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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Art, Photography and The Dignity of Labor: A tribute to...

I met Alberto Castro at Gazebook Sicily in 2015 when he attended a workshop I was doing with Alex Bochetto of Akina.

He was working on the renovation and design of a hospital in Catania and had been photographing the debris that gathered around the place; not so much debris as accidental art, little scatterings of dust, little blotches of paint, little knots of wire that all came together.

2013 - External Area
'Cuts on Wood', 30cmx30cm. Author: Laborer
Tribute to Lucio FONTANA

It was all quite beautiful; austere, grey installations that resembled the history of twentieth century art. Picasso, Duchamp, Pollock, Kiefer, Burri, Hesse (not to mention a whole bunch of photographers).

2015 - Courtyard B Block- Ground Floor
'Cuts on Concrete', 30cmx30cm. Author: Laborer
Tribute to Lucio FONTANA

And then he made the book and that is how the book has been laid out, as a series of images from a building site that resemble modernist art. It's laid out like a catalogue; blank page - picture, blank page - picture, blank page - picture... with plenty of white space around the image so you know it's important.

2013 - D Block - Second Floor
'Black Hole', flexible air duct, 20cmx20cm. Author: Unknown
Tribute to Eva Hesse

It comes with both a map that looks like a blueprint (so you know the context in which the work was made) and a guide to the images. And that's valuable in itself. So you can look at an image and see that it references Fontana's Lacerations, or the multi-dimensional psychological expressionism of Eva Hesse, or Alberto Burri's 'Cretto' paintings (and if you don't know it, look at his Grande Cretto in Gibelina Sicily - that's something I need to visit some day soon).

If, like me, you have no idea what these references refer to me, then the book becomes a strange kind of research tool. It's photography linking itself into twentieth century art and I must say I enjoyed trawling through the internet to find who and what the tributes referred to.

The book ends with a couple of pictures of the actual space where Castro made the work. Actually, they almost look like  installation shots, gallery shots of an opening, though instead of showing the work in the space itself, he's showing the space itself after the fact; it was a gallery of found art but now it's a hospital. There's a beautiful symmetry to that, and a smartness on the relationship between art, space, body and mind. I just went back to it now, and I must say it gets better with each viewing. It's a little bit different and really smart.

See the book here. Well, actually you can't really see the book anywhere because Alberto is not quite sure what he wants to do it and he's an architect and not a photographer.

You can't even buy it very easily, though there are copies available, because I don't think he has a website. But you can friend him on Facebook and ask him there. And there's a special edition available...

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