Scheda - Artifici (Photographs)
note concerns the most recent production of Stefano Scheda. The new
works, despite a different approach on the part of the artist to the
theme of the body, reflect the continuity of his aesthetic interests.
Scheda has been interested from the outset in the - today so topical
- subject of the body. It is the young male body, whose erotic and sexual
connotations are set in sharp relief, which is the centre of his interest.
Photography has by now long been this artist's means of expression.
In fact, Scheda started out with photographs of himself or erotic video
scenes; this material was transformed and estranged, presenting images
of bodies open and torn. The effectiveness of such images lies in their
semantic polivalence, in their utopian appeal, in their cruelty which
is always accompanied by beauty. Disease, death, decay, decomposition
of the body, but also a sado-masochistic impulse reminiscent of Bacon,
are the determining elements for the reading of these images. If the
broken body was the final aim of these works, it seems that Scheda's
new production has the opposite aim, namely that of the body whole rather
than fragmented - 'classical'. The image is now manifest, the format
of the photographs is notably large; no longer is there the presence,
despite the use of the computer, of sizable aesthetic manipulation.
The body is substantial; it does not dissolve, melt or explode; it no
longer opens itself up. Rather, it appears in the poses of the dance,
in natural nakedness. The architectonic setting bestows upon it something
of the classical. The naturalness of the attitudes, however, is transformed
- as the title would suggest - into something artificial, even somewhat
irritating. Every slide, every fluctuation can degenerate into a fall,
a collapse; the precious balance is of short duration. And there also
emerges here, as almost always with Scheda, a duplicity, which contains
within itself negativity, disease, death, decadence: flight is already
a fall, rest is already death, an eccentric form of physical portrayal
has also within itself the possibility of a sadistic ritual. One can
easily sense it: the heaped-up bodies are those of friends (very often
the artist is both subject and object of his work), but the beautiful
image could be that of a pile of corpses or of the participants in an
almost ended orgy. So Scheda in no way follows, classically the saying
'mens sana in corpore sano': his images are symbols of a degraded beauty.
Stability and instability are not simply conditions of the force of
gravity, but also signs of a profound irritation. Scheda is not interested
- as at first sight one might be led to think - in a remake of the earlier
'Bodyworks' or in exploring the language of the body; nor is he dealing
in a form of narcissism. No, the little transformations obtained, thanks
to the computer, excite fear in us: also here it is fear which matters
to the artist, a fear which is born in us but only at second glance.