I know: you aren’t dedicated two pages in a newspaper every day… Especially when they refer to art and culture. However, this happened to me. L’Eco di Bergamo – the most popular local newspaper in Italy – wrote about my “Lacer/actions” artworks dedicating me two full pages. The article is signed by Diego Colombo, who has interviewed me and has brilliantly reported and described the aspects of my art. I’m re-proposing some passages of the long and detailed article, thanking Diego Colombo and L’Eco di Bergamo for the attention they gave me. The entire article can be read on L’Eco di Bergamo, on October 26, 2011.
ALBORGHETTI ‘S POP ART IN NEW YORK
by Diego Colombo
The “torn city.” This is the subject of photographs by the journalist Roberto Alborghetti from Bergamo (Italy), a research work on torn posters, advertising papers, in different countries of the world. He explains: “It’s hard to imagine that behind torn and faded messages there is “something else” to see or discover. In spite of this, these images keep being a mirror of the talking city. These are the post-communicating traces of a product, an event, a show, an idea, new visual elements, often contrasting, discordant but always surprisingly vital”.
Chris Barlow, British art historians, has hosted Alborghetti in an exhibition in London, organized in October. He was invited to be part of the Memorial & Museum in New York, with his work on Nine Eleven… “I’ve always been fascinated by the world of communication – explains Alborghetti – and once I cared a survey “The eye and the media”, in the weekly magazine “La nostra Domenica”, which often dealt with advertising including that of billboards on the streets. And the director, Lino Lazzari, encouraged me to go on with photographs, putting near my language the innovations of pop art. This year he wrote me a beautiful review which I translated into English and placed on the net”. Lazzari wrote: “The matter used to create a work of art and to convey positive messages of humanity isn’t as important as the ability of using “tears” of colored paper to exalt the characteristics of a striking, persuasive, compelling reality”.
“I photograph a waste as the torn poster waiting to be covered by other posters – adds Alborghetti – or remains as a waste, especially in poor neighborhoods where I usually find the best images”. “In Tunis, three years ago, I took photographs in an Arab market – remembers Alborghetti – where I saw beautiful matches on the blue walls of buildings… The most beautiful matches are those in which paper remains stuck for months and undergoes a process of osmosis with the environment. With rain, sun, smog, paper always changes, it pulls itself, it’s stiff. The most unusual aspects can be discovered when rainwater mixes everything, leaving incredible traces, and it’s important to seize the right moment, because it isn’t always easy…”
“During the last fifteen years – continues Alborghetti – I coordinated several projects about the use of means of mass communication and the reading of image, including workshops with students and teachers on advertising messages. There, I discovered that advertising has a “post” value, that is to say even after being a moment of communication. To tell the truth, the artist Mimmo Rotella took inspiration from torn posters of the fifties. And others like him, for example the French artist Jacques Villeglé: the capability of the billboard of enchanting isn’t something new. But I have considered a different aspect: the suggestion of colors that casually remain when the bill-sticker tears. In the meantime, studying contemporary art, I was seduced by abstractionism”.
In about seven years, Alborghetti collects a lot of photos, thirty thousand pics. Here comes the surprise: “Showing them to friends or during the workshops with teachers, I was told that my pictures of torn posters were beautiful. They pushed me to locate them, date them, categorize them. I had shots taken around the world, from Italy, from New York and Los Angeles, from all the places where my job as director of specialist journals in the field of teaching and education and coordinator of projects about the use of media takes me”.
The moment of getting known comes soon: “I created about forty videoclips with my images of torn posters, organizing them by color – blue, red, black – and giving meaning to my work. I loaded them on the net: YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, ArtSlant… The first exhibition was in July 2010 at OrioCenter: the Director of the big shoppin center had seen my pictures and he had offered me a space, the square opposite the Milan Bergamo Orio Airport, for an exhibition of thirty works on the theme “Air, water, earth and fire”. In three days, thousands of people have asked for explanations and clarifications. On that occasion newspapers dedicated some articles to the event, including L’Eco di Bergamo and the international web magazine Un mondo d’Italiani…”
“At first I found much derision in Italy. They told me: “You have made a montage”. And then I had to stand, and still today, people’s reactions when I am taking photos on torn posters. “You’re crazy”, “I have to go, give me way…”. In Milan I was also stopped by the police: I was shooting near a police station, considered “a significant military target”. “What are you photographing?”. “I will show you”. They couldn’t believe. Even my friends usually joke: they pretend to be art dealers who invite me to exhibitions”. To tell the truth when we saw the first e mail from Roberto Alborghetti, we thought it to be a trick.
“When I brought my booklet in a gallery in Milan, they watched me as if I was an alien. But abroad I realized that I wasn’t the problem, they were. We have to get out of our narrow-minded, it is isolating us”.
The web gives Alborghetti a strong visibility: he has been receiving since the beginning thousands of contacts on his website “Lacer/actions” on YouTube. “Lacer/actions. I chose this name because my activity consists of reading the tears on posters, mirror of pople’s sorrow” Alborghetti’s name is also present on The Huffington Post, the prestigious American blog for which the President of the United States Obama, also wrote. The article is signed by Srini Pillay, Harvard psychiatrist and researcher in the field of “brain imaging”, author of bestsellers about the Neuroscience; in Italy they translated his best seller “Life Unlocked”, titled “La Calma in Tasca” (Newton Compton publishing company).
Pillay was especially struck by the work of Alborghetti dedicated to Nine Eleven and he wrote a psychological analysis on it: “Art is a form of healing whose effects we can seen in the brain. When it is as beautiful as Roberto Alborghetti, it invites us to revisit the tragedy of terrorism, the horror of the loss and the beauty of our resilience through this mysterious life”.
The London show has been organized by the art historian and gallery owner Chris Barlow: “He saw my pictures on the net, he appreciated them and invited me to go to London for three days at the international “Parallax AF” with three of my works: that dedicated to Nine Eleven, “As running fast water” (Come acqua che corre veloce), “I don’t like to stand still” (Non mi piace stare fermo). “As running fast water” was born in Bergamo, along XXIV Maggio street in a rainy day and now somebody puts it near Monet”.
“I have been contacted by many people who had seen my pictures on the net – Alborghetti says with surprise, but also with pride – : poets, musicians and storytellers. Among these was Srini Pillay, who now is working to an international project about “ States of consciousness”: he sent me a grid of questions centred on the creation of my works. When he received my answers he wrote me: “I am a columnist of The Huffington Post, I will dedicate an article about your work on Nine Eleven”. Taking the story of the origin of this picture as a starting point, he began to write: “Roberto Alborghetti was walking along Vico Street in Milan…”. That’s true: I was there when I saw a board election and I was fascinated by the tears left by a bill-sticker. The colors were similar to those of blood and fire coming down to the gray cement. This year is the tenth anniversary of Nine Eleven and I decided to dedicate this picture to the Fallen in the attack”.
But there’s more. “Two years ago I have produced a clip with colorful images. An American hip-pop musician, Sweet P The Entertainer saw it and wrote to me: “If I give you my music, you will make a clip”. Now he is coming out in America with his first album…” There is a special feeling with the music. “Last year I made a clip with abstract images that made me think of the atmosphere of Christmas; this clip was for an american group that sings a cappella, Tonic Sol-Fa. A few months ago I worked with a Dutch musician, Jap Jap. And an experimental musician from Brighton, Jonteknik, sent me a song and he wrote to me: “Combine it with your pictures, I like them very much”. I worked with the American musical project “Earscapes” by Joshua Sellers, musician, producer and poet from Arkansas, who created a nine minutes video (“Linger”) with my artworks…”
“Who says that this kind of work can be created only by an Italian, mentioning Renaissance, as well as all the culture that we have behind us and inside us, puts me in a crisis. As well as people who puts me near Cy Twombly, Josef Albers, to pop art, who declares that I have shown that in art nothing is created nor destroyed. That’s true: I am not a painter, but a lot of great artists have been inspired by torn posters. I have got proof. I don’t modify the images, I don’t transform them: I immortalize them as I see them. My work is a provocation. Those who see my work for the first time have the illusion that they are paintings. I have to explain that they are not…”
Others apart from artists like Alborghetti’s works. He has been called by a company, the Bulwark Design (Srs Group), from Fiorano Modenese (Modena), in the center of the district of ceramics… And then the meeting with Bruno Boggia, who provides designers with the drawings. Because the success of an article depends on the textile designers. In Como, Boggia works for the most successful international fashion houses. Alborghetti: “He has produced three silk scarves with my pictures, including one dedicated to Nine Eleven (Alborghetti is going to give it to an association of families of the Fallen in the attack) Three prototypes, just to see the effect of the transition from paper to silk”. “But there’s also – he concludes – a religious group which had the idea of taking one of my images as a model for a stained glass window… People see all these references. For me it’s just a game”. But also a provocation to our eyes and our minds.