entirely.
In truth, it depends on which ear the word reaches. If we compare the human mind to a house and the word to a key, it will open some doors rather than others. But in another house, different doors. This is the power of cognitive processes in relation to the individual. This is the secret of free association.
Let’s take the word “crack“
Immediately it may suggest rupture, something failed, not intact. From there, an opening to other words: destroyed, useless, cracked, to be thrown away, ugly, useless, to buy a new one, to repair, ugly to look at to.
A crack in a wall, or floor, is a surface with a hole in it. End of the story.
However, a hole is a cavity, an opening.
Already with the word “openness”, things can change.
Associations may vary towards other shores, perhaps more positive ones. A slit through which air or light passes. An idea of gash in the flat surface which, used metaphorically, can be an escape from monotony, a hope from flatness.
A crack is a material wound
To the word “wound”, yet another world. It can be a hole in the head after a bad accident, a tear in the skin after a cut.
Note that in a few lines, all bold words – and the attached concepts – were pulled out only of the starting word “crack”.
The ability to reflect on the depth of words and things around us is a gift given to each individual, but reserved for those who want to do it to try to go beyond the surface of the obvious.
Instead, the freedom to do so can be given by those who, with their work, stimulate and help people’s imagination, depth and sensitivity.
This is the work of dreamers, artists, creatives and those who manage to make themselves heard without using the controversy to do it.
QUESTIONS TO THE ARTIST:
- SPEAKING FREELY, FIRST IMPACT, WHAT THE WORD “CRACK” DO YOU SUGGEST?
To this first question, after reading what you have written so far, I want to answer in a concise way just to give the feeling of what can be the infinite analyzes that the reflection on the crack originates in me: the word first impact crack suggests me the whole process from beginning to end, from end to beginning, like removing the letter P from the word and then putting it back in perpetual motion.
- 2: THE ARTIST AND THE CRACK
The intention of this piece is to speak precisely of one of those people who, through their work, makes sure that the words, things and feelings with which we enter into daily relationships acquire greater meaning.
Before meeting the artist Andrea Francolino I met his work. Discovering the theme of the crack in a claustrophobic period like that of staying at home represents a unique opportunity to talk about more things, united by the thread of correspondences. We firmly believe in this.
The artist (Bari, 1979) works in particular with the material and the installation, often in large gathering places or in spaces of common use: the value of the installation has a symbolic content in relation to the place and materials and in the In his works there is always a reflection between the nature that hosts, the man who modifies and the object that determines the point of union between the first two.
In 2018 Francolino performs a conceptually “monumental” work at Spazio Aperto San Fedele in Milan, in which a crack in the wall is covered with gold, in a splendid quote from the Japanese Kintsugi (the art of repairing cracks with gold). The exhibition was titled Intra Materia Natura Infinita, without commas.
The work on the crack is a work on its concept and its multiple possibilities. Become a catalyst center of infinite reflections, just like his word for us.
These considerations can start from matter or from ideas. It happens as with bold words: from them there are immense ways of contact to talk about all kinds of topics, with the awareness of having taken one more step towards the development of a concept.
For Francolino the crack is a detail of a world in the making; the signal that not only the matter around us, but also that ourselves and our lives are alive, they change, they move and, sometimes in doing so, they shatter. It is a sign of the fragility to which we are subject.
This idea describes the crack from a mainly material point of view, which represents only the tip of the iceberg. As said, this idea in its simplicity can go everywhere.
An illuminating part of the work is the intention to let this infinite sea of possibilities be enjoyed by people in a totally personal and subjective way, before evolving into a restart and a final rendering. This type of artist can be defined generous, since he lets his audience benefit from their works, without imposing an aesthetic diktat that is often too complicated for users unfamiliar with contemporary art.
The crack for him can be the beginning and end of many things. It can represent material defeat, as well as conceptual victory. The cracks he finds and that he “takes” leaves them natural and without artifice.
For this reason, in the days of the quarantine, the “#LAMIACREPA” initiative was launched on social platforms. To allow anyone who wanted to, to propose a physical crack but in reality to share their emotional crack.
Although the idea goes back two years, I don’t think there is a better time to talk about Andrea’s work. Living for the first time in a situation like that of a pandemic has not only changed history and the way of life: it has highlighted, in an absolutely democratic way, how fragile a human being really is.
People have felt exposed and vulnerable, and although tragedies, problems and bad things happen to everyone, they remain enclosed in a private dimension. For the first time, the walls of fragility, of collective fears, of mistrust towards those who walk next to you, have emerged in an indelible way.
There is an extraordinary coincidence between this artist’s work and the present moment.
The crack, in this specific historical and social moment, can be the emblem of the tactile display of conscious human vulnerability.
It could be this: the material datum of a fragile world in movement and in becoming. The nerve center of the physical and mental contradictions of the world and its inhabitants. The fragile sides of the community. Vulnerability (or better the awareness) of all that is the human being in front of the will of Nature.
The crack can constitute infinite conceptual branches, even if faced with this type of situation it is inevitable that it borders on the most sensitive vision of the individual and the community that perceives this same weakness and contradiction. Man’s way of reacting to what Nature is, does and acts is the starting point of this type of research and the infinite reflexive process that follows.
Why talking about contradictions? For two reasons:
First: because, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, a word contains a concept that, if desired, branches out into a wide range of meanings which can also contradict each other. Crack can be opening but also closing.
Second: because man is a living contradiction. He shouts that he wants freedom from restrictions, but as soon as he is outside he begins to complain that the world outside is not safe and that people should be more responsible (this in the specific example of the “pandemic” theme).
All the versatility of this artist’s work, in addition to generosity, also brings with it an additional opportunity: a positive perspective for the future, a possibility of improvement, given precisely by this ability to reflect on things that from “crooked” become straight , just look at them from another side, where the crack is opening instead of closing.
Anche se così non fosse, l’individuo umano ha bisogno di poterci credere. Soprattutto, quando in una crepa, ci si può leggere anche un trauma.
Infinity in a crack
QUESTIONS TO THE ARTISTS
- REGARDING YOUR AVAILABILITY IN RESPECT OF YOUR AUDIENCE, WHY SHOULD THEY SHARE THEIR CRACKS WITH YOU? WITH WHICH OBJECTIVE?
By externalizing rather than the other way around. In general, the artist proposes and waits for an audience to marry and share research carried out. In the initial moment of the quarantine I immediately noticed a lot of compulsion on the part of art and its operators to propose and outsource; for this reason I thought that if I had done something, I would have followed mechanisms that started in the opposite direction and I would have invited the viewer to be the one who expressed their emotions starting from an input of great universality for me: a crack.
<<To many artists it will have happened to have received from the audience pleasantries but also externations; I thought about how a unique moment like quarantine was suitable to take a step back as an artist to share the externations and confidences of others starting from the pretext of the crack. On the other hand, if the theme I deal with is universal, a thought can be generated from anyone. Then the originality, the depth, the poetry, the new reflection that springs from it… well that’s another story. Believe me, I really received all kinds of them, through every means of communication. Of these, those shared verbally will remain only in my memories.>>
DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK HAD MORE RESONANCE IN AN EXCEPTIONAL SITUATION LIKE THAT OF PANDEMIC AND QUARANTINE?
<<There’s a concrete possibility that such research has involved the audience in a rampant way, bringing out the most sensitive side of many works. But it is only one of the many readings that can be generated. In reality, my research is not driven by the goal of predicting news events. These are the events that can trigger a reading among the infinite reflections of my research. Research that feeds and updates itself automatically with what is happening around it. Initially, to summarize the infinite reflections that this research generates, I used to say: “Looking at a crack is like looking at the universe, I reflect on the meaning of life and the meaning of things”>>
<<Processes that I implement are of another “nature”, even if perhaps a crack in the parking lot of a shopping center can easily become the symbolic trace of the economic crisis, making a broad concept figurative. Or, a cast performed passing through Notre-Dame recalls a news event that happened at the cathedral. Initially it is the objective manifestation present in every place on the planet, a linearity made different from any other by random genesis. This is just one of the many aspects that I consider and that unleashes an incredible charm in me. Nature, between empty and full, generates a beauty that tries to capture its essence and to explain with words or numbers; this is to understand what is supposed to be generated by chance. This could be magical, divine, scientific, nobody knows it but it is certainly wonderful!>>
- WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE DUTY OF THE ARTIST, AT A REVOLUTIONARY TIME?
<<I hope there will be an ever greater concentration towards the research carried out by each artist, rather than towards a form designed to attract consensus through the new channels of use. Not with resignation but with honesty, I suppose this is also part of an inevitable updating process. This process will be part of an evolution and obviously there will be dense results and solid research on the one hand, and on the other, more sterile situations. In my case, I hope that the sensitivity of the issues concerning Nature, ecology or sustainability have a fundamental coherence in the implementation process that I feel fundamental. Being able to maintain a conceptual, aesthetic and poetic force, despite the limitation that has been imposed on us in facing ethics of this magnitude. It is not trivial>>
- 3: CORRESPONDENCE CRACK-TRAUMA
Seeing the trauma in Francolino’s cracks was not necessarily obvious, but it was possible. Infinity in a crack, why not trauma
The particular moment required its dose of analysis; it was also difficult not to notice the discomfort, as it flew high through the words of every person who owned a smartphone.
I spontaneously found a correlation between the crack and the psychological trauma. To begin with because at the root of the word crack itself, there is a meaning of “rupture” and therefore trauma (from the Ancient Greek).
It means imagining psychological trauma as a rupture of many things:
in treatises and books, it is defined as the breaking of something in the soul of the individual or in his or her own health.
You can imagine mental health as part of that wonderful mechanism that is the human body. If something very serious or sudden or totally unexpected stands between us and the normal course of our life, of our way of thinking and conceiving, that interruption can be the cause of a more or less serious break. It depends on what it is and the type of personality you have to deal with it. Bullying, for example, for some, can be a nuisance, something to ignore or it can be a serious interruption of serenity and the way of conceiving school, until you see it transfigured into a nightmare, unable to react and with a strong lowering of confidence in itself.
In a figurative sense, it is as if the smooth surface of our “marble” was affected by a crack that makes its structure weaker or less intact.
The real problem with trauma is that it is something that our mind and body do not accept, since it does not have a coherent meaning of its existence.
In the most serious and horrendous traumas, such as abuse, it is precisely the unreality of the situation that upsets those who suffer it, causing a series of physical and emotional thoughts and reactions. The person is unable to accept and understand what is going on, not to mention the immense fear of safety and the risk of death. There is an interruption of mental coherence, which tends to occur again later. I think more or less everyone has interpreted this virus as something unexpected in the flow of life….
How they perceived and dealt with it, that’s another matter.
The period from the outbreak of the pandemic to the actual awareness of the arrival of the virus, up to the most severe forms of containment, can in itself be defined as a traumatic period. People have seen the freedom to go out and work for an enemy whom not everyone believes exists or whose seriousness they underestimate are taken away. A planet divided between two great fears:
the actual fear of disease and the fear that disease will not give people back their lives, exactly as we know it.
All compounded by an unstoppable wave of false news and points of view masked by information to hold on to.
For this reason, knowing the work of Andrea Francolino in a moment of global pandemic was the beginning of a reflection that saw three topics of great relevance:
1: collective trauma
2: the historical moment
3: his artistic work, which acts as a red thread in linking these three topics together.
The artist has directed the public’s attention towards an apparently monothematic thing such as the crack and people closed in their boredom, fear, anxiety, intolerance, dissatisfaction, uncertainty, have used that same crack to find a way to express all the corollary of emotions that was passing through their mind. They tried to get to the bottom.
In the treatment of psychological trauma or post traumatic disorder, the ones not excessively serious, one of the formulas of benefit is found precisely in creativity, which creates a distancing from the continuous thought of the thing or negative memory. There are many people who, especially in this moment when things start to reopen, are terrified of running into the neglect of others and of seeing them as dangerous, irresponsible or asymptomatic.
Furthermore, creativity has made up for the lack of activities outside the home, acting as an alternative against boredom, especially in children.
Supporting Andrea Francolino‘s initiative in “laying bare” his cracks in a moment so full of tension, certainly had a sense and a great beneficial effect. The sense was also there two years ago, when the project began, but living it and interpreting it on the basis of the collective vulnerability that we are all experiencing, has increased its value. It made it a tool for describing the concept of traumatic moment for those who perceived it in this way.
The multi-dimensionality of the crack becomes a multi-opportunity. And it gave us the opportunity to create an interesting correspondence between the crack and the trauma.
However, among the similarities, there is also a very substantial difference:
Traumas, even the most minor and surmountable, have a negative meaning. They are injured.
The cracks of the artist, even when they had the wound value, have a decidedly positive meaning. As said, they are a creative, simple and at the same time intelligent means of determining what are the ideas hidden behind the concept of “crack” and a way to share and compare one’s wounds.
They are opportunities.
QUESTIONS TO THE ARTIST
- HOW DID YOU LIVE THE CLOSING TIME?
<<In this period, I have often told what happened about the annual crack path project that I was carrying out. It was the second job of this type; after completing the first one in 2016, I promised myself to calm down for projects of this duration. Working like this consists of a commitment that makes you go everywhere with a bag, the content of which consists of sheets of hahnemühle paper and recovered cement dust sieved from rubble>>.
<<In every place where I went during the year, I traced the cracks that hit me, and then stopped with the last one that corresponded to the same date and (more or less) at the same time as the initial one, a year earlier. Started with enthusiasm, the work continued with rigor and when it was completed I felt a sense of liberation. A joy found after seeing it mounted in all its 12 meters in size. However, not happy and inconsistent with what I promised myself, I decided that, after the time course in the recovered concrete, I should start with its opposite in the earth. By restarting the physical and emotional marathon that this job requires.>>
<<February 8th, 2020, you have to stay home. The completion of the work, scheduled for April is compromised. The practicable exterior had become impractical for anyone and the work is destined to be unfinished, incomplete, undermined in its integrity. After two days of bewilderment, I realized that precisely this lack and absence could have become a strength, as well as part of the job. The work would mark this inevitable condition with a new ending instead of its ending.>>
<<Without rhetoric, we can consider it the trace of this collective experience; since nothing ever totally emerges except this detail.>>
<<So, I experienced the pandemic like many others: with different moods but which I can summarize today in a proactive way. Although everyone must fight for the search for an inner strength that is not so automatic. This must focus precisely on the possibilities and fortunes that are possessed, rather than on the misfortunes that have happened to us. This is not for testing, but it is a survival story.>>
- DID YOUR WORK USEFUL FOR YOU IN THAT MOMENT?
<<Yes, a lot … although obviously, given the objective limitations, I lived and dealt with it much more in a theoretical than practical way. I didn’t want to force myself to rush the times of the restart and I lived fully what could come out of a closed condition; looking every emotion in the face and trying to get new perceptions and possibilities.>>
- DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE CORRELATION BETWEEN CRACK AND TRAUMA, AT A CONCEPTUAL LEVEL?
<<It took me a long time to bring out (poetically and conceptually) my research in a context in which the crack has always been associated with something like rupture, trauma or injury, according to the most negative meaning that tradition has always given it . The correlation between crack and trauma and therefore fracture is the most immediate association without too many lucubrations. But by stripping it of a figurative rhetoric and analyzing it in another way, first of all it is the objective manifestation of a becoming from which broad reflections can begin, which can embrace many disciplinary forms; which allow me to get to the relationship between things of man and things of Nature.>>
<<In fact, I am not surprised that many of these questions often deal with these aspects such as trauma, injury, collapse etc … My first successful work was probably the possibility of analyzing the crack, starting from the infinite variables that are generated through a different vision that tradition has always granted her. The now famous performance of a plant visible today at the university center of Santa Marta in Verona helped my work a lot. This spontaneously broke through what were scraps of my works destined for pulping, giving them a different meaning and destiny.>>
<<So the crack is first of all objective, but allows subjective considerations. Which trigger collective involvement.>>
<<In my work “caso x caos x infinite variabili“, I managed to show that infinite harmony can be generated by the disharmony of a broken glass collected on the street (which decreed the end of a painting that adorned some houses in Milan); Like the universe that from a collision generated infinite variables and compositions of galaxies.>>
As in my last research “Limits“, in which the crack is collected on the edge of a man’s construction before it becomes sea, river, meadow or forest. In doing so, it confronts two possibilities: either that Nature reclaims what belonged to it or that man goes further, overcoming a limit and therefore a balance by covering it with other constructions.
I think to “Borders” that follow the crack that freely proceeds from one side and the other from neighboring countries. They are divided by an invisible line visible only on a map re-designed according to historical events that have circumscribed vast areas. However, these in nature remain open.
- 4: A WONDERFUL SUFFERING
In his best known book, the French psychologist and ethologist Boris Cyrulnik defines pain as “wonderful”. This title was not intended to speak paradoxically, but rather to immediately set one’s own line of thought. Despite the fact that he used to lead to major traumas and severe tragedies.
The major contribution of that book was about resilience, or the ability to have a positive, constructive and rebirth attitude following a major negative event.
Resilience is cited as a form of reaction against trauma. The most desirable, if we may say so. It represents a positive reaction, even following very serious events, which would normally harm the individual; the damage which occurs at the level of the psyche or in the ability to perceive reality, the relationship with other people or with the surrounding environment.
The event, seen from the point of view of a resilient individual, even becomes an opportunity for growth and a way to start over, also improve those character aspects that could have caused the trauma.
Talking about trauma as resilience is like talking about cracks as an opportunity. Therefore, the circle that started by defining the crack starting from the word closes.
You can see the intervention of Andrea Francolino, but also of other artists, as a highly positive force in arriving at a resilient attitude in a moment like the present.
The crack can be the face of resilience and that “pain” can be transformed into positive material, in an approach to the future, in a way of looking beyond.
After all, the crack is an approach, the trauma is not.
QUESTIONS TO THE ARTIST
- VULNERABILITY – IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID – IN YOUR OPINION, IS MORE DANGEROUS WHEN IT IS COLLECTIVE, BECAUSE IT SPREADS; OR WHEN IT IS SINGLE BECAUSE IT IS HIDDEN AND INDIVIDUAL INDIVIDUALS DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT.
<<Keeping everything inside means that everything, when compressed until it explodes. Maybe later, but with more force. So as far as this aspect is concerned, I assume that it is more dangerous when single. Because it is hidden and therefore repressed.>>
- <<DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR WORK, AS THAT OF OTHER ARTISTS, CAN HELP AT THIS TIME OR PEOPLE MUST BE TAKEN OF OTHER PROBLEMS?>>
<<Beauty always puts in a positive condition; I am sure that it is most useful in a negative moment even if it is plausible that people are concentrated in other things. However, art takes place beyond what happens and beauty plays a fundamental role for psychological well-being, especially if it can be used. On the contrary, if inaccessible it marks an impossibility and therefore can generate frustration. For this reason I preferred to implement the invitation to express one’s thoughts with the crack input.>>
<<An example of how important beauty is: assuming on the one hand a quarantine lived in a place whose window overlooks a smoking chimney or on a highway with failed shops; Or, on the other hand, one whose window overlooks the sea. This is proof of how useful art, culture and beauty can prove. Not everyone is lucky enough to look out onto a cliff, but art and culture can generate beauty that if it cannot save the world, it can certainly improve it>>.
- DO YOU THINK THE WORK ON THE CRACK YOU HAVE SHARED ON SOCIAL COULD HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS APPROACH TO POSITIVITY, RESILIENCE?
<<Many expressions that can be considered resilient have been positive for those who shared their cracks on social media; the project triggered the possibility of infecting many others with its positivity. I have received many calls from acquaintances who have anticipated wanting to share their crack while expressing their thoughts in the meantime, even though I noticed that the most melancholy ones were no longer shared; many of these remained only verbal. I read all this more as a pretext for venting or rather sharing a mood that needed to free itself from a burden. And these cracks, although they have remained more intimate and confidential, have been part of this universal process generated by a crack.>>
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