Lorenzo Marchi
conceptual art on photography

works/years 2010-2011 - series

Absolutely Goods
Giacomelli rev.
Azteca Papers
The Poladroid Sessions
9 Micks Video Stills (Paint It Black)
London Circus


THE FALSE AND LYING GODS.  The ABSOLUTELY GOODS series highlights various aspects of our lives tied to the economic system in which we are immersed, and its basic element, the goods. An attempt to read beyond the recent winds of crisis on the art system, and looking at the human and environmental upheavals, and at the disturbing signs of sunset of an era. 

The artistic intervention involves mainly the textual language. The work started from a research aimed to form, with the use of brachets, the polisenso (multi-meanings) in phrases of common use. The bracket acts on vocabulary, doubling or tripling the meanings of the whole sentence. As in the transition from the term GOODS to GOOD and GOD. This conceptual passage - and here we find its peculiarity compared to word games - can be viewed simultaneously, and different meanings maintain their presence, for example by displaying the message GO(O)D(S). 

The propositions thus acquire an evocative power of meanings sometimes strident, belonging to different contexts. For a more careful analysis, the combination of concepts apparently divorced becomes useful to highlights unusual relations and contradictory or transversal aspects of reality, always hovering between intuitive approach and structured readings, between tangible phenomenon and invisible spirit, between concrete objects and religious or secular ideals. 

The phrase THE FALSE AND LYING G(O)ODS identifies and calls the idols/gods with the goods themselves, in their persuasive and engaging capacity of advertisement, often tendentially false. 

Or the Good Shepherd, who takes on the appearance of the big brand or bank that sells its financial products - great piper dragging behind him flocks of sheep-shareholders  to the slaughter - in 


REALITY AND POLISENSO. In the polisenso and in its apparent contradiction, sometimes in surprising ways, emerges the complexity of the system. The language, in combining contradictory meanings, has this power to highlight, with a specific autonomy, unexpected but real connections and relations. With a critique not only regarding the limits of the social organization set by the economic system, with its imbalances and its recurrent crises. More generally we are in the presence of contradictions involving both the existential-individual and the socio-political choices. This is a very current, but also secular dialectic which has run through humanity also before capitalism. The struggle between spirit and materiality, between God and secular goods was well stigmatized by Francis of Assisi with his message and his life. His choice characterized by a dichotomous passaging from abundance of wealth to frugality and poverty, leaving comforts and property and conquering spirituality and values, is evoked by the contrast GOODS-GOD in  G(O)OD(S). A paradigmatic path of an antipatory backtrend compared to positivistic spirit of industrial development trends of the ‘900 that crossed the West, that are growing now through Asia, and will surely invest Africa in the near future. With achievements and rewards, but also with myths and illusions that this abnormal growth and distortion generated.

THE TECHNICAL INTERVENTION. In poetry and literature the pure polisenso, obtainable from a single proposition associated with different meanings, has been widely used, with great evocative power, as in Shakespeare. 

In this body of work I acted for textual intervention to maintain a different approach from the poetic-literary one, favouring the visual of a typical artistic context, to realize a simultaneous view of different meanings. 

Technically, this action uses the word game called "scarto di finale" (change of ending), as in the passage between GOODS AND GOOD, or with the "scarto di vocale" (waste of vowel), as in the passage between GOOD and GOD, or both, in simultaneous G(O)OD(S). The brackets thus provide a perception that at first is visual.  This type of simultaneity can find a well-known homophonic parallel in the title of the play by Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest. 

The subtraction or the addiction of letters produce a range of meanings inscribed in different cultural climates and in different economic concepts of the past and of the present. As in the perspective ambiguity of (GOODS) LOVE IS THE ANSWER, or  in the different motivations of WITH G(O)OD(S) ON OUR SIDE.

THE HOMOLOGATING LANGUAGE. The word GOODS, taken as a symbol of the global economic system, is the magnetic reference from which the research started. The word "Goods" it's a pole which attracts and repels at the same time, in its Marxian values of use and exchange, in the daily use of monetary value, which is sovereigning our quality of life. The advertising shapes of goods, for example, reflect both a useful and informative content often sensorially pleasant, and the intrusive ubiquity in different times and contexts, as the spots in the scene of a dramatic movie or in a journalistic report. The centrality of goods pervades trading, human relations, entertainment, services, communication, all tendentially aligning to its measured value, the money. 

In particular, with the growing influence of media and advertising, the language is increasingly taking the role of ultimate shape, of final form of goods, as a prevailing factor that moves us to buy. Writing is not independent from the ways to represent commodities, goods and services. 

Hence I made the choice of collecting in the series ABSOLUTELY GOODS many popular expressions drawn from proverbs, sayings or excerpts from literature and music texts, emphasizing the integration and the global spread of the concept "goods", which can also involve those who are not in condition to buy and use those goods. But the concept culturally influences their behavior. 

We find, therefore, ancient themes and critic questions as the one of Pasolini against the centralization of the consumerism society: he stigmatized its omnipotence in destroying, with the uniforming homologating language of goods and media, the languages associated with particular local experiences, the peripheral historical cultures, the diversities.

The series also moves, with its polisenso, in the opposite direction as regards to trends post September 11th, which have somehow created a divide between an earlier period of philosophical and behavioral relativism and the current era, characterized by the urgent need of net and simplifying signals, even simplistic. So in art we can see the prevail of the aesthetic criteria and of the opportunistic behavior, functional to the achievement of the primary economic goals.

NOTES ON USED MATERIALS. A final note about the chosen materials. The series consists of 25 steel plates, corresponding to 25 different writings. The steel, as a material of humble structure, represents more the strength of what remains rather than the changing of appearance, more the essential item of sentimental value than the luxury and flashy goods. Chosen as tenacious material, to emphasize a constant dialectic of history that since Adam and Babel, through the various religious messages, notably the Franciscan one, it comes to us with new problems but with old existential dilemmas. A look far away and, at the same time, inside the contemporary world. 

(LMReview issue No 6)