Fabrizio Plessi. 30 years in Mallorca
Fabrizio Plessi is one of the most renowned pioneers in the production of video installations. For thirty years he was linked to the island of Mallorca, where he had his residence. With this project, Es Baluard undertakes a review and analysis of those of his productions that he created on the island as a place of projection and inspiration.
In this sense, and in view of the imminent opening of the interpretation centre dedicated to Plessi in the S´Abeurador building in Santanyí (a town near Es Llombards, where he used to live), Es Baluard, as a museum with a long-term involvement with the artists featured in its collection and an arts centre committed to engaging in networking with local community projects, will be responsible for the scientific and curatorial part, according to an agreement signed last year with the Santanyí Town Hall.
Historically, we must go back to Fabrizio Plessi’s first contact with Mallorca in 1989, when he developed a proposal for an exhibition at the Palau Solleric, at a time when Plessi was at the peak of his career after his participation in the Documenta 8 in Kassel. Since then and until last year his projects have been conceived or developed from the peacefulness of the southeast part of the Mallorca island. An island that for the artist is a mirror of Venice, its complement in terms of light and atmospheres, of skylines and intensities.
Plessi’s universe is embedded in the baroque, but it is minimalist. His work is attentive to details, but it extends on scales that are always humanist. Analysed from the perspective of an art history in which the use of technologies in artistic creation, as well as in advertising, has become commonplace, the evolution of this artist is intrinsically related to the hybridisation of languages and the exploration of his own approach.
The foundations on which it is built, now more relevant than ever, refer to issues that are inherent to human beings and their evolution on a planet on the brink of a social and environmental abyss. I would therefore highlight six constant features of his work:
- An awareness regarding sustainability. Connecting elements of the Povera movement (branches, earth, iron…) with technology, the artist develops his own vocabulary that he gradually modulates in a personal way. The theme of water, his main theme, is to be found in his work at all times. In Mallorca, it appears in association with salt, in a trend in which he would work like an alchemist, combining basic elements with the electricity of the television sets that he uses in his installations. Here he was able to establish a special relationship with the wild environments, to respect and tune into the messages of a powerful and silent nature. With a particular interest in the passion for the infinity of the landscape evoked by German Romanticism, his works are a constant exaltation of nature as a perennial source of life.
- The idea of the Mediterranean as a nexus, as a source connecting with the different civilizations, their culture and their history from a past that Plessi uses as a means for debate in the present. The energy he finds in the two islands: Mallorca and Venice, both governed by water and a light of opposite nuances (a melancholic light in Venice as opposed to Mallorca’s heroic light, like a knife that carves the shadow of light, in the words of the artist himself). In addition to the similar cultural features, he finds in the simple elements of salt, dry stone or earth a common denominator that inspires him and is a sign of ancient civilisations.
- Monumentality as a way of playing with scales in the inside, within the protected museum space, and in the outside, on open public areas. Space is the basis of all his work, especially in the eighties, when he worked with scales of 1:1. He wishes to embrace places by creating emotions, he immerses himself in them from the perception of the genius loci, in a very well-considered way, dialoguing with them and their meaning. He always associates them with sound (either with natural sounds or with timeless musical compositions).
- Time and place are the core concepts on which most of his approaches are based. His immersion in the language of video by means of video installations allows him to provide the viewer with an essential exercise. His past is directed towards a future that is inscribed in it. To do so, he resorts to and manipulates objects or places of a historical nature using forms and situations that capture that liquid time through the movement of the image within. The circular form, also associated with the loop of his video installations, is both a sign and a medium.
- The viewer. The devices of theatre set design allow him to define modes of relationship that go beyond the purely aesthetic. The human figure does not appear since it is this human figure who really performs in his installations. The connection between the virtual and the real is established as a conceptual-based interactivity. Plessi is interested in the rhetoric of art, but he plays with the viewer’s perception and involves them in the decoding of the work.
- The container of liquid light. An indefatigable traveller of art and life, Plessi uses photography and drawing as his first contact with the genius loci of each place. As one of the initiators of the transformation of traditional sculpture, he was ahead of his times in the disembodiment of the matter captured in the container. Later, this disembodiment will be the representation of the anima naturalis, the essence.
The object is not what is important, but obviously the television container becomes an object and an image, as poetic medium, visual language and vehicle.
The aesthetics of the detail, from the macro to the micro level, of the physical versus the psychological, allows him to exalt the television not as a kitchen appliance but as the last vessel to intervene from a spiritual point of view. Free and capable of adapting to the flow of mediumistic images.
Bergson called the virtual image “pure memory”, as opposed to the mental images, the images of our memory or of daydreaming, all of which are updated against a new present.
We would say that much has already been written about his work. Therefore, the main part of the project in Es Baluard are artists’ books and editions. All the books of this stage, which begins in 1989, are displayed in showcases before the viewer, and are released in video format to allow the visitors to immerse themselves in the mysteries of the shared pages moved by the wind. Beyond time and space, even pushed by the swirling of a fan, the installation allows the books to be read and their movement between the real and the virtual.
Nekane Aramburu, 2nd of February, 2019.