CONDYLURA01
w/PAOLO BUFALINI


2021
Edition of 100
20 pages
Broadsheet


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/The published photos have been taken by Paolo Bufalini and his mother in 2001 during a trip to the United States (Washington DC - Vermont - New York).


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Digging for worms, the condylura has stumbled into a wormhole: an old photo album becomes the testimony of a temporal paradox, a paper-capsule to see what will always have already been.



TEXT


An old album containing photos of a trip to the United States, found by the artist in the attic of his childhood home. The protagonist is a seven-year-old boy, always appearing next to other things, all gigantic: What is a giant? asks a museum plaque behind a snake of ordinary size.
Scrolling through the pages, one encounters Egyptian sarcophagi, stuffed animals, and various skeletons spanning the depths of terrestrial life, from the T-rex to the reptile, all the way to the joke between two tusks that seem to flash their ass and the monkeys laughing in our faces. Strange Hotel interiors decorated in Medieval style, a toy shop, its giant robot, and a terrible sunset, reflected in the skyscrapers facing the destruction site of Ground Zero. Often dark, or burnt by the flash, the photos are evidently taken by the child, caught up in the heat of the mechanical eye, which shields him from the giants.
Yet, these pictures have too many correspondences with Paolo Bufalini’s artistic practice; the animal, technological, and psychological landscapes captured in the series echo many of his sculptures and installations. It’s not only a matter of recurrent presence of bones, homes, and codes; the photographic sequence moves in jump cuts, activating associations that intersect the storyline of the family trip.
Many eyes confront the viewer assertively: from the almost-human look of the bison to the eyes painted on the Egyptian mask or on the butterfly wings. John Berger famously noticed how the look of animals, watching from the narrow abyss of non-comprehension that separates us, acts as a magical and metaphorical apparatus, eyes directed-at and rolled-back-in ourselves. A power that is probably extendable also to machines.
Immediately come to mind some of Paolo Bufalini’s works, in which animals seem to act as the rearview mirrors of machine myths: the modern, mechanical one, the mini-motorbike like the Futurists’ car, however clamped by a shark’s jaw; and the informatic one, an ouroboros in which the snake, recurrent in myths as a threshold between the sky (cloud) and the earth (server), assumes the form of an email icon, of a suave threat message. And reptile claws ripping neoprene gloves, ashtrays sharing obscure dreams of premonition, animated pillows ascetically breathing in unison, human skulls covered in colorful puzzles or confetti, snake tails protruding from hats as the pseudopods of a mutant teen.
It is tempting to speak of the album as evidence of a distant attraction for animal and technological otherness, as albumen of a reptile egg protecting and nurturing these images over the years. But their resurface disturbs a linear cause-effect narrative, opening to a plot of temporal paradoxes. A weird tale in still-images, with time travels that rewrite the consequentiality of events. Among the many eyes, one may also count the redwood section, an enormous pupil, plunging its roots in the abyss of time. It may be a wormhole, with a young argonaut posing in front of it, ready to see what will always have already been.


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