Magazine article Artforum International

Franco Vaccari: Spazio Oberdan

Magazine article Artforum International

Franco Vaccari: Spazio Oberdan

Article excerpt

As part of the Trigon '75 biennial organized by the Neue Galerie in Graz, Austria, Franco Vaccari invited people to walk up a flight of stairs to the top of the city tower. Standing along their path were a series of people--giants, very short people, identical twins--and a little monkey. "Anyone who came to look was actually followed constantly by the gaze of the motionless people they met along the stairway," Vaccari explains in the catalogue for his recent exhibition at Spazio Oberdan, describing how his Esposizione in tempo reale n. 12: Viaggio--Trip Lucido (Exhibition in Real Time No. 12: Lucid Trip), 1975, was an attempt to reverse the gaze. Directions to spectators--following a practice inherent in many Conceptual experiences--and role reversal (looking/being looked at) are two recurring elements in Vaccari's work. The artist uses the term exhibitions in real time to describe these projects, which are, in effect, created by the direct participation of his audience. For the first such work, Esposizione in tempo reale n. 1: Maschere (Masks), 1969, which took place at the Galleria Civica in Varese, in northern Italy, the artist distributed masks of the segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace, to visitors in a darkened room. Vaccari moved through the crowd, at times suddenly shining a flashlight on someone and taking a photograph. A common reaction was for the person to instinctively seek protection, covering his or her face with the mask. Thus, the observer became the object of observation, like an animal hunted down by the camera, ready to take refuge behind the impersonality of the mask, in flight from the artist's invasive power.

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The retrospective at Spazio Oberdan, "Col tempo: Esposizioni in tempo reale, fotografie, film, video, videoinstallazioni 1965-2002" (With Time: Exhibitions in Real Time, Photographs, Films, Videos, Video Installations 1965-2002), presented documentation of Vaccari's exhibitions in real time via ninety photographic works, two video installations, nine videos and films, and twenty-one books. …

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