This was the first solo exhibition in the UK of work by Italian artist Alice Cattaneo. Consisting of sculpture and video pieces, it was characterised by a formal modesty and an economy of means, and yet the overall effect conveyed a strong sense of wonder.
Made from everyday materials such as wood, felt, cardboard and adhesive tape, Cattaneo’s sculptural works display a hobbyist aesthetic and suggest spontaneous invention, an enthusiasm for ‘do-it-yourself’ construction that overrides fine finishing and precision. Direct responses to their environments, makeshift structures spring from walls, floors and ceilings, is if to suggest an organic opportunity, a sort of growth within available space. Sculptures involving pieces of roughly cut cardboard were arranged in a skillful alternation of solids and voids. They resembled architecture, evoking imaginary cityscapes, urban topographies and microcosms. Seemingly quick to assemble, these constructions also suggested a delicate vulnerability.
Cattaneo’s videos offer the same lightness of touch and unprecious approach. Little epiphanies, they capture moments that have a transformative effect. Thirteen untitled pieces from 2005 are short, funny, touching vignettes that reveal the artist’s unique apprehension of the object world. Cattaneo manipulates her subject matter by using simple techniques and standard technological functions, such as the addition of a soundtrack, to create engaging narratives. The contact of two capers on a plate becomes a cheeky kiss through the introduction of a jump-cut, there is an ascension of moisturising cream from a teaspoon made possible by the reversal of video footage and an ice cream spoon is dashed on the rocks by the playful flick of a finger, accompanied by sci-fi screechings.
A fully illustrated catalogue with documentation of the installation at Ikon and text by Giorgio Verzotti accompanies the exhibition and is available from Ikon Shop and online.
The Alice Cattaneo exhibition was kindly supported by the Italian Cultural Institute.