(Suárez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, book IV, cap. XIV, Lérida, 1658) On Exactitude in Science, Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley
…In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.
Andrea Francolino’s first solo show at Mazzoleni, Turin features a sequence of antinomies. On the one hand, the show offers a mapping of the artist’s journeys across different lands; on the other hand, it presents an attentive recording of the ground’s minimal traces.
Francolino tries to make sense of this unpredictability in his series of glass works Caso x caos x infinite variabili (Chance x Chaos x Infinite Variables) in which the crack is replicated in its original scale, generating a relationship between the natural and the artificial in the attempt to reconstruct the track of an unpredictable line. Each crack has its own shape as each itinerary is unique and unreproducible.
The search for reproducibility becomes the element that unifies the artist’s different types of research. The same principle is evident in the video series Minuto (Minute), in which numerous images of cracks are projected on a variety of supports in an impossible effort to find the “right” overlap.
The crack marks – and draws – the surrounding space: whether it is a crack on the public street in front of the gallery, or the faults separating the Earth’s tectonic plates.
From a technological material such as the screen of an electronic device to papers traversing a complete grammar of material, Francolino analyses a universal phenomenon, freezing a moment in time. Although his works always have geographical and physical coordinates that relate to a dimension of landscape, this research also analyses one of the characteristics of time, thanks to the properties of the physical dynamic.
In the series Percorsi (Pathways), the artist has mapped on paper seven specific cracks he found on the ground. These traces illustrate the movement of matter in certain stopovers of his journey. The displacement from the starting point – his own studio – to its conclusion, generates an equivalent, fissure-like shape when drawn on paper. The seven traces remain imprinted on Hahnemühle paper.
The installation Dalla terra al cemento alla terra al cemento (From earth to concrete to earth to concrete) creates a dialogue between two materials building a slow dissolution from one substance to another through a chromatic scale made up of the two materials that determine many common landscapes: a mathematical control over chaos. Here too the artist seems to run into Zeno’s paradox, as if there was an intermediate possibility between one element and another.
The dualism between real and artificial is also present in A-Biotic, a work displaying the anthropic representation of nature through a continuous association with plant forms. It investigates the paradox of competing with nature by trying to imitate or replace it. In these works, there is an attempt to resume the organic perfection of plants: a Fibonacci sequence that has its own inner geometry. A-Biotic highlights this symbiotic, increasingly dialectical relationship between nature and industry, green spaces and large metropolises.
Several new works from Francolino’s “water series” are included in the show. Space and time are imprinted on paper using only the inorganic element of water, which defines images relating to macro and micro. The intimate reflections suggested by the crack relate to concepts of fragility and impermanence. Using water only – either collected from alpine glaciers and rivers, or from springs and the sea – this body of works is at once ephemeral and durable, thanks to the coordinates that fix its existence into a precise spatial and temporal context chosen by the artist. Differently from the works in earth and concrete dust, the results of this series are a type of sculptural positive of the cracks in the soil, where the support “absorbs” their three-dimensionality.
The exhibition ends with an environment in which the preciousness of the crack – both physical and symbolic – is celebrated as a sign of the passing of time as well as the perpetual movement of the continental plates.
The visual elements include interventions in earth dust on the floor, gold on the wall, and lapis lazuli on the ceiling. Thin leaves and pure pigments of gold and ultramarine – precious materials reminding of Italian Medieval masterpieces with hieratic figures on golden-painted backgrounds – give substance to Francolino’s research on the crack. Like glimpses of the Universe, they reunite earth and sky, matter and spirit, bearing witness to the hidden preciousness of what is – only apparently – void.
If there are many, they must be as many as they are and neither more nor less than that. But if they are as many as they are, they would be limited. If there are many, things that are are unlimited. For there are always others between the things that are, and again others between those, and so the things that are are unlimited.