Friday, 17 January 2014
PAPER CASTLES (2009)
Paper castles are ephemeral and fragile structures.
When we think about them, we instantly
recall the world of dreams, those wishes we raise in our mind as if they were marvelous
castles. Since they are figments of our imagination, these “castles in the sky” have a short life:
they vanish in one night, just as Tillo Buttinoni’s sculptures (they are on view only Wednesday,
April 15, until midnight).
Tillo creates his sculptures with cheap and everyday materials, such as paper and colored
tapes, which are often recycled, even collected from the street. On one hand, his works allude
to Childs play, to those clever and utopian architectures made out of “nothing” that we invent
with the most surprising and spontaneous ease when we are young. On the other, they refer
Paper is not only the material that Tillo uses to give birth to his sculptures; it is also both a
concrete and metaphorical allusion to playing cards. The artist first duplicates and enlarges a
set of cards by hand, applying the colored tape stripes on the surface as if they were
brushstrokes, and then adapts those hand-crafted cards as architectural elements to build his
Playing cards act as words: they generate a system of signs, a language. Colors, suits and
pictures can have a very different meaning according to the context in which they are
employed. Tillo is telling his American story with a deck of black cards. Among them he
chooses only one suit, diamonds, and two pictures, the Queen and King.
If we look back at tradition, black cards, which differ from the regular ones because they are
“in negative”, allude to occult practices; diamonds, more common in the French use,
correspond to “money”, the suit that Italy and Spain have adopted instead of diamonds when
playing; the Queen and King are the two pictures that usually have more value in the deck.
Tillo’s Paper Castles installation is a tangle of signs that need to be solved and interpreted by
keeping the “here and now” attentively in mind. Diamonds stand for money, that’s why the
artist associates them with the symbol of the American dollar. It is not a matter of chance that
they appear as the only suit in the work. Diamonds are a strong allusion to the dictatorial
power that money has on our society. The “black” Queen and King stand for President Barack
Obama and the First Lady Michelle; the only two promising symbols of political change in a
critical time, when the global economical recession seems to have erased all illusions and
optimism at once.
We should read Tillo’s Paper Castles as metaphors of a world in trouble, as poetic signals of a
society that hangs in the balance. Our world needs to pick out and mix up its true values very
carefully to find its lost stability again. In the end, it’s just like in playing cards: you have to
reshuffle the deck very well, if you want to start a new, challenging match.
Text by Cristina Baldacci
255 Canal Street 4rd Floor
New York City