Modeste Spoglie, presentation of Patrizio Bianchi

This exhibition by Massimo Cova presents itself with the modest semblance of a household utensils’ user’s manual. Meek tools of action are displayed showing their axiomatic coldness: closed tweezers, open tweezers, closed monkey wrenches, open monkey wrenches, closed scissors (for paper cutting), open scissors (for paper cutting). This catalogue is called upon to provide explanations on the side, patient specifications that are supposed to be punctual illustrations of common and well-known actions. Nevertheless, the items here are shadows, skeletal memories of items reduced to impressions and, as such, emptied of any remaining function.

Of course, ever since Man Ray and Duchamp there has been no daily item, from an orphaned bicycle wheel to an unsightly urinal, that has not had its moment of artistic vanity, and it is also clear that most of the Twentieth Century had been revelling in household knick-knacks, turning them into mirrors of light, exaltations of shape, or explosions of colour.

Massimo Cova empties these same items, shaping them into lines, arcs, signs, that acquire a life of their own: the vigorous clothes peg, which in its presumed reality has the function of clamping itself onto fluttering clothes, fixing them to a wire stretched over a void, here becomes an amulet of an unknown religion, maybe a bear tooth, a duckbill to hang on the neck of its hunter. The scissors could be birds of the night with huge unnerving eyes, with the mouth, open or closed, of that weird “English” vertebrate and, finally, what else could be said of those pliers that might be a fish, which all of a sudden opens its voracious jaws, terrible when it moves in shoals; it is not possible not to recognize in that same shape an evident sex of a female, which, on opening becomes a ferocious mouth.

Shapes, signs, lines, delimiting analogies and metaphors that anyone could then read within their own catalogue of marvels, if the pedantic author had not placed his own captions under the images. However these same explanations are in truth incomprehensible to us and we can only assume that the ideograms placed between the two images, proposed with such accuracy, simply refer to “monkey wrenches”, given the precise mechanism of the. That those ideograms refer specifically to the programmatic content of a user’s manual for daily utensils is itself an inference, one which is verifiable only in part, through other people’s mediation. One may suspect that even words are here reduced to a sign, a line, a metaphor, not necessarily corresponding to a defined and predetermined meaning; maybe those signs also correspond to a metaphorical Chinese or, maybe, they indicate the place of origin of the inks used by the author.

With delicate irony, Massimo Cova leaves us the answer as to the degree of certainty to be deemed tolerable to us, inviting us not to take for granted such obvious tools. After all, it is exactly the search for the essence of things that allows the meanings to be reinvented, searching in our own current life for the meaning of the imaginary lives of the thousand signs that gather dust in the shed of our daily tools.

Patrizio Bianchi

Modest Spoils