DESASTRES by Marco Fusinato

Spotlights 07.07.2022

To illustrate Hémisphère son 's interest in contemporary creation at the intersection of experimental music and the visual arts, and on the occasion of the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, a spotlight on DESASTRES, the sound and interactive environment by Marco Fusinato for the Australian Pavilion, is necessary

I admit that I did not visit the Venice Biennale, but among the oral reports and those gleaned from the internet and various social networks, the experimental noise project by Australian multidisciplinary artist Marco Fusinato definitely catches the eye. After all, the film critic Serge Daney used to write about films he hadn't seen... And if I didn't experience the immersive nature of the work, I was able to digitally apprehend its different hypnotic variations documented day by day on the instagram account @desastres_desastres and grasp its random logic. 

Born in Melbourne in 1964 to Italian immigrants from the Dolomites, 100 kilometres north of Venice, Marco Fusinato is a regular visitor to the region. Representing Australia - his parents' adopted country - in Venice - his parents' birthplace, so to speak - has the flavour of a particular fatality. This is not the first time he has participated in the Venice Biennale. At the 56th edition, and as part of the exhibition "All the World's Futures" conceived by the curator Okwui Enwezor for the International Pavilion, he proposed From the Horde to The Bee, a project with a radically different format to the one currently on show at the Australian Pavilion, involving the publication of 10,000 copies of a book devoted to the Primo Moroni archive, an independent publishing house based in an autonomous space in Milan. Mixing critical and militant texts, Marxist libels and anarchist pamphlets, the edition, which also featured an iconographic arsenal of the radical left, was given to visitors in exchange for ten euros. At the end of the exhibition, a sculpture of organically collected banknotes replaced the piles of books and, following the principle of the circular economy, the money was redistributed in favour of the Primo Moroni archive and the squatters of the autonomous space.  

Accompanied by the curator Alexie Glass-Kantor, Marco Fusinato has conceived an installation for this 59th edition, the idea of which was developed during the confinement caused by the health crisis and even radicalised at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. DESASTRES - a title inspired by the Japanese metal band Corrupted and the context in which the painter Goya created the series Los Desastres de la Guerra (1810-1820) - thus reflects an active pessimism, all those frustrations accumulated during this unprecedented socio-political momentum tormented by war and pandemic. What other musical genre could so adequately constitute the soundtrack of contemporary chaos than the noise, death, black or doom metal used here by Fusinato, in dialogue and disruption with a repertoire of dystopian or even apocalyptic images broadcast on a giant screen? For 200 days, the architecture of the pavilion is thus transformed into a recording and improvisation studio open to all, where the artist-musician, whose work has crossed visual and musical fields since the end of the 1990s, explores "the tensions and contradictions of opposing forces: underground culture / institutions; noise / silence; minimalism / maximalism; purity / contamination", performs, or even interprets, on the electric guitar the score proposed by subversive and violent photographs, dark reflections of a disastrous reality, which scroll on the screen at a random rhythm. 

The artist is present! A self-proclaimed proletarian of the art world, Fusinato offers and dedicates all his energy, vitality and labour to the Biennale audience, striving to hold on for eight hours a day, clutching his electric guitar, improvising blocks of noise, saturated feedback and discordant intensities, throughout a forced confinement. 

The minimalist, post-punk aesthetic of the project, underpinned by the austerity of the black and white images and the intensity of the metal, intersects with the dark and virile work of Steven Parrino and the immersive installations of Ryoji Ikeda, and culminates in Fusinato's cross-cutting interests in experimental noise music, underground culture, the history of art, political struggles and resistance strategies, and the uninterrupted flow of mass media. An open work if ever there was one, it is ultimately up to the audience to interpret this synchronised dialogue between the pervasive sound and the deluge of images, relayed by a powerful amplification system and echoing in the giardini beyond the pavilion's walls. A warning, moreover, at the entrance to the building warns that the installation includes high-frequency sounds and stroboscopic lighting effects. Caution: danger to the eyes and ears! Fusinato is, here in this environment, almost a facilitator, a noise-maker, a diffuser of images that act as a score from his point of view as a performer and operate like a Rorschach test from the point of view of the audience, which is left free to decipher these audiovisual combinations, to make its own way, to meditate in the midst of chaos. 

The 400-page catalogue associated with the exhibition and published by Presses du réel includes texts by theorist and filmmaker Elizabeth Povinelli, art historian Chus Martinez and guitarists Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) - with whom Marco Fusinato has collaborated regularly since the 1990s -, Stephen O'Malley (SUNN O)))) and Bruce Russell (Dead C).

Tristan Bera

Photos © Andrea Rossetti


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