It's still dark in the night

PHOTOGRAPHS FOR AN ISLAND

 

ON THE TRACES OF THE MAN

It's still dark in the night

 

Cultural Center Man Ray

 

From 16.12.2006 until 10.01.2007

 

 

Foto_001The theme of the metamorphosis, the perpetual transformations of the natural elements in perfect symbiosis with the female figure that seems to begin and dissolve inside them, the changeability of the man more generally, in its corporeal and spiritual entity, have always characterized the esthetic research of Stefano Grassi. Eventually, that one of the metamorphosis, saturated of literary implications passing through Ovid, through the baroque art and panism of D’Annunzio, gone focusing in that one more compulsory of the identity that is DROPped in the everyday reality, empty of literary velleities and loaded with more problematic and dramatic connotations. At the time of the fragmentation and of the crush of the I, of the being and not being, of the being one, noone and one hundred thousand, of the multiple, indefinable, ambiguous identities elusive in relation with the distinctions and hierarchies of the society or, vice versa, of the schizoid identities, the theme became one of the more delicate, more controversial and, necessarily, more debated in the contemporary art.
In this context, the concept of identity and of the identitary feeling seen as a secure landing, as a privileged place of the social identification, in the recognizing first in the collective sphere and then in precise subjective models, did not can not enter in crisis. The reality defragrates and the roles are confused, the certainties, those some survived to a relativism devastating for one, fertile for other, waver and dissolve in a colored disorder where the games of bank, reflection and sprain of the personality become more real and coercive than the reality. Inevitably concepts as “identity” and “alterity” and the same “dialectic of the recognition” are subverted, exchanged or ambiguously polluted.
Could the art remain insensible to a little morbid and certainly very voyeristic charm of phenomenons characterized by theFoto_04 expropriation and by the loss of the identity, by the deflagration of the individual biographies and by their “delocalization” with the relative fall of the obligations of spatial contiguity and of territorial community, where cohabit and intertwine local and global, and, finally, where dominates an “I” always more poly-identitary, in continuous process of scrapping and precarious redefinition? Stefano Grassi to this question, willingly rhetoric, answers with It’s still dark in the night..., a series of photographs that has as a subject the world of transgender of Cagliari of the last generation: young, very young “abloom girl” in the research of a “normality” desired as much as impossible. Already from the title we get a purpose of the artist to reproduce a night world that materializes, as this one of the mothes, far from the diurnal light and, in the case in point, far from that “normality” desired but rejected that during the day celebrates its splendor. It is an overlook on the “other” world, apparently distant also if easy to reach, a world that suffers its metamorphosis in the evening and disappears, with a good portion of cleansing lotion, at the dawn of the next day.
Without expressing judgements of the moral nature and without show off, in spite of the delicate theme, simple trash effects, Grassi goes to increase the rows of those ones who in the last fifteen years individuated in the variegated and kaleidoscopic environment of transsexuals the “place” of the contradictions and of the idiosyncrasies of the contemporaneity. It is enough to think about the photographic series staged in the sixties and seventies of the last century by Pierre Molinier, where the same artist pictured himself in the female clothes consorted with sexual objects of the various nature in environments that evoke sordid brothels. To the limit of the pornography he discomposed traditional sexual roles and introduced, without willing it, that one that in the future will become the notion of transgender. More, the disturbing and often blood curdling photos of Joel-Peter Witkin of the eighties. His attraction towards everything that is “different”, bizarre, freakish wore the funeral colors of the deviance, of the mental insanity, of the sadism, of the perversion and of the death. Finally, always in the ambit of the photography, Nan Goldin with the series The Other Side about the environment of the trans, testimony of extreme forms of existence in origin not accepted neither inside the gay world, victims of the prisons of the prejudice and of the socially prescribed identities, that are relegated in a night dimension. Seems, that on the distance of fortyFoto_12 years from the elaboration of these works, nothing is changed if, as reminds Stefano Grassi, it’s still dark in the night. Without renouncing to a veiled form of denunciation, choose a way where there is no space for the plumbeous and negative atmospheres of his famous predecessors. Photos of Grassi are crossed by a light and easygoing irony that has fun to make the grimaces to more or less patinated calendars that to any change of the year propose always more half-dressed pin up or fatuous showgirls governing in the  everyday teleidiocy and prepares a vaguely underground series where his pretty girls perform in emphasized positions, now glamour, now falsely timid and  modest, now willingly provoking and arrogant, of a femininity of rotogravure formed for an use and consumption of the contemporary voyeurism.
Made aseptic and artificial, “cold” because of sophisticated techniques where nothing is left by the case and pertinent more to the genre of the still life than to the documentation of “human” environments, the photos of Stefano Grassi broach, as would do a collector of butterflies, the “mothes” of the night more than to a reality, to an improbable hypothesis of life. Photographed bodies, in their material concreteness and their symbolic valence of “place” of the identity, are exposed, daringly, in their more exterior appearance that hides or even places oneself as an  alternative, with the same or major dignity, to any inner instance. Therefore the dress stops to be, as it was in the classic and Christian meaning, involucre or covering of the soul: in the radicalization of the makeup “the real opposition is not between soul and body, but between life and dress” (M. Perniola 2004).

 

Ivo Serafino Fenu