Fabrizio Plessi

3 Feb — 18 Mar 2017 at Beck & Eggeling in Dusseldorf, Germany

28 JANUARY 2017
Fabrizio Plessi, Sketch for the exhibition Memoria dell’acqua at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Dusseldorf, 2017
Fabrizio Plessi, Sketch for the exhibition Memoria dell’acqua at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Dusseldorf, 2017

Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art is presenting the work of the international pioneer of video art, Fabrizio Plessi, for the first time at the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend 2017 in two exhibitions. Both exhibitions focus on the natural element of water that is the central theme of his artistic work.

The exhibition Utopia Liquida, with selected photographs from the 1970s, gives insight into Plessi's early creative phase in which he already began to develop water as the main theme of his art. In numerous interventions, that at the time were cutting edge happenings and conceptual art, his fascination for the ancient element became a source of inspiration. It originated from the omnipresence of the water in his chosen home Venice. The photographs show document and reflect his artistic happenings; some of them were already shown at the Venice Biennale in 1978. These include Plessi cutting apart running water in a sink into a hundred equal parts with a pair of scissors (100 Pezzi D'Acqua, Azione 1973), in Paris he tried to put a hole in the Seine River (Un Buco N'ell Acqua, Azione 1973) and when he sawed the Stichter Lake by Neuenkirchen into equal halves (Segare Il Lago Stichter in due parti uguali, Azione 1975). In these absurd actions water is treated less like a natural element and more like a full-fledged aspect design element for the implementation of his imaginative ideas.

In the rooms across the way, the exhibition Memoria dell'acqua presents the Under Water video installation that Fabrizio Plessi produced in 2016 for the pavilion of Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice. Video has been his central medium since the mid 70s. Over the past 40 years, Plessi has produced more than 120 video sculptures and expansive video installations with water, combining natural materials such as wood, earth, and iron with the latest technology to create tension in the combinations that are characteristic of his works.

The video installation Under Water is impressive with its minimalistic production. Large screens display glowing fragments of a splendid gold and black Byzantine floor mosaic that move in wavelike motion and are accompanied by a sound composition arranged by the British composer Michael Nyman. The mosaic is the symbol of the East and references the history of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi which was the central trading place between Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean in the Middle Ages. Under water, the mosaic fragments are constantly changing and shifting under the movements of the flowing natural element, which for Plessi is a symbol of temporality and a metaphor for memory. The past, time, and the awareness of history are poetically brought to light in a constantly changing world. The connections between the mosaic, water and music in a room, create a total composition and an extraordinary sensory experience that sends the viewer on journeys through space and time. The simple, geometric layout of the exhibition space underscores the clear language of the video installation, which in its reduced form is reminiscent of Minimal Art and Arte Povera.

Fabrizio Plessi (born 1940 in Reggio Emilia, Italy) lives and works in Venice. Plessi has been repeatedly invited to the Venice Biennale. In 1970, he first took part in the Venice Biennale and in 1987, he also presented his monumental installation Roma at the Documenta 8. Over the last 40 years, he has created outstanding work that has been shown worldwide in important museums and institutions. Since 1977 these include, among others, the Guggenheim Museum SoHo in New York, the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Fondazione Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, Folkwang Museum in Essen, Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao, Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Fondazione Mudima in Milan, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen in Recklinghausen, and Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice. Additionally, Fabrizio Plessi designed stage designs for the operas The Fall of Icarus (1989) and Ex Machina (1994), a concert by Luciano Pavarotti in New York's Central Park, and Mauro Bigonzetti's ballet Romeo and Juliet.