text: Gabriella Del Duca
translation: Nella Maccarone
The metal scraps that fell off the grabbers or slid down the ramp of the trailer must have struggled fiercely before resting in one of the many industrial landfills where they caught the eye of Paola Moro. An eye that is not judgemental, that is able to figure out a new life for them, like when we fantasize about the outline of a cloud or the pattern of a crack. Wandering around a landfill can help if you want to complete a task, to retrieve the thread of a story left unfinished, to reset its plot according to the strict laws of its origins. You can discover that the unfit, the useless, the unusable, the came-out-wrong can reveal an unintended aesthetic vocation in the way they are casually heaped up among the other wretches of the hellish circle of industrial waste. An opportunity to be readmitted into the world is possible if someone’s creativity and care are put into play - to soften what is hard, for instance, like does the timid yet bold little cotton chain tied to the iron washer, to frustrate any attempts at pretentiousness ”It‘s my testimony” says Paola, “the legacy of work well done, of enterprising spirit, of dedication and care. And so in her home workshop she cleaned up the pieces - just a little, she says - and with the help of a welding machine and the intelligence of her hands she developed the initial pattern, the implicit wish, so to speak, adding up elements, carrying out the intentions of a gesture already implied in the shape, humanizing an impulse. She connected her creatures to one another or lined them up in small squads ready for a parade. They all rise on their little stands.
There, in their two-dimensionality, the objects acquire clarity and sheen, become more abstract, show themselves at the start of a parade, volunteer for the making of fantastically woven tapestries, or of sea creatures fluctuating around a circle, or explosions of fireworks. They become sophisticated pictures for covers of books still to be written or for books that one can write inspired by the never-ending stories of the living.
And now the dishes of an imaginary family service enter the scene. No longer necessary at table, but like Renaissance tondos they offer whiteness and shine to little creatures in intimate communication - a dialogue made of colour and of the imagination of a mise en scéne. With even more variety and liberty, small groups strike a pose, each with their own personality. A question mark swings - restlessness within a frame. Little women in a parade show their profile with a static Egyptian posture. A refined embroidery of patterns fills the saucers, now upgraded from their domestic tasks and no longer recognizable.
Some other creatures appear by surprise from backstage to put on their own truth. The desire for a revelation that can untangle the knots of a lifetime, the wish to be at the centre of the scene and get all the due attention are something everybody can relate to. There is an aura of mystery in the light strip stretching from the side of a stage. The same light dramatizes the size of the shapes like in an expressionist painting, adding preciousness to the surfaces. We are waiting to hear the confession of these little golden studs, the solos of these individuals in a dramatic pose, or the nocturnal dialogues of a trio born overnight. Then the light strip narrows, the theatre door closes.
In the dim light of the exhibition the objects, liberated from their original functions, send their prophecy to a world that is too busy. The many variations with which each is allowed to expand its uniqueness evoke faraway horizons, bring forth a universal education available to all. In the array of characters or in a sort of foreshadowed impulse to dance we can recognise an allusion to some personal opportunity. The set generates a rhythm, if we just look from the round to the pointed shapes, from the smooth to the rough surfaces, from the frozen saplings to the dangling minnows, from the delicate movements of a washer to the peremptory gesture of a spear. Small choreographies or fearful squads of Samnite warriors regain their strength in the company of the essential frame of Manhattan-style skyscrapers. The provocation is soft, never irreverent as with the Surrealists and the Dadaists. Someone is in the background, perhaps to make sure her creatures keep their position and behave themselves in this performance of redemption and transfiguration, perfect in the dim light of the ancient convent.
The allusions are in the creative vision of the person we spot behind the see- through glass where she places the various shapes like musical notes. An imaginary instrument makes a three-element object renew itself repeatedly at the sound of a rhythm. In every picture the combination is different, there is no progress, only a change that is essential, playful, that bodes well. Little scenes from a workshop. Shining pipes, spiral towers with saplings by their side, bushes or sickle moons trying to distract the mechanisms from the hard task they were made for, maybe a warning. Nature and culture. Nostalgia for a village workshop.
The mallet workshop is the place where the dream of an enterprise took concrete shape. The porous, crumbled walls absorbed and possibly still retain the flood of voices, of orders, of energy coming from the grandfather, the uncles, the cousins, the young boys, all intent on realizing that dream, in between short innocent breaks when the adults played cards with the priest at weekends. A religion of work and of life. “It’s here that I learned how to live” an old workman says to Paola on opening the workshop door. In no way intimidated by such a legacy, metal blossoms stand on the pallets, impertinent figurines are crammed on the canteen table where the workers used to eat. Paola’s creatures are recognized by the forge and the mallet because they have the same rusty skin. The kinship is declared. We can imagine them as little kids that strike a pose after entering the world of adults dressed in scraps. A pause is mandatory, maybe a smile. Exit Paola.