That which cannot be proposed was represented.
Exhibitions reach their scheduled termination dates and are dismantled. In theory that usually happens also for theatrical productions, town fairs, and even party decorations in a room. Nothing is more normal; however there is something outrageous in the closing of an art exhibition: it is an arbitrary decision than interrupts the natural expression of feelings that can be produced only in that particular conjunction of space and time and that does not possess, genetically, the sense of its own impermanence. An exhibition, in reality, does not end: it is interrupted but its real-time is different. The offspring of spirit is destined to resonate forever.
Normally it is an event the artist avoids. He or she lets others, unknown laborers, technicians of that trade, do it. The artist only gets back the packed works and perhaps tries not to think about it, as one does not think about the putrefaction of bodies or the inevitable crumbling of monuments. The artist does not participate and the visitors, as far as they are concerned, ignore what is going on. The reference point, for all, is simply the beginning of the following exhibition and the action of dismantling remains a silent act, something mechanical that others have to do and about which one prefers to be silent because it could be uninteresting, or too sad.
January 22nd, 2005 was the date set for the closing of Paolo Parisi’s exhibition “Conservatory (San Sebastiano)”. At 8 p.m. the conservatories had been dismantled, layer after layer, and lied still and enigmatic in their gigantic wooden shrouds, to go who knows where.
The wall paintings “Islands” remained on the walls of Quarter. In a way orphans for those who had seen them come to light with the rest of the installation, they were still aware of their autonomous beauty and of their aesthetic thoroughness. The necessity that controls everything imposed their deletion and it could have been, like every other time, an ordinary event. A technical action that would have reset, at least visually, the neutral space of the central hall to make room for something else. It was turned into a spectacular event.
It was a lay ceremony, with a funeral service that followed the liturgy dictated by art. That which imposes upon itself precepts in line with eternity, the inextinguishable disruption of beauty, the continuous course of created things.
In the morals of the contemporary, there is a no yet resolved conflict about the possibility of preservation and of perpetuation of the idea that was contracted in form. To hold on an object-an idea, a person, or a thought is a form of love. Sometimes fractures are only the most obscure part of a new source, and when a work of art is removed, other shapes and other ideas rise from its ending.
So that which could not be proposed was staged: death, the end of a time, even if it was the transient one provided for by the original destination, as scheduled.
This was the scene: to the islands on the walls, it corresponded, on the horizontal plane, an archipelago of actors, each with his or her role, who celebrated the removal.
Four decorators climbed the scaffolding and the platforms to cover Paolo Parisi’s works with white paint. At the center of the hall the volume of loudspeakers and projectors rose. The lights’ direction modulated the passages, tempering the strict duotone of that space with the electrical tones of purple, red, and blue.
From a quartet sprang the spontaneous, uncontrollable sound of jazz music, intolerant of the laws of composition. Two rows of movie theater chairs, absurdly landed and placed obliquely in the hall, complained of having been eradicated from their context. On one side, or perhaps on the other, the clear voice of exile, departure, elision, the voices of the woman singer and of the actress intertwined in a countermelody that sparkled through space, sound, and light.
The audience was silent.
From the height of their positions, angels announcing a controversial second coming, the wall painters proceeded with their work to erase the recent exhibition.
All this happened, and perhaps even something else.
For the first time, in a contemporary art center, a normal change from one exhibition to the next was made public: a still unknown way to celebrate the end of a work of art.
© 2005 The author, Maschietto Editore. Sergio Risaliti, curated by, Paolo Parisi / John Duncan. Conservatory (San Sebastiano), exhibition catalog (book + CD), with texts by Daniela Cascella, Pietro Gaglianò, Giovanni Iovane, Sergio Risaliti, Florence, October 2005.