Lowlife wellbeing center_bunker house
CHANGING ROLE - MOVE OVER GALLERY
“Low Life Wellbeing Center_Bunker House”
curated by Alessandro Facente
10 October -28 November 2009
The Changing Role gallery, with its two upstairs and downstairs spaces, becomes an imaginary wellbeing centre populated by punks, individuals and groups, standing at once for dissidence and conformism, and playing on the overturning of social roles through the concept of appointed place as appointed body. The idea is to create a gap in an officially “logical” system; whilst it is logical to imagine a wellbeing centre in a luxury hotel, it is less so to imagine it in a squatter’s warehouse. Bellobono’s painting process does not depart in character from the register for which he has come to be appreciated in Italy and internationally, but here there is a clearer emphasis on the true and characteristic aims of an artistic choice that goes beyond mere portraiture. This may be due in part to Bellobono’s recent work in the United States, culminating in his exhibition at New York’s Envoy Gallery in June 2009. The artist’s recent production evidences a need to construct an anthropological and social catalogue, an analysis of behaviours linked to belonging and human identity whose effects are analysed through faces. This conceptual framework is supported less by the desire to portray someone through their facial structure than by the need to state that the face is in fact a fertile ground on which to imprint the morphologies of a changing and influential outside world. Whether this be real, as in the ice ravaging the faces of Bellobono’s previous subjects, or ideal as in this new work, where the violence of the acid colour tones represents the anomalous influence of contemporary society, the need to define objectives is experienced in a far more acute way. The artist starts from an analysis of the subcultures which have emerged in recent years, debating the sifting process which they undergo within an official, widespread and accepted culture, which at generational intervals discharges new “acceptable” formulas, deprived of their ideological underpinning in favour of new marketing opportunities. The Low Life concept is perfectly suited to evoking these images of a rejected, low culture, in clear opposition to a more institutionalised form of culture. The word punk has its origins in precisely this context; the term historically refers specifically to something of low quality, worth nothing. In this new series of drawings, executed in a more severe style, the acrylics on canvas made in New York and the double video animation installed in the downstairs black room, Angelo Bellobono depicts the protagonists of an imaginary wellbeing centre where yoga and pilates are practiced (forms of activity which on the face of it have little to do with punk or pseudo-punk culture) and where the Sex Pistols’ god save the queen becomes a new age mantra to the chorus of ‘no future for you’. A vast range of genuine and serious shortcomings, linked to real hardships and difficulties, have produced an equivalent number of ostentatiously flaunted token attitudes, deployed with the aim of opposing institutionalized systems but which eventually create equivalent and parallel systems which are equally hierarchical and rigid. The tendency of human beings to organize themselves into ghettos and groups lies at the heart of all forms of intolerance and behavioural arrogance.
Bunker House, the project curated by Alessandro Facente, starts from the expression Power House (in Pilates this refers to the body’s centre of balance and posture where all movements originate) to analyse the pervasive and ceaseless stimulation which we undergo, but with which our bodies are unable to keep pace. An awareness of this leads to an analysis of the use of technologies, new forms of communication and interpersonal relationships (social networks, private chat systems like msn, skype, etc) which help the body to receive these stimuli more easily because they are easier to share (posts, notes, video, audio, etc). Particularly interesting is the hypothetical central position occupied by our emotions in this system of relationships, the nerve centre where the upper and lower parts of our bodies conceptually converge as places of perception, assimilation and rejection. Fascinating above all is the awareness that the body may represent a unique, alternative but tendentially closed, system oriented towards the assimilation of external stimuli which are later re-emitted in differently assimilated forms. This is not a sharing system but a watertight structure, a sealed Bunker - a play on the word Punker - within which to construct new rules that are often even more rigid than the official ones. The iconic and ironic image of a punk saluting the sun and doing pilates exercises is the most appropriate way of expressing the contradictions typical of a society which tends to destroy ideologies in favour of a more interactive emotional stimulation where ipocrites turns out to be the provider in greatest demand.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 3 pm/7 pm