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massimo bartolini
massimo bartolini interview
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The dark arts.

A disused warehouse in Birmingham plays host to Massimo Bartolini's spatial interventions, which are created for the "individual" viewer's experience. Yet, unlike other pieces which have been restricted by one entry at a time, you have free reign over the work that aims to disturb your perceptions. Recurring elements of spheres, water, movement, the walnut and sound are present in the three pieces at Ikon Eastside. Combining nature and mechanics, Bartolini creates an anomalous confrontation.

Set within the far space, Sphere catches your eye and ear. A game of boules is underway with a French radio station's commentary in the background to spur you on. However, the dynamics of the game have been tampered with as we are inside and an incongruous walnut has replaced the "cochon". The walnut's capricious surface generates an undeterminable game, as you are encouraged to appreciate the moment of throwing a shiny brass ball to its unknown fate.

Sala para uma onda is Portuguese for "room with a wave", and Bartolini supplies exactly that inside a shipping container. Viewed from one end through a glass wall, illuminated by a spherical light, water rhythmically sways back and forth like waves gaining strength and vigour over a fixed period of time. Bartolini has made the experience for the viewer restrictive yet overwhelming via a deceptively generated occurrence.

In the darkened back room, jazz musician Thelonious Monk is encased as an orbiting projection, whirling like a Dervish, in Triple Loop. From a central projector old footage of his spinning torso rapidly glides around the space. The vision of Monk gyrating and flashing over the brick walls creates the sensation of dizziness and motion without you moving a muscle.

"Performative sculptures" probably best describes Bartolini's work, for his interactive consideration of the viewer is paramount. With an air of contemplation, the works hint at a quasi-philosophical element. These aberrant encasements concurrently distance and draw you in, creating a visual and psychological quandary.

Freire Barnes 02 August 07
Massimo Bartolini - Triple Loop is at Ikon Eastside, Birmingham, until 26 August 07.
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