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Stefano Scheda - Artifici (Photographs)

Essays (Italian / English) by Peter Weiermair, Alice Rubbini e Gabriella Landini
Hardcover
Cover Design: Stefan Sagmeister
Size: cm 29 x 22,5
pp. 32
12 colour-illustrations
Edizioni Pendragon (February 1999)
ISBN -90-6
List Price: € 14,97 $ 14,50
Our Price: € 10,32 $ 10

This critical 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.

Peter Weiermair, January 1999
(From the essay of the book)



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