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The gallery owner Uma Reddyi with Paolo Aldi - New York

Fluttuazioni Galleria Le due spine

The two thorns gallery

Rovereto - Italy

Fluctuations - Critical essays

Critical essay by Mario Cossali on the occasion of the show "Fluctuations" at the Uma Gallery in New York. 1999

Photography takes up an anything but secondary place in the panorama of the artistic vanguard in our now ending “short” century; and this considering both the stature of the protagonists and their creativity, and theoretical development. Nonetheless, photography tends to be relegated, in the best of cases, to a field of its own, a technical and handicraft limbo, that keeps it away from artistic research.

Sometimes however, as if in a critical contradiction, the opposite is attempted, an identification of photography as such with a creative and inventive endeavor, ignoring means, materials, even the language of photography, and “sanctifying” an image with a title, a conceptual artifice that would extract it from its “mediocrity”, its “dullness”.

In both cases, photography is not valued for its characteristic potential, but only for ever changing ancillary services.

Paolo Aldi is aware of these aesthetic and interpretative nodes, searching punctiliously for forms, the form, decontextualising the image without seeking refuge in easy abstract shortcuts.

An extraordinary passage by Walter Benjamin in his essay “A Short History of Photography” (published in 1931 in the Berlin review “Die Literarische Welt”) can serve as introduction to a comment on Paolo Aldi’s “Fluctuations”, above all to understand the complexity of the symbolism.

“Nature talking to the camera is a different nature to that talking to the eye; different in particular in this way: that instead of a space knowingly developed by people, there is a space created unconsciously. If it is entirely normal for one to understand, for example, how people walk, certainly one knows nothing of their attitude in the fraction of a second when they take a step. Photography with all its means, however, shows this. Only through photography can one discover this optical unconscious, as through psychoanalysis the instinctive unconscious”.

Paolo Aldi’s nudes fluctuate and sway between the strength and the transparency of the body, and bring to light, at the highest point of technical artifice, the purest level of interior truth.

The body is material, has size, outlines, but lives at the same time in movement, in relationships, escapes the typical fixity of the material, is in great part water, floods and ebbs.

The body takes on many times such strange and unthinkable dimensions, following “unconsciously” the ways of dreams, of music, of suffering, of love. What the body knows is not irrational, but goes beyond the pure motion of reason. The body makes and unmakes itself and in each instance leaves a universe of traces, clues, that become history and memory, vision and allusion.

Paolo Aldi’s nudes represent an existential and hence cognitive fluctuation: in their fluctuation they aim to reveal the body’s form, forms that welcome, forms that reject, signs in the dark, lanterns in the night, a consoling refuge or a strange and hostile place.

Paolo Aldi has accented technically this fluctuation process (of the images in and of themselves), using an infrared film.

Photography aims to show in the image the visual, emotive, intellectual swaying wave that submerges us and that we cannot express with words, with adequate concepts.

Particular techniques have the goal of going beyond, as much as possible, the image captured by the lens, even if it was already loaded fantastically.

Making visible the mystery hidden both in the body, and in the eye that observes: Paolo Aldi is faithful to this cognitive tak, avoiding decorative or calligraphic temptations, trusting to his creative stimulus with renewed ingenuity, with renewed compositive “waiting for the miracle”.


Mario Cossali

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