Mirko Canesi, Save Point

Mirko Canesi’s (I, 1981 - lives and works in Milan and Brussels) work is protean : It is nevertheless underpinned by lines of force which explore the investment and the concretization of mental and cultural / immaterial universes or, conversely, which explore, the confrontation of these with a physical and natural reality. In a way, his work aims at a dialectical resolution of these components by in fact creating artefacts and hybrid environments where natural and artificial man-made environments come together, and collide.

This is how, fascinated by the world of virtual reality, video games, and gaymers culture, he willingly gives them a physical and sculptural form.
The starting points of the present exhibition are two landmark video games from the early 90’s, Shadow of the Beast (published by Psygnosis Limited,1989) and Flashback (developed by Delphine Software, 1992), both set in futuristic jungle environments.
Some details or frame captures of their « natural » backgrounds elements are here materialzed, using different techniques or crafts.

Its very title, Save Point evoking these safe areas of rest which allow the players to capitalize their points, might sound paradoxical, to say the least, or even straightforwardly critical and ironic, since all traces of human presence are erased from these framed landscapes.
In this context, it might rather designate all these post-human environments that will survive humanity, whether it be in natural or virtual reality - the latter possibility being though, at this stage, a contradiction per se.

The first piece which the visitor will discover upon entering the room is a monumental diptych relief, Fregio dei Giganti, the Italian for Frieze of the Giants, assuming, if in a subverted way, Wagnerian overtones, as in a reversed Götterdammerung, where the to-be-extinguished species might be humanity itself.

Realized using different layers of poplar cut by laser before being assembled, Fregio dei Giganti gives a three-dimensional shape to a detailed depiction of these creepers which inform the backgrounds of many a video game, and of Shadow of the Beast in particular.

The promethean gesture of giving a concrete shape to these elements, initially designed to be confined within the two-dimensional space of a (television) screen, is using here advanced 3D printing technologies.

This is not the case in the 3 delicately carved Flashback open terracotta high reliefs which we find on the adjacent walls of the exhibition room.

These manmade virtual environments are here recreated and given life thanks to the hand of the artist himself, resorting to a very traditional crafts technique and material, and adopting a more human scale, akin to the formats of a televisual screen.
Their open framed structures enhance the lone presence of the creepers and of these fantasy platforms whence the humanoïd characters of the game would jump to one another, in an absurd attempt at accumulating more and more points, as a metaphor of the search for constant growth, increasing profits and over-exploitation which has led humanity to the deadlocks that we are now facing.

The last piece of in the exhibition, Rocaille, evokes in it’s title the artificial natural grotto structures and follies which would adorn baroque gardens.

It is a contemporary adaptation of the concept that Canesi has been developing over the past years under this title, creating high reliefs made up with colored resin climbing holds used in articificial climbing walls. The present work though offers a subsequent involutive declension of this series, as it is, just as the Flashback reliefs here above, made up of terracotta elements hand-fashioned by the artist.

All in all, the dual and dialectical relationships between man and its environment, whether it be constructed, artificial, virtual or real / material and natural, is expressed in multi-layered ways in Canesi’s body of work, with these to-and-fros between relationships of projection and domination and, conversely, a subordination to the fundamental and unstoppable freedom of the natural element : albeit passed through the prisms of prior reconstructions and virtual projections, it will finally overcome humankind, victim of its unstoppable greed and hubris.

Emmanuel Lambion - Bn PROJECTS

for and

13/10/22 > 30/11/2022