At the bank headquarters in Piazza Galvani, Elia Cantori shows a number of new photograms—direct impressions on photographic paper, unmediated by a camera lens—from his series Dead Constellation, and several aluminum sculptures from his series Untitled (1:1 Map) (2016).
Among the works that brought Cantori to critical attention, one should note Stanza [Room] from 2008, a sphere about one meter across, made of compacted rubble from the demolition of the artist’s studio in London; and Untitled (Explosion) (2009-10), a series of photograms of small explosions, in which each image corresponds to the flash of light that formed it on the paper. Untitled (Black Hole), a large resin sculpture on whose surface Cantori captured a view of his studio using a pinhole camera technique, was shown in 2016 in the group show LA CAMERA: Sulla materialità della fotografia, curated by Simone Menegoi at the Banca di Bologna Hall in Palazzo De’ Toschi.
On the ground floor of the Banca di Bologna headquarters—a room that looks out onto Piazza Galvani—Cantori is showing several new pieces from his Dead Constellation series, begun in 2011. At first glance, they resemble photographs of a starry sky. But in point of fact, they are direct impressions of a handful of meteorite dust scattered over the photosensitive paper. When it is exposed to light, the meteorite particles mask the points under them, which become white dots on the dark background when the photogram is developed. The meteorite dust—the echo of a “dead constellation” that came apart billions of years ago—forms a new constellation on the paper, an imaginary one. These works forge a fascinating dialogue with Erin Shirreff ’s new video Son, on view at the same time at the Banca di Bologna Hall in Palazzo De’ Toschi: just as Cantori recreates an astronomical image in the darkroom, the Canadian artist uses animation to stage a total eclipse of the sun inside her studio.
The sculptures in the series Untitled (1:1 Map) are aluminum casts, created with a traditional sand-mold technique, of several maps that the artist had in his studio. The content of the maps—the regions they depicted, the scale, etc.—is in no way revealed by the aluminum surface; what it instead preserves, and accentuates, is the pattern of folds, the traces of use and wear. The sculptures are thus maps (with the 1:1 scale of a casting) of maps; rather than describing the world, they speak of the tools we use to depict it. Together, these photograms and sculptures by Cantori weave a discourse about the limitations (and allure) of cartographic representation.
Elia Cantori’s primary discipline is sculpture, but his choice of techniques is eclectic: in addition to full-fledged sculptures, he creates photographic works, installations, and videos.
His art portrays the connection between energy and matter; it refers to celestial phenomena, but at the same time, the closed world of the studio, as a testing ground and place of inquiry. His experimental approach, with its constant reliance on physical and chemical processes, invites comparisons to the methods of a scientist.
2 febrauary – 4 march 2018
Banca di Bologna Headquarters
Courtesy CAR DRDE, Bologna; Photographs: Carlo Favero.