9 Jun 2020

Originalism manifesto

Originalism

Preface

In the modern epoch we have witnessed the dusk of the big idealisms and of the art movements that shook the Twentieth Century. Contemporary art has been characterized by a relativistic explosion, where many have been searching for their own muse in the introspection, elevating intellectually, while in the same scenario some have pursued the self-affirmation of their ego searching for prestige, but often ending up becoming exquisitely decorated but empty containers.
Supporting since ever that expressive relativism, defending the conscience as primacy of the individual, quite unexpectedly I find myself promoting movements to the collectivity, that is writing manifestos: after the recent one on Procedure art, now I feel that it is necessary to share the manifesto of what I defined as Originalism, I believe that the art and intellectual world today should focus on precise topics to counterbalance a dangerous inclination of mankind toward techno-addiction, which will lead to a techno-nihilism.

if only Giotto had known, 2019
Object. Woven palm leave, ⌀ 70 × 7 mm, unique

Although the artist is a “technology’s minister”, thus capable of crossing the natural bounds, since ever I had an innate feeling of empathy with the nature and of astonishment for the cosmos.
After having known well and experimented firsthand the possibilities of the machine, that feeling returns even more strong, inalienable, because it is the only one source of inspiration and knowledge, only one source of pleasure and freedom, compared to which the practical advantages of technology are like sand between the fingers, that engages you too much in the continuous attempt to hold it, it subjugates you (see the article Exposing the enslaver machine of 2012).
Therefore the artist can be considered a sacerdotal figure, in the sense of depositary and administrator, beside shamanic in the Beuysian sense.

Since ever, my artworks have been conceptual, developed around a fundamental seed, which external form is just a wrapping, an interface with the others, an appeal. With time I further reduced the weight of the technical component, up to the creation of works of arte poverissima (very poor art), even ephemeral, for my personal pleasure of primigenial contact with the intelligent cosmos.
Among the many in my eclectic inventory, I started to discern those works materially very poor, beside collecting the documentation of other introspective acts never catalogued, with the intention to write a manifesto of this conceptual trend. On that moment I learned of the passing of Germano Celant, founder of Arte Povera (Poor Art), and I have read into this coincidence a sign that this was the time to complete and publish the manifesto. As a matter of fact years have passed since I started thinking about how to call this new trend, right including Arte Poverissima, but at last I wanted to keep a distance from the most common acceptation of the term “poor”: considering an art as poor for being made of poor materials is due to the common concept that riches are something material or pecuniary, while to me riches are the richness of thought, of the intellect, of the concept, of knowledge, thus a work is poor only when it says nothing, even if made with gold and diamonds. In addition, Originalism rejects the use of industrial materials that are widely present in Arte Povera, with which it shares instead the search for harmony between man and nature and the refusal of the consumerist materialism.


MANIFESTO

Modern civilization has been characterized by an abnormal and unbalanced development of materialism, which determined a serious environmental and human deterioration, up to eclipsing the impalpable dimensions of metaphysics to the point that the existence of many, as shut into a Platonic Cave, has no more contact with them.
Originalism refers to the origin: be that of the material, that must be as much natural as possible; be either of the concept, that must go back as much as possible to the essential principle; or be that of the expression, that must return to a status of pureness freeing itself from the schemes of the materialist hedonism.
In order that an artwork could be considered originalist, beside expressing the principles of Originalism, it should be materially humble but conceptually or spiritually significant, modest in the form but weighty in the  meaning, made with matters of natural and organic origin, or found materials, or reused, obtained in a primitive way, without using technologically complex tools, non-polluting, created by yourself and not benefiting of the other people’s work, which is the precondition of the industrialization and of the consumerism.
Therefore, the originalist artwork is as more coherent to its genre as many of the following points it satisfies:
1) it is formally or materially humble or simple;
2) it is intellectually or spiritually significant;
3) it is made of ecological matters, found or free, in their natural state or processed your own;
4) it is created without the use of tools, unless they are simple, manually or mechanically powered, or self-constructed;
5) it does not require energy from polluting sources, in the creation and for its functioning;
6) it does not make use of industrial technology or that considers the work of others, but only self-produced.


Afterword

Even sharing and apparently overlapping the ideals of Primitivism, Originalism is diverging from it because allowing more emphasis on the intellectual and metaphysical component, tracing back to and taking inspiration from a primigenial human condition where the being is still capable of feeling the cosmos, of feeling that he is the cosmos, like a newborn is conscious that he is the centre of the universe, that is individual or Self. Originalism does not reject the rationality of knowledge and allows the memory of science (term meant etymologically as the knowing, conscience or intelligent spirit capable of understanding the cosmos, not as notional dogmatism,) without regressing from intellectual evolution, which is fundamental in the transcendental search, without reverting to a mechanistic instinctual behaviour. Originalism diverts also from the criticisms regarding the feared socio-economical issues of Primitivism, raised by such a society that can’t do without the pragmatic advantages of technology and doing anything to prevent the sunset of that interdependence required by industrialization, by consumerism, by exploitation and by profit. Further, Originalism is different also from Environmental and Ecological arts that are more pivoted on the practical issues than the metaphysical and spiritual dimension of an originalist existence.

The term Originalism suggests also the search for the origins of human expression, that is the materialization of an idea, which, in primordial epochs, even prior to the birth of language, was often inexpressible without a representation either visual, allegorical or symbolical. Nonetheless, since the concept is an important component in this genre, word and writing are considered in any way, both in the body and as title of the artwork.

The most extreme form of Originalism would be the vision of a human being as a naked creature that interacts with the natural environment, disconnected from the modernity, with a naive behaviour that is not altered by the mind constructs, not only technological but above all cultural, notional and dogmatic, that are inducing an artificial, adulterated acting. For the actual evolved and knowing individual, it is obviously very difficult to think in a genuinely primordial way, he can only represent his own ideal vision of spontaneity; but practising one’s own deep soul can be useful to reconcile with nature and to emancipate from the technology addiction.

Originalism, beside that it could be considered an evolution of Arte Povera, becoming Arte Poverissima, it could be defined also:
- pre-Daedalism, or pre-Minoan art, inasmuch inspired to epochs prior to the dawn of applied arts, to the birth of the artist’s archetype who creates on commission or with an artisanal purpose, who then gets rid of materialism and profit, devoting himself to the knowing and the research;
- primalism or primordialism, in the acceptation of primitive, referred to the era when art was purely an expressive need rather than a skill or a bargaining chip;
- essentialism, in the capacity of searching for the essence of things;
- pre-technicism or pre-art, that is prior to the creation of the same concept of art or technique.


Gallery of officially archived artworks

A list of artworks pertaining Originalism that have been officially included in the archive.

rewilding a plum tree, 2014
Itinerant performance, 5’03”

all rods lead to Rome, 2016
Itinerant performance, 28’41”

if only Giotto had known, 2019
Object. Woven palm leave, ⌀ 70 × 7 mm, unique

the meaning of life in a nutshell, 2020
Object. Nutshell, cotton thread, various sizes, ed. 8

the secret of eternal life in a nutshell, 2020
Object. Nutshell, ink on wax paper, various sizes, ed. 8

urlinie, 2020
Series of six dysfunctional pan flutes. Cane, thread, various sizes

two plus two, 2020
Object. Sections of palm twig, various sizes, ed. 2

bundle of four different similarities, 2020
Object. Date palm twig, packing thread, various sizes, ed. 4

straight line walk, 2020
Dysfunctional walking stick. Cane, vine, ink, variable size (85 cm length), unique

four potatoes, 2020
Photograph. Print on paper 40 × 40 cm, ed. 4

alternate ingeneration, 2020
Object. Dried catgrass panicles, various sizes, ed. 3

issuing triad, 2020
Object. Dried catgrass, packing thread, variable size, ed. 2

almost peer, 2020
Performance. Photographic documentation, variable size

memorable dates, 2019-2020
Series of four objects. Date palm kernels and wax on wood, ~ 9 × 38 x 1 cm


Gallery of uncatalogued ephemeral works

As said above, in the past years, almost a decade, I was nursing this idea about a primitive art, staging the following seminal actions that were mostly ephemeral, therefore surviving only as photographic documentation, thus not archived in the official catalogue. You will hardly see these works in an exhibition, I just list them here to illustrate the whole path that led me to Originalism today.

pointless investigation, 2002

the birth of dichotomy, 2010

celestial tetrapod, 2010

man grove, 2010

hemisun, 2010

ISUN, 2010

disc code, 2010

triadic gear hemisun, 2011

four flowers but one, 2011

five compelling instant stelae, 2011

floating antenna, 2011

curiosity killed the actinian, 2011

sail, 2011

two flowers, 2011

flower, 2011

ground-to-air extenna, 2011

cerulean rimmel (stranded velella and seashell), 2013

eternal sundial, 2013

sculpted flower, 2014

rebus, 2014

ambush, 2014

eyefish, 2014

squaring the triangle on a pure stone, 2014

triangulating the annulus, 2016

humanized rat skull, 2018


Originalist poetry

As a final word, I wrote also several poems inspired to this feeling, during the conceptual development and right in the places where I left the ephemeral works, mostly facing the sea. You can find all these verses collected along many more in Poems 2002-2020, available here.