Flavio Favelli/Graham Fagen/Flavio Favelli. (Reviews: Berlin/London)

By Schwabsky, Barry | Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Flavio Favelli/Graham Fagen/Flavio Favelli. (Reviews: Berlin/London)


Schwabsky, Barry, Artforum International


ART IN PROGRESS/ITALIAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE

"My Home Is My Mind"--the title of Flavio Favelli's exhibition in Berlin: a quintessentially compensatory statement, a way of making sense of one's essential homelessness. Favelli has since the mid-'90s constructed a number of site-specific works in disused buildings, often by means of modifications to the existing architecture and appurtenances. These locations have sometimes become the houses in which he has lived--in fact, as he told the show's curator, Stefano Gualdi, "I began my career as an artist by renovating my house." Favelli's project, I would guess, is to make himself more at home with his felt lack of at-homeness.

In a gallery context Favelli works more or less the same way: not so much by filling a container with objects as by using objects to modify the viewer's perception of the space that contains them. Naturally the objects can, if one wishes, be taken home and reinstalled like any other; they'd be just as discomfiting--and just as understatedly so--as they were here. Indeed, the first time I saw Favelli's work was at an art fair: A painted, tablelike wooden construction was being used as a desk by the gallery that was showing it. At first I didn't even notice it as an artwork, but when I finally did, it set off reverberations that kept me thinking for days--a strange synthesis of painting, sculpture, and even institutional critique. How many artworks can really stand up to the oppressive commercial context of a fair? Undoubtedly it was the poetic obliquity with which Favelli's piece seemed to lose itself there that allowed it, in the longer run, to triumph.

In Berlin, simple structures like a low, almost benchlike white wooden platform extending out from a wall and running almost the length of the space, and a similar low wall surrounding a preexisting iron railing around an opening to a lower level seemed to function as eccentric outgrowths of the interior architecture itself.

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