For Federico Fusi

Text written for Federico Fusi

4. Matter is plastic in the face of mind.
22. I term the Immortal One a plasmate, because it is a form of energy; it is living information. It replicates itself―not through info rmation or in information―but as information.
23. The plasmate can crossbond with a human, creating what I call a homoplasmate. This annexes the mortal human permanently to the plasmate. We know this as the “birth from above” or “birth from the Spirit.” It was initiated by Christ, but the Empire destroyed all the homoplasmates before they could replicate.

Tractates Cryptica Scriptura, in Philip K. Dick’s Trilogy of Valis.

I have written the following lines in order to, personally, reflect upon and cast a more careful look upon the recent works of Federico Fusi, artist from Siena whose primary practice is sculpture. Reflecting on his sculptural work will be useful not only in terms of better understanding his own poetics, but also in terms of finding elements to penetrate more general ideas and forms regarding what it means to practice sculpture now. A practice which he performs like a dance, light-footedly and elegantly, moved by a synthesis of classical and future sounds.
And it is precisely this sonic synthesis, providing – again for me, personally – the backdrop and the vital dramatic quality of its subjects, which pushes me to imagine that Federico Fusi may have given life to a new genre: science-fictional sculpture. Why science fiction? Because it is the only narrative form able to perfectly conjugate imagination and reason in a way that makes imagination appear as real and reason as illusory. Science fiction is the only historiography able to support an understanding of the world, especially of the world to come. A form of historical and, at the same time, of visual essay-writing which is too often defined as “visionary” (read “reckless”); a form too often defined by its oblique and dream-bound dimension, rather than by the centrality, within it, of the realm of the visual and of the realm of form in general as dimensions of thought and representation. From this point of view, there are realistic comparisons to be made between science fiction and Fusi’s works: both open up doors which were hitherto closed, or which had been left ajar long ago, and never since been reopened. Doors behind which we had seen a light, once upon a time, but it was a light we were unable to follow with trust: the light of fantastical narratives and of their religious dimension, religious not in the sense of participatory, but rather in the sense of formative, formal action finalised to its own exegesis.
Federico Fusi’s sculptures, often made from traditional Tuscan marble, have a double function: they interpret, and they shape. Both functions pertain to a perfect harmonic whole of tradition and future, just like a (good) science fiction novel. The interpretation of the Bible as a whole, rather than the interpretation of one term from the verbal flux of the Bible as a whole (a flux of expressive relations), is nonetheless modelled according to the same methods which define the secular practice of interpreting one word or one passage of the Bible in an attempt to see it in a new light, with renewed understanding. Therefore shaping words, giving words a tridimensional shape, is a fundamental act in the work of interpretation; and sculpting, here, is akin to the practice of acting, the two are one and the same. The technical and formal result of this operation is something more like a hologram than a sculpture. Although the work speaks to us in a traditional, even vernacular language, it appears like a luminous projection in space – it is no longer us who have to move around it to discover its shape and its details, but rather the work itself which rotates in a linguistic void which is enchanting and grave at the same time. The impression I get is that the work displays itself, dangerously, as suspended object with its aura of lightness, but that if we were to unplug it, if we were to take away the energy that keeps it afloat, it would crash to the ground with its stone-like weight, landing on our foot, perhaps, thus reminding us suddenly (and painfully) of the true gravity of words. But let us be clear, all of this has nothing to do with the typographic games played by the visual poets, rather it belongs to a sense of wonder: the wonder which he who first unveiled, brought to light, interpreted the Dead Sea scrolls will have surely felt. That discovery was an exposure to those verses the way one is exposed to the sun: the man who found the scrolls was not the man translating the verses, but rather it was the verses which transmigrated into him (and hence into us); those verses lifted themselves off the scroll and projected themselves onto us, the way cinema projects itself on a screen. Federico Fusi’s shaping of materials through sculpture is akin to this act of “projection”. It isn’t only the marble which is moulded – we all are moulded by the act of viewing one of his sculptures, we join into the work the way we join into a book.
And Fusi’s works are the size of book, or a little larger – they could be picked up and handled if it wasn’t for their weight. And this impression of manageability dwells within the works, it makes us think (precisely because of the weight of the pieces) of the strength it would take to handle them, it makes us imagine the strength of a man able to pick up the heavy verbal composition of the sculpture and play with it as if it were a balloon, turning it round, throwing it about, finding a new meaning for it at every turn. The sculptor is telling us about this strong man, but even through Federico’s own description of him, we are unable to grasp who he may be.

Alfredo Pirri, September 2012


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