Sensor. Time for Young Approaches
Exhibition view Sensor 05
Leonida De Filippi und Stefan Cagol
25.07.2012 – 14.10.2012

The fifth part of the exhibition series »Sensor. Time for Young Approaches« presents works by Stefano Cagol and Leonida De Filippi from the VAF Foundation Collection.

The point of departure for Leonida De Filippi’s paintings (*1969, Milan) is international socio-political events. Since the 1990s, his works testify to the artist’s endeavor to assimilate and come to terms with war scenes in Iraq, Afghanistan and, more recently, the events of the Arab Spring, for which he has recourse to media sources. As already suggested by the title of his works, in »History« those events are subjected to pictorial analysis that are destined to at some point become part of history. »Keep Shooting« is a sobering narrative on the war that infiltrates our lives through the media. Combat scenes, helicopters, soldiers executing orders are to be seen in his pictures.

At a first glance, Leonida De Filippi’s works appear like photographs and initially prompt visual irritation within the viewer. Indeed, this involves images in the classical medium of painting. De Filippi begins by enlarging his pictorial template with the aid of reproduction techniques such that he receives a very course resolution of the picture either in pixels, dot matrix or horizontal lines, which he then transfers to his paintings. Half-tones are excluded already at this stage of the process where a stronger contrast, graphic precision and visual tension is achieved. Through this process, semi-abstract pictures begin to emerge. At the same time, De Filippi exposes missing pixels and lines and thus points to the picture’s blank spaces – to a loss of information, which is already present in the pictorial template, but that would otherwise go unnoticed.

By transferring photographs or television images to painting, and thereby, as a rule, making visible concealed medial traces, De Filippi facilitates reflection on these media which, in spite of the knowledge of their manipulability, never lost their documentary character and their validity. By crossing two medias, the artist presents for discussion the genres of photography and painting which continue to be considered authentic and, in doing so, also the real as such. The pictures thus generate a surreal impression of the blending of the real and the virtual.

In the video installation »Vampa«,by Stefano Cagol (*1969, Trient), the viewer encounters the same sense of irritation. The artist takes the North American flag as the basis of his work. Hardly any other national symbol in the Western World is as ubiquitous and linked to such different meanings. For the one, the flag continues to represent the American dream of freedom, democracy and the struggle against fundamentalist terror, while for the other it signifies the acts of belligerence and capitalist imperialism over recent decades.

In his video, Cagol mirrors the virtually manipulated image of the waving flag, which thus assumes ever new iconic, occasionally anthropomorphic forms. Associations with vampires, masks, flowers, bats, emblems, and fighter jets are evoked. Here, as in the Rorschach test, imagination and mind-games take the place of the unswerving belief in state symbology. Cagol thus demonstrates the way in which, in a different context, a symbol of freedom may otherwise stand for violence and war. He also pursues this ambiguity of signs in the play on the word »Vampa«, which means flame and is reminiscent of vampire, and vamp, which alludes to the transformation of signs and images. It is no mere coincidence that the title one of the first versions of the video is »Lies«.

The exhibition series »Sensor. Time for Young Approaches« shows works at short intervals by young artists from collections cooperating with the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art.

Organization / Institution
ZKM | Museum für neue Kunst