Alberta Pane Gallery is pleased to present Ad libitum, the second solo exhibition by Italian artist Michele Spanghero in its Parisian space. The title of the exhibition refers to the name of the sound sculpture Ad lib. that is an abbreviation of the Latin expression Ad libitum, which generally refers to the personal freedom to act according to its own judgment in a given context.
The exhibition presents a sound sculpture composed of an artifcial respirator and of organ pipes that play a musical chord, creating an organ that is in a metaphorical way, a mechanical requiem that plays incessantly. The sculpture aims to make reference to the situation of people, who sufer from serious health problems and who see their survival linked to a respirator, thus questioning the limits that men delegate to technology. The sculpture is surrounded by a set of preparatory drawings and the exhibition is accompanied by a critical text by Dominique Moulon.
Michele Spanghero is a multidisciplinary artist, who graduated in modern literature with a specialization in dramaturgy. As a musician, he practices electronic and experimental music. In his artistic approach, his preferred mediums are sound installations linked to acoustic principles, sculpture, and photography. Known for his sound-emiting sculptures and for presenting the result of sound recordings of empty spaces, the artist is ofen associated with Sound Art. In his practice we fnd a strong conceptual and semantic link between sound, space, and emptiness,, which materializes in his (sound) sculptures. Moreover, his work displays connections between space, white and architectural elements, from which the artist extrapolates almost ideal and minimalist forms that allow him to create images that evoke drawing and abstract painting.
His works have been presented in museums, institutions, galleries, festivals, and fairs. Among his recent projects we can mention his participation in the Némo Digital Art Biennial in Paris and in the Eufónic Festival at the Castle of Ulldecona in Spain in 2019; the presentation of Dià, a sound sculpture created in 2016 for the Walking Art project and shown at the Jardin des Tuileries as part of the FIAC Hors les murs in 2018; his participation in the Artissima sound section in Turin for the Tuned Volume exhibition and in the Future Humanity exhibition as part of the Ars Electronica festival in Beijing in 2018. He received the mention "Best Young Italian Artist 2016" according to Artribune magazine and was a fnalist in 2020 for the PowSOLO Awards, with his sculpture Ad lib. in the category "Best Soundart".
As the average lifespan gets longer, the end concerns us more than ever. With, on the one hand, the States that legislate on the end of life, and on the other hand, the spokesmen of transhumanist thought promising us eternity. We are dealing here with one of the greatest taboo of humanity: death. Or how to ofer it to those who ardently await it when we conceive, at last, the possibility of eradicating it. But at what price? Scientists are in the habit of stirring up the world of ideas, like Michele Spanghero, and it is up to artists to give shape to this societal problem. In 2010, it was in such a context that Spanghero had the intuition of a work that he hastened to document in his sketchbook, as if not to lose it. His idea, unexpected to say the least, was to feed an assembly of organ pipes with an artifcial respirator. Since the organ is as essential to sacred music as the respirator is in a hospital environment, two points of view on eternity coexist in the creation of the frst sound installation Ad lib. of 2013. Since then, the Italian artist has created other versions, as do engineers and other luthiers.
Ad lib. refers to the Latin expression Ad libitum, which means “at the discretion” or “at-will”. It’s also a note that composers add to their scores to allow performers to repeat musical phrases as many times as they wish. What is at stake here is the decision to continue or to interrupt, as in ethical debates considering what is called "Futile medical care". The forms of Michele Spanghero's sound sculptures are just as harmonious as the notes they simultaneously repeat until the audience is fully satisfed. The diferent versions of Ad lib. also have in common to be rhythmed on human breathing. Inexorably, they end up dragging us into a common breath. Spectators of such a wind sculpture tune their breathing into the unconscious experience they collectively make of what is also an instrument. By slowing down our biological rhythms somewhat, this sculpture-instrument at the crossroads of the visual and performing arts literally soothes us to the point of reassuring us.
If there is a time when we collectively need to be soothed, reassured, it is indeed the time of this pandemic that afects us all in various ways. And we remember that in the spring of 2020, many companies temporarily interrupted their usual production to design the artifcial respirators that were sorely lacking in the intensive care units of our hospitals. Suddenly, the life support device crystallized our visceral atachment to life. Our individual or collective experience of Ad lib. is reinforced today, in this new world that is emerging. The sculpture-instrument with the unique score that revealed itself to the Italian artist long before this pandemic is today even more contemporary. Yesterday we frst observed organ pipes whose sounds convoke the sacred, today we focus on the artifcial respirators that have preserved so many lives. When, from such an assemblage in the sphere of art - of which we know more than ever how essential it is to us - a breath of eternity which projects us far beyond the political debates and health crises shaking our society, emerges.