Text by Silvio Benedetto for a photographic exhibition by Giovanni Rizzo.

"The concept of 'definitive text' belongs only to religion or to weariness.".
Jorge Luis Borges

In his "Universal history of infamy" Borges tells that when he died a man was assigned a house, in the other world, illusory similar to the one he had had on earth. He believed he was not dead. Everything was the same: objects, drawers, rooms, tools, everything in short. And as soon as Melanchthon (as that man was called) woke up in this new domicile he resumed his activities as if he had never been a corpse. Then the angels questioned him ... Then everything dissolved until it became invisible except ... But that's another story ...
Who knows if someone, such as that Melanchthon of Borges, unaware of being dead, still lives in that abandoned farmhouse (I will name it shortly); or if another man is still sitting in that boat waiting for the favorable sea, looking to his left at the lighthouse and in front of Marettimo far away (I will say shortly); or if a third such person still breathes brackish water (in Trapani: I will tell). Or perhaps within the images (which I will describe shortly) that Giovanni has captured, the voices of silence still whisper. Or maybe, instead, over-dubs bring these disturbing whispers to us. We try, at least. (After Chaos came the intellect and put order, promulgated Anaxagoras). Concreteness, simplicity, conciseness. Prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance (exaggerated!). Arts of the crossroads! (exaggerated). Let's put order. It is necessary to state. So?
So: Giovanni Rizzo will exhibit three of his photographs, united in a triptych, in Campobello di Licata (Agrigento) in the Liberty Framework (no Floral, no Art Nouveau, no villas of Palermo and Aspra) where we will find Beppe Napoli and many friends who are fans of art and of culture. He will accompany the exhibition with a printout containing this writing, the reproduction of the triptych and the indication “from… to…”. But first, to correct this text, he will once again have to resort to the help of Silvia Lotti. Scribbles on the sheet no longer in the register? Silvia will have to decode and more. The more I go on, the more my handwriting, already svirgolata truncated incomplete, changes into a kind of transcribed gamelot. Wrong spelling to leave no space between word and word because, perhaps, the hand competes with the mind in my life of transhumance which is also a zibaldone. We need Silvia graphologist. You too, I said, need concreteness, simplicity and conciseness: it is therefore necessary to go back to Giovanni's photographic exhibition. Three photographs. Shots (unique in places) of April 2018. Taken with Nikon D750 digital SLR with 24 mm wide-angle lens. decentralized: "Barca" on the island of Favignana, "Garcitella" in Campobello and "Salina" in Trapani (my arbitrary titles). Enlargements on satin photographic paper joined in triptych, cm. 200x80, mounted on forex support. Space between subjects? Just under an inch. (Frames when shooting or printing?). I was clear, without particular effort, despite my inexhaustible ability to confuse, mix, associate, 'andarme por las ramas'. Let's try to continue like this.
Could it affect us, in seeing the photos, the knowledge or familiarity of the places portrayed and the memory of their history? What would happen if these were exhibited in other cities, without captions, news? We see. And how did Giovanni place himself in front of the subjects? From a distance, looking towards the call (ad-spicere), or moving centrally and approaching (pro-spicere), wanting only that particular perspective, that shot? Duality contemplation-reflection or 'love at first sight' and reflex? Contemplation: dialogue of the known part of oneself with the unknown found? Is the interpenetration between thought and reality not distanced from reflection? Instants. (How many atoms-how many! A tome could be written). Do we take into account the author's self-communication in front of the subjects? Subjects found or sought? What modality, or what capacity, ours, to approach his self-communication? How did John live the moment in which he was faced with that silent abandonment? In front of the ruins between Campobello and Licata? (Where my stubborn imagination could find that Nuccio D’Alagna who founds a New Colony around the Gargir tower, who tries to revive the spring and fight against the phylloxera to reactivate the millstone). How did Giovanni experience the abandoned salt pan of Isola Lunga? (Where my stubborn imagination sees, in the mud of the abandoned tanks, a burbujar of wild clams and, further on, cadenced dances of flamingos and hopping rabbits and, further on, the Stagnone and, further on, Mozia from where the 'Efebo looks at us). How did Giovanni experience the skeletal carcass of the half boat in Favignana? (Here my stubborn fantasy refers to later). A little above I said "love at first sight and reflex". Reflecting, love at first sight, yes, but then reflection: Giovanni moves, places himself in a central point of visual perception, installs the tripod, calibrates the optimal exposure times. Stop. Let's move away from the moment of the shot and go back to the images in their exhibition 'guise'. I emphasize "exhibition" because Giovanni wanted to present this triptych to us in large format (observing it, typographically reduced, where reception is conditioned by duration and provisional nature, is another 'ballgame'). What is our chance to interact with the author's subsequent communication? How to interact with what he wants to convey by exposing publicly? Now that the content is treated and transferred on an artistic level? (Art moves away from the ordinary, from the everyday). Giovanni's aesthetics, however, are a message. Relations of a historical, psychological, socio-cultural, semiological nature intermingle, interacting (especially in the "Barca" where the excellent technique is forgotten to give rise to a differentiated, an extra-photographic). Decoding? Destruction?
The 'read' images are now 'rewritten'. The visitor (observer?) Not only 'consumes' but also 'produces'. The image can become something else, even more if moved elsewhere (ibidem, or rather midemma). The image transcends, 'overflows' (Bodei could say that it overflows similar to an overflow fountain). The subject is not crystallized, caged. The 'reading' becomes performative. It originates multiple possibilities of meaning even in the apparent freeze-frame. The photo questions us, disturbs us. Dead reality? Latent unreality. Works exhibited, document-testimony of the real yes but lived by us with the memory of our inner life, the fabulous dimension of our availability often asleep in wanting to go further. Seeing our inner scene, yes. Not the fictional 'theater'. Only our interior scene assumed, now, as the generator of every prodigy.
Let's try to start over. Come on, unless my wits are slow. It would take the gradatio (of Bonaventure's itinerarium) through which the mens activates us to contemplative peace. A 'simple' path, in short (can you see me? Like this? In the thirteenth-century treatise on mysticism? By the way, have you been to Bagnoregio?). My chronological time is not the time of photos. And my time is not the time of the clock. Let's leave it alone if you 'think or believe' (Os-si di cuttlefish Montaliani, man mount wings to dare to fly). Forget whether enlightenment or religion. Whether public or private, abstract or concrete, Mina or Milva, mind or body, Ikea or PoltroneSofà, Croce or De Sanctis, Lego or Meccano, Bambi or Ninja, Rome or Lazio, Timeo or Nicomachean Aesthetics, illusion or reality, appearance or substance , Freud or Jung, Pirandello or Strindberg, Covid mask yes or no, to be or to have, highway or provincial, ravioli chard or spinach, painting or photography. Here, photography! Stop. Once the versus delirium is over, let's go back to Giovanni's exhibition. No, one moment (mòviti cà!) Let's go back to the top. Photography: art yes or no? (But gentlemen! Again!). The photographer only a finger ?! “Only one hand” like the Pirandello-born Serafino Gubbio, cinematographer? … Well!
Let's look at the photos? No, the photos look at us. Images that look at us, challenge us. So I wrote about Eliseo Andreoli's painting some time ago (La Spezia, 2018): in the silent subjects of him, the man is absent; absent-present from those shacks, from those disused buildings that he visits on the canvas with his colors. (The implicit memory takes me at this moment from the subjects of Eliseo Carrara to the photo "Garcitella" by Giovanni from Agrigento). But let's go back to the triptych. Disused cellar in GARCITELLA in the center, SALINA Trapani to the left of the viewer and to the remaining right BARCA in Favignana (all, as already mentioned, arbitrarily named by me): and so I am telling what I promised at the beginning. Places that are not silent in themselves: turned, gutted, exhausted, stripped by the wind, by time, by sand, by indifference, by the breath of business. Not only silent in themselves but, rather, because they create in those who observe them (in those who know how to do it) a space of silence (in a world of noises), and therefore lead us to look inside ourselves, abandoning the super- me, maybe even some of our many 'I's. Traces, memories, muffled voices: inside and out. Joust in the complex labyrinth of memory. My 'implicit memory' brings me other images: just mentioned, Eliseo's painting, but many other images are already appearing. My 'explicit memory', on the other hand, brings me words, memories, Campobellese tales narrated by Totò, Lillo and Rino: legends and stories of the places. Known places? Imago of memory? Places of the imagination? Places of phantasy? Or perhaps the 'artificial' memory dear to Cicero?
I can not do without. Giovanni's silent structures make caravans rush to my mind. I have already said of concomitances, not formal but of purpose, with the canvases of Eliseo Andreoli and now I get the painted deconstructions by Luisa Racanelli, the severed torsos of Olga Macaluso! (Try to view them). Rereading a few lines above, "silence" falls: mystical, the silence of Saint Augustine beside the stream; gentle, "The Voice of Silence" by Mina; terrible, the poem "Silencio" by García Lorca assassinated by Francoism in 1936 in Granada, the screams against complicit silence in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the silenced hands and guitar of Victor Jara killed in 1973 by the Chilean dictatorship. And then I think about this, that. Is there a risk of unwelcome Rococo? Techetechetè, dada umpa, tuca-tuca, who knows, but, me, but why. Continuing to write ad libitum makes no sense. Yes he has it.
“When the sun changed the shadows on the mountains and induced to remove the yokes from the tired oxen”. Again greeting Cicero and, soon, also Ceres, I walked. Where is it? In the in diebus illis of the sheet. I walk distracted from human and cosmic existence. "Gradually the fields will turn golden for the supple ears" (lithe yes, Virgil, the ears, but trembling fearing the sharp sickle, timor et tremor). Still walking with physical and mental detachment, abstracting myself perhaps, I leave Campobello on a summer solstice by trazzere and secondary roads, transhuming myself towards the Contrada Principe (or Montalbo?), Trampling (unwillingly but carelessly) daisies, citronella, ants and crackling cucummarieddi. Is this the path to the dilapidated Garcitella farm? Or am I in the midst of hot chalk stones, glistening like held back tears? Above, the Favarotta (where is the ruins of the railway station where the bats live?). Or maybe I'm walking in the fiery stony ocher and I'm already in the Passarello mine? And further on (where?) The baronial villa, "the one with the beautiful grille"? Not far away is a church with the missal echoes of Father Advanced and, 'behind' again - beyond the plain, the melons and artichokes - echoes of okay soldiers from the Licata landing (where is the Bifara?). Prickly pears everywhere. A little mare is furious, despite being a fly, on my heel: pawing and jumping. A peregrine falcon (buzzard?) Looks at me peregrine. Amazement (which with the suffix 'nd' can become wonderful). I am a guest, a foreigner, sought after by the eyes of a lizard happy with the heat and having escaped the Pirandello petra amidst humming and wild fennel and twisted thistles. Other eyes did not see, did not want, perhaps yesterday, the whistling departure of white teenagers who had left the macabre trophy of a canuzzo hanged with wire at an old, rusty, fiery gate. Certainly they weren't the shepherd children in Copenhagen porcelain, nor those of the seventeenth-century "Et in Arcadia ego" painted by Guercino, nor the peasants of the nineteenth-century Neapolitan cribs. I see humming horror in my noon. I walk away. (“Carusi!”. Other grown up Carusi will tell me). Summer is drawing to a close and Proserpina is preparing to return to the mundus patet ... - "Silvio! You go back to the exhibition! ”. I never got out of that epicenter. Those photos, even if fixed to the wall, looking at them are self-propelled and this excites me. That is fine. Perhaps exaggerated but not manic. Otherwise a little above instead of the cucummarieddu vernacular I would have written (thanks Totò) ecballium elaterium (donkey watermelon); or the prickly pears, I would have said that they are relatives of the Mexican nopals on which the flag eagle rested; or, at the beginning of this writing, called into question Anaxagoras, I would have specified that "After Chaos came the intellect and put order" was the title of a theatrical show I made in Rome together with Alida Giardina; or, further on, I would have further clarified that the Ephebe perhaps drunk, in profile in the Guttusian label of the Libecchio Bianco by Baron of Turolifi is the bronze of Selinunte and not the marble of Mozia. Hello. Coffee break.
("It can only be seen with the heart", so said the Little Prince). The SALINA-GARCITELLA-BARCA triptych, arbitrary nomenclatures (ibidem):
«Salina», without people without work without wages.
«Garcitella», disused cellar. Maxi pieces of steel Gig robots, fallen silos without must or wine, abandoned cellars from Dionysus.
Broken "boat". Carcass dissected without rhythmic echoes of the ax master. (Insert: Tucumán; cattle; adolescent memory; hundreds of carcasses, bones calcined by drought and the sun.).
Triptych of the de-solation. Beauty? Aesthetics of pain. Street! Go away Sol invictus! Come pale moon, come night! Gallop on your gloomy mare scattering purple-black spikes because I don't want to see thought and feeling flee! Man, sucked into the magma of negativity, in this thearum mundi, has lost, lost, the power to believe, to remember. Atahualpa: “los hombres son dioses muertos de un templo ya derrumbado”. Giovanni: these photos of yours go beyond the contingent time. Images not only of knowledge of the world, of things, of history, but also of us involved spectators. To these simulacra today of themselves, obsolete objects forgotten in the bric-à-brac of the world, you have given what Landolfo uselessly demanded for his "puppets": the content. The narrator will not fail to emphasize "Bravo Giovanni!".
I met Giovanni Rizzo in 2019 at the Liberty Quadro, and found a boy again (as a child he drew with me - what occasion? - a horse: album and scent of pencils). Silvia Lotti in the same room, in that October Campobellese, was to mount her exhibition "Stories to watch". Therefore dismantle the previous exhibition. It was that of Giovanni Rizzo. Sixteen beautiful photos. Shots of Cuba. Frontal urban shots, deliberately two-dimensional, terse and very clean, not striking, full of a curious apparent shy emotional detachment, like that of people who are always far away inserted in the context. Not portraits. Disassembling them was sorry. Dura lex sed lex. Beppe introduces us: Giovanni. Pleasure. Pleasure. Sorry to disassemble. No, imagine. Let's talk about you. Silvia. Silvio, yes I know. We assemble by calculating the same pegs (we don't like the wobbly golden chains) so as not to hurt the wall (we will dismantle Silvia's works in January 2020 on the occasion of my tribute to Lillo Guarneri and then leave for Rome). Coffee. Coffee. Yes, stained. Giovanni, very discreet but satisfied, shows us, transported in his mobile phone, three panoramic shots: a half boat in Favignana, a disused cellar in Garcitella, the abandoned salt pan of Trapani.
First of all Giovanni thought of tearing apart the enlargements. To emphasize sadness, perhaps anger. I do not know. He doesn't talk much (that's okay). He thought. Rome-Campobello. Giovanni, do you cut them surgically or don't you cut them? Or do you just tear off the jelly leaving the support visible? Straight or transverse tear? I don't know… I'm waiting for the enlargements from Catania, he says. I salute you, I salute you. Giovà, do you cut? Ninth. Definitive? Yes, yes. Bye Bye.
Giovanni, I will send you by mail, not short-manu. For now, there is Covid.
N.B .: thanks for your photos, Giovanni.
Silvio Benedicto Benedetto, Rome 2020, consumed the light of September with a window open on the Lungotevere and a warm breeze.
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