Project Description

“OH! CLOUDS! GIVE ME GOOD ADVICE.”

THE CLOUDS, ARISTOPHANES

What do the clouds and democracy have in common? Who is the architect of the current idea of society? Should art and architecture be limited to and limit themselves to their own fields or should they analyze, explore, and discuss current forms of social upheaval, imagining alternative landscapes and behaviors that might give rise to the ideal city? These are questions that have been asked with renewed strength and intensity over the past five years while life and our understanding of it have been dramatically altered. The answers — based on an almost inexplicable complexity — have been confused and partial and as useful as tools for catching clouds.

Tools for Catching Clouds is one of five sections of Lanfranco Aceti’s installation titled Preferring Sinking to Surrender which was conceived by the artist for the Italian Pavilion, Resilient Communities, curated by Alessandro Melis for the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021. The five sections are: Tools for Catching Clouds; Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part I; Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part II; Sacred Waters; and Orthós. These sections (singularly and collectively) create a complex narrative that responds to this year’s theme of How Will We Live Together? set by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale.

The works of art — realized as a series of performances and sculptural, video, and painting contributions — are part of the installation at the Italian Pavilion from May 21, 2021, to November 21, 2021, (the opening and closing dates of the Venice Architecture Biennale).

Texts, images, and videos will be uploaded until November 21, 2021. If you wish to receive updates as the works of art unfold, please subscribe to the newsletter.

Taking resistance and resilience as the starting points, the artist is developing a body of work that examines historical inheritances, contemporary upheavals, and actions that might generate different visual interpretations of social engagement, community, and our individual place within them.

The works of art use a hypoiconic metaphor to represent personal histories upon a flag — made from a ripped white linen sheet — that symbolizes the divorce of the individual from the state. The white flag is like a canvas that embodies the remnants of fractured social relations. It can be interpreted at first glance as a symbol of surrender, but symbolizes instead a white space upon which personal histories of resistance, resilience, and defiance can be written.

The flag becomes a tool to critique contemporary society outside current political frameworks, which categorize personal narratives and inscribe them within the preordered and acceptable values of the body politic. Inspired by Aristophanes’ The Clouds, the works of art question our ability to relate to and to engage with environmental and social exploitation through traditional terms. They seek to ‘catch’ alternative visions and understandings.

The works of art inherit the artist’s epistemological discourse: an analysis of the mess humanity has made of things. The answers that we seek, Aceti argues, similarly to Aristophane’s comedic work, might reside in the absurd, in the unforeseen, and in the preposterous. Therefore, farcical tools should be invented to investigate and catch what has been deemed untenable and implausible.

The images and video show these basic structures and are based on an accretion of images and meanings that will evolve during the duration of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

“It is not unusual for me, as an artist,” explains Aceti, “to appear to be out of place. Many people I know lack that sense of belonging, of being part of something larger. In many cases each of us has found a refuge in something. My cave, and I use the term cave with knowledgeable insight, is art. It has allowed me to communicate, over the years, with people, finding a resilience and resistance, but also a creativity in re-imagining possible alternatives to the reality I was experiencing, that I did not know I had.”

The works of art engage with themes of democracy, exclusion, and being peripheral, as well as the idea that nature itself seems to have become peripheral to humanity’s life. Tools for Catching Clouds is a re-interpretation in matriarchal terms of the reality that surrounds us. Against patriarchal traditional structures and modes of exploitation it offers the opportunity to ensure that ‘what is’ does not become a permanent condition but the basis upon which, through a series of ‘what ifs’, we can imagine alternatives, unorthodox futures, and unconforming modes of existence.

Tools for Catching Clouds is a way of imagining and creating, from a starting point of an absurd notion and a white flag, a path of liberation that reflects our deepest personal and communal experiences.

Image Captions:

Lanfranco Aceti, Luring Left,  2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, You’re Looking at the Finger, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Less of You, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, More of Me, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Luring Left,  2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Luring Right, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Shiny Objects of Diversion, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Flapper Number One, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Flapper Number Two, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Notwithstanding… I Withstand, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Tools for Catching Clouds, 2021. Video, 9 minutes and 35 seconds. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects.

Lanfranco Aceti, Frames Looking Back and Frames Looking Forward, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Frames Looking Forward and Frames Looking Back, 2021. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, The Gate, 2021. Photographic print on acid free paper. Wood pole, ripped linen sheet, sequins, lures, feather, and shiny objects. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.