The peculiar nature of the modern state, with its complex and delicate functions, and the gravity of the political, economic, and social problems which it is called upon to solve, make it the barometric index of the people’s hopes and fears, which increases the obstacles that stand in the way of its defense.
It is not in human nature to live free in freedom … but to live free while imprisoned.
—Curzio Malaparte, Tecnica del colpo di Stato, 1931
Marie Cool Fabio Balducci’s Untitled (2010) is composed of a group of round mirrors placed at various angles in a space. Depending on the natural or artificial lighting conditions of the exhibition situation, the work projects circular patterns of light across the surroundings to modify the site. The work also expands on the one-to-one dynamic common to action performance—the initiated informing the uninitiated. In the first movement, an invited action agent is supplied with a white sheet of A4 paper. They then “remove” one of the luminous circles of light seen projected on the wall, fixing it to the center of their paper, to carry it with them. This gesture shows the reflecting mechanism at work. In the second movement, just the body of the agent interacts with the light, and so the circle of light returns to the wall. These two actions are then repeated. Such interventions echo the artists’ more general concerns of testing the time of the exhibition, in which physical activity may occur in the visitor’s absence or prior to their arrival or just after they have left.
Marie Cool, born in 1961 in Valenciennes, France, and Fabio Balducci, born in 1964 in Ostra, Ancona, a province in Italy, live and work in Paris. Since 1995, they have been producing actions on everyday objects and materials as a response to, and in critical relationship with, the Arte Povera movement; invested in the work conditions of the industrial and technical era, the artists choose to work with ordinary objects or materials easily accessible to consumers. Their use of gesture is usually associated with simple acts and repetition that imprints art with a common, ubiquitous language. Furthermore, through deploying exercises of perception to question certain normative conduct, postures, and values—in particular temporality—this artist duo reviews, modifies, and extends the framework of institutional spaces.