Franca Marini Urban Lines

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Esther Biancotti

presentation text of the exhibition franca marini urban lines, Palazzo San Galgano, Siena 2009
SanGalganoSquare, contemporary art exhibition series curated by Massimo Bignardi

Franca Marini is an artist who, after years of living overseas has come back to exhibit in her home town with the work Urban Lines, a sculpture installed in the cloister of the Palazzo di San Galgano and a video to be screened in the University Screening Room. Both works were born of a reflection on the city of New York which the artist develops with two different languages, that of plastic representation and that of image in movement. Two works which experience moments of contact, interacting through a series of formal and conceptual references, but always retaining their own artistic autonomy. The city becomes the horizon and the “field of existence” of artistic endeavor, but at the same time, the opportunity to explore an intimate setting which defines a new relationship with social and collective reality. These works are consistent with Marini's artistic research while moving away from its traditional modus operandi, which has always been faithful to the two-dimensional surface, the painting technique investigated in every respect, calling to mind Action Painting and the American muralists but also the New British Sculpture of the eighties and nineties.
The sculpture Urban Lines is a work which offers a wide variety of viewpoints, of perspectives, it invites the eye to gaze through it, a space to be crossed, a web of brilliant threads that creates a further element of dialogue with the exhibition space, no longer rigid and constricting but dynamic, never unambiguous, subject to multiple interpretations and the fundamental stimulus in the creation of the artwork. The forms radiate freely in space, like the roots of a post-industrial world re-emerging from its ruins, and dictate the development of the sculptural composition: forms which are light, suspended, almost Calderian, returning to base after reaching different planes, a movement that grows denser from the fringes toward the center and then away again in a continuous motion.
The choice of materials used for the construction of the sculpture is a logical consequence: industrial materials that speak of the city, on which the artist intervenes with cuts, lacerations, burns and spray can writing, simple materials, brought to life by an ardent manual skill, by a desire to experiment and break through rigid mental barriers. The uneven skein, perceived through the plastic form of the sculpture, evokes urban reality as a tangle of randomly intertwined social relations.
The same social reality is the starting point for the creation of the Urban Lines video. Fleeting images, fast-moving, frantic, almost enrapt, alternate with computer processed images, renderings of previous works, where intersecting lines and geometrical compositions are superimposed on the branched spacial structure of the sculpture, creating moments of strong emotional intensity. The abundant but absolutely deliberate use of 'video masks' expresses well the sense of emptiness and depersonalization that characterizes the city dweller of any great metropolis: a vacuum resulting from the juxtaposition of planes that intertwine and separate figures, overlapping shadows that blur and lose themselves in one another.
The confused street noises enrich the musical score specially composed for the video by Gianpaolo Cappelli & Car_Ma (Carlo Torrini and Maso Ricci). The music follows the sometimes intense, sometimes softer rhythm of the images, from the broken architectural skyline and avenues of New York, animated by the frenetic movement of a multiracial crowd to the quiet of the Tuscan countryside; a slow progression of sound emphasizes the conclusion of the video with its panning shot of Rome, wrapped in a warm and human atmosphere, filtered by a disillusioned eye.
Three different urban realities, all an integral part of the background of the artist, which starting from the dimension of the journey, become a metaphor for the collective dynamics in which the individual rediscovers, in universal experience, the intimate certainty of his own existence.