“Don’t walk under a ladder, it’s bad luck.” / “Break a mirror, seven years bad luck.” / “Spill salt, throw a pinch over your left shoulder or it’s bad luck.”
These are some superstitions that have existed since ancient times and still believed to be potent warnings to restrict certain behavior or strike fear in our hearts. At the core of this theme is what Mattia Biagi, an Italian born artist, brought into the forefront for his newest exhibition at Anna Kustera Gallery on 21st Street. It consisted of sculptures, video, painting & photography.
For the most part, Biagi utilizes materials thought to be imbued with supernatural properties such as mirrors, ladders and salt. The most striking piece would be the actual ladder covered entirely with cut up mirrors. It is laughing at the face of two superstitions at once. The carefully crafted free standing sculpture is alluring and enticed me to look closely into the fractured shards. It gave off a seductive siren song that made me even want to get much closer to see distorted reflections but knowing it is cut up mirrors restricted me from climbing it. Curiosity and fear go hand in hand when one managed to circumvent or trump superstition. A rope ladder unraveled with steel steps hang from the ceiling like a pristine dance macabre. A trio of similar sized panels with gesso, salt and ground up glass glistens while enclosing parts of photographs taken from 1970’s porn. Biagi intended to create the feeling of restriction where the small parts tempt you to crave more of what’s behind it. The desire to tempt fate and ignore the restrictive rules of superstition provided a dynamic opposing psychology that fueled the latest works from Biagi. His curiosity and deference to long held superstitious beliefs, which he demystified by deconstructing it provided oeuvres that interact with a viewer’s own limits or cross their boundaries of fear.
Superstitions were created to curb behavior of wanton disregard for what is precious. Mirrors were said to contain a person’s soul and breaking one was impudent to that sanctity. Salt was another valuable commodity and wasting it consigned the offender grave misfortune. Biagi decided to intentionally push the envelope of this long held supernatural tenets. The works exposed our very own sacrosanct beliefs and fear that keep us in line. Only in art does it challenge or expose the absurdity of such beliefs. Fearlessness is an artistic pool of power and Biagi doles it out smartly with his recent works. Bad luck be damned!
MATTIA BIAGI : Someone Told Me Never To Do It
On View: November 29, 2012 – January 12, 2013
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (11 am – 6 pm)
Anna Kustera Gallery. 520 West 21st Street .NYC, NY 10011
Art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Art Images from Anna Kustera Gallery courtesy of the artist
Event photography by: Deukyun Hwang