Pietro Roccasalva at Johnen Galerie

Johnen Galerie, Berlin

April 28, 2010

Pietro Rocassalva
Unicuique suum Fussball

30 April – 5 June 2010

Marienstrasse 10
10117 Berlin


Johnen Galerie Berlin is proud to present a solo exhibition of works by Pietro Roccasalva, titled Unicuique suum Fussball. A performance will take place during Gallery Weekend Berlin.

In his practice, Roccasalva builds upon a specific set of historical, artistic, and philosophical sources, each work referring to the last and the next. Moving the same clues, sources, and settings into different spatial contexts and combinations, his works always generate diverse possible narrations and signifiers. There is not one ineluctable significance to the exhibition. Rather, the signifiers created by the inter-subjectivity of the works and sources point to the impossibility of panoptic omniscience, or even the presence of any linear narrative.

The title of the exhibition refers both to the DADA periodical “Jedermann sein eigener Fussball” and Leonardo Sciascia’s book To Each his Own, which begins with an anonymous death-threat made by cutting “Unicuique Suum” from the headlines of the Vatican newspaper “l’Osservatore Romano.” Roccasalva cut the same phrases from a number of newspapers’ frontpages and pasted one onto each exhibition invitation, stacking the remaining sections of the Vatican newspaper in the work (Unicuique Suum). Paired with a pseudo-scientific illustration of a varano without a tail, trying to stand upright, the work initiates the beginning of the exhibition path.

Truka all-over (The Formula of the Phantom) encompasses the entirety of the main exhibition space. In the middle of the room, part of the gallery’s grey floor has been removed, correlating to the black-and-white still from Roccasalva’s 35 mm film Truka on the wall next to it. The still shows an image of grass –the same grass into which the farmer crashes his hot-air balloon in Tarkovskij’s film Andrej Rublev– having the identical measurements as the grey portion removed from the floor. While the film still acts as backdrop, the missing portion of the floor becomes the platform for a performance in which two people, dressed identically in red beneath a chromium-plated armor, paint each other until both sets of armor are completely red, like lobsters from a 1600′s still-life painting.

The two figures— who can be seen as either a doubled figure or a figure in the mirror—turn their shells inside out, overlapping “inside” and “outside” through this mimetic maquillage.

In the last room the viewer encounters a painting from the cycle II Traviatore, a series of portraits of a waiter serving a lemon-squeezer on a steel tray, a fixture in Roccasalva’s works as the messenger who, having nothing to bring, brings “nothing.” Next is Study for Tableau Vivant (D’Apres Pasolini La Ricotta), the first study of a new series in which Roccasalva aims to create tableaux vivants out of nature morte (still life) –a seeming paradox. In this particular work, a slide projector projects a still-life taken from Pierpaolo Pasolini’s film La Ricotta onto a drawing that is only fully visible in the transitions between each slide. In Roccasalva’s drawing, Pasolini’s still-life is altered so that a basket in the ‘film still’ is transformed into the large basket of a hot-air balloon.

Through this flipping back and forth, the non-linear exposure gives way to an organic logic; each work is a window onto something else, reflecting upon itself in endless infinity.

Pietro Roccasalva was born in 1970 and lives and works in Milan. He has exhibited in the 53. Venice Biennale, at Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Art Statements at Art 39 Basel, Manifesta 7, Seventh Regiment Armory and in P.S.1 MoMA, New York.