FABIO MAURI

Rome, 1926



February 3, 2021 - March 13, 2021

In this upcoming exhibition, Galleria Michela Rizzo questions the concept of ‘value’ and its many aspects, such as the market, economy, power, time, and currency. Money Money Money, curated by Elena Forin, is conceived to offer a reflection on this crucial topic through different points of analysis, highlighting themes that can be useful in this investigation: from the stage of economic and political power; to the imaginaries related to money; the visual presence of art; and its conceptual and market forms. The exhibition sets up a journey where artists from different generations with different approaches, languages, and interests explore the wide concepts of money and value.

Antoni Muntadas’ The Bank (1997), part of the On Translation cycle, ponders how quickly a certain sum of money can vanish through a progressive system of currency exchanges. Moreover, his reinterpretation of the European flag includes coins inside the twelve yellow stars to emphasise the purely economic and political nature of the European Community.

The implosion of the financial market and the consequential bankruptcy at the beginning of the new millennium are narrated by Nanni Balestrini: fragments of Giorgione's The Tempest (1502-1503) are mixed with ripped dollars and random letters, becoming traces of the remains of a humanity unable to decipher, re-elaborate and withstand the impact of its own actions.

Andrea Mastrovito through his reinterpretation of a classic horror movie modified frame by frame, Nysferatu (2018), questions the dangerous short circuit in the US society caused by the implementation of aggressive economic policies. Through the installations Bar C33 (2015) and Il critico come artista (2016) he criticises the precariousness of the present, where even the educational sphere relies on money.
In the series West (2014-2022), Francesco Jodice creates an "observation deck on the last great Western empire”, in which American history — from the great gold rush to the 2008 financial collapse — is rendered through images that document both the geological majesty of Western America and its current contradictions; ranging between militarisation and nuclearisation campaigns, technological development and the Hollywood dream. The five exhibited works invite us to take a journey to the end of the heroic saga of liberalism.

Ryts Monet isolates and re-elaborates the natural elements, like plants and flowers, and architectural elements printed on banknotes, which visually amplify the paradoxes on how countries choose to represent themselves through currencies. These works show on one hand the strive for a monumentalisation of the international image through money, and, on the other, the short circuit created by the recurring presence of natural specificities.

Aldo Runfola questions the genesis the artworks through money, which assume the task of tracking the artist’s movements: after throwing coins on the canvas, he follows the marks left by that gesture, creating the composition though the links between the given points.

The art market is not overlooked in the exhibition: Fabio Mauri’s Serie Sociale (1974-1975), consisting of fifty monochrome sheets of different colours, challenges the concept of the value of an artwork, as their prices double up day by day, reaching astronomical figures by the end of the exhibition. Lucio Pozzi, through his Red Planets, works on the ideas of presence, emptiness, and distance, increasing the price of the remaining painted boards each time one is sold. The commercial aspect shows its limits in quantifying the true value of art: both of the artists decide to increase the prices based on a purely arbitrary decision, as the two works are composed by almost identical pieces.

Cesare Pietroiusti’s Mangiare denaro - un’asta/Eating Money - an Auction, and, more in general, his Paradoxycal Economies series, focuses on the theme of exchange. This performance - conceived and performed with Paul Griffiths and held in 2005 at Viafarini, Milan - staged an auction where the public was allowed to offer an amount equal to the sum of two banknotes: the performers swallowed the highest bid and promised to return the money to the winner after evacuated, together with a certificate. From a simple transaction medium, money became a crucial part of the artistic process, as the action coincided with its economic dimension.

Therefore, Money Money Money tries to shed lights on those dynamics that are often latent or hidden behind the surface of banknotes and coins, developing an itinerary through artworks that call for a reconsideration of the concept of ‘value’.

A special thanks goes to Simone Frittelli.

Fabio Mauri is one of the most prominent voices of the Italian avant garde of the post war period. He lived between Bologna and Milan until 1957, when he moved to Rome. In 1942, he started the magazine Il Setaccio [The Sieve] with his friend Pier Paolo Pasolini. He taught Aesthetics of experimentation at the Academy of Fine Arts of L’Aquila for 20 years. He was invited to the Venice Biennale in 1954, 1974, 1978, 1993, 2003, 2013 and 2015, and to dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel in 2012.

Mauri’s first solo show at the Galleria L’Aureliana (Rome, 1955) was opened by his friend Pasolini. In late ’57, he drew his first “Schermi” [Screens], his version of the monochrome: the desire to find the absolute zero of painting that was engaging all the prominent artists of the time. In Mauri’s monochrome, however it is already possible to find his reflection on the cinema: the screen was the new true “symbolic form” of the world, and Mauri was able to grasp this immediately, all at once. The mental form of the screen will run through all of Mauri’s work. In 1964 he started reflecting on the specificity of the European culture, which he found in ideology. “I looked back over my life and realised that I had witnessed an important historical event: the war. I had repressed all that pain as if it were a horrible accident, and then I re-lived it”, the artist said. This is the time when he started composing his performances of the ‘70s: Che cosa è il fascismo [What fascism is], Ebrea [Jewess], Gran Serata Futurista 1909 – 1939 [A Futurist Grand Soirée 1909 - 1939]. Fiction is another way to bond with the spectators, to create a network of sensations between the action and the audience. From the painting to action, the step is unavoidable. The idea overflows from the borders of the canvas through the acts of a not-yet-digested, eternally-unbearable past. The performances of 1971, Ebrea [Jewess] and Che cosa è il fascismo [What fascism is] are therefore emblematic of this phase. The latter was first composed in Rome and it then arrived in Venice (1974), New York (1979), Prato (1993) and Klagenfurt (1997). The first retrospective of his work was held in 1994 at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Rome), followed by a second at the Kunsthalle in Klagenfurt (1997) and a third at Le Fresnoy (Lille, 2003).

In 1968, together with Balestrini, Sanguineti, Eco, Porta, Barilli, Filippini, Arbasino, Colombo, Manganelli, Giuliani, Costa, Celli, Guglielmi, Pagliarani, Mauri is one of the founders of the magazine “Quindici” [Fifteen]. In the ‘70s, Mauri’s work focused on ideology as subject/object of the expressive acts. The text of the performance Che cosa è il fascismo [What fascism is] (1971, Edizioni Krachmalnicoff), is a critical-ideological analysis of languages, which is followed by the books Linguaggio è guerra [Language is war] (1975, Marani Editore) and Manipolazione di cultura [Manipulation of culture] (1976, La Nuova Foglio). In the same year, Mauri started the art magazine “La Città di Riga” [The City of Riga] with Alberto Boatto, Maurizio Calvesi, Jannis Kounellis, Umberto Silva. Fabio Mauri weaves together the dimension of the performance and the space of history. The use of the body as screen in Il Vangelo di/su Pier Paolo Pasolini [The Gospel according to/on Pier Paolo Pasolini] at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Bologna) is unforgettable. And Che cosa è il fascismo [What fascism is] is even more central: an extraordinary performance presented at the Stabilimenti Safa Palatino (Rome 1971), at a time of serious political tension.

Several important themes can be found in Mauri’s work, all shaped into his works of art: the Screen, the Prototypes, the Projections, the Photography as Painting, the substantial Identity of Expressive Structures, the lasting relationship between Thought and World and between Thought as World. Mauri’s work, as complex as an history essay, becomes his autobiography, compact and uniform in its development and multifaceted in the attention to the contemporary world: an analysis where the fate of the individual and history co-exist.

In 2009 he was made Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Italian Republic. On the 20th of May of the same year, after receiving the news of Fabio Mauri’s passing, Napolitano expressed his condolences to the family with a message in which he stated that “Fabio Mauri’s intense activity of artistic creation, committed to the never-ending quest for and openness to the new, and his engagement in the promotion of culture (…) made him one of the most prominent voices of the Italian artistic and cultural scene”.