Theatre of the absurd: Lara Favaretto

Theatre of the absurd: Lara Favaretto

Rosalie Doubal considers the work of Italian artist Lara Favaretto, who refers to her playful, celebratory work as ‘fun machines’

Artistic intervention ‘Confetti Canyon’ lasts a couple of hours during which three hand-triggered canons shower the awaiting crowds with bright clouds of confetti. This, Italian artist Lara Favaretto’s seminal work, offers its viewers an artwork that’s both unexpected and uncontrollable: a baffling happening that sets the stage for an improvised carnival. Shown several times since 2001, this artistic absurdity exhibits all the joyous tricks and turns of Favaretto’s practice. With a continued interest in the ambivalence of festivals, and the momentary suspension of rules for which they allow, this ephemeral work exemplifies the way in which her artworks interact with both their audience and the architecture which forms their backdrop.

A vital scepticism pervades Favaretto’s entire oeuvre, for although her works revel in the joy of creating nonsense, they are often involved in the planning of their own collapse. Curator Claire Jackson explains: ‘The playful visual language employed in her sculptures is often willfully undercut by a simultaneous resignation to failure or the melancholy of a missed event.’ Possessing a significant performative element that includes the mechanical nature of movement and corrosion, Favaretto’s works hurtle and accelerate towards their eventual wear, tear and dissemination.

For the Tramway’s epic main gallery space, Favaretto has created a kinetic sculptural environment. ‘The exhibition features a new schematic of a series of independent works created with multi-coloured car-wash brushes,’ Jackson continues. ‘Each brush is regulated by a timer and turns on an axis at different speeds and intervals, lashing and thus gradually eroding the sheets of metal to which they are fixed.’

The curator’s description of Favaretto’s new work is reminiscent of the artist’s earlier work, ‘It is so if it interests me’. For this, the artist cut and wound 12 years worth of her own Rasta hair into a sturdy 15ft long hemp rope, attached it to a mechanical arm and hung it from a Turin gallery roof. Set in motion by the viewer, the lasso-like rope twists and writhes, wearing increasingly evident marks on the gallery walls that it hits and slaps.

Both this past work and Favaretto’s new installation mimic the social structure of a carnival celebration, in which everyday rules are overturned and the inversion of authority is embraced. Inviting the viewer to partake in the amusements, Favaretto’s boisterous works turn upon themselves and strike out at their surrounds. The Curator explains, ‘The car-wash brushes are destined to wear themselves out in a self-devouring process, evoking a feeling of emptiness or melancholy for the lost object.’ Jackson here translates Favaretto’s concerns with festivals from the anthropological into the artistic, by making reference to the artist’s critique of the status of the art object as finished or autonomous. ‘The artist explores the significance of an artistic gesture that accepts eventual compromise,’ concludes Jackson.

A series of ‘Judd-esque cubes’ created from densely packed confetti will also be on display at Tramway. Subjected to the laws of entropy over time, the viewers and brushes will create movements in the air that disrupt their minimalist forms, and following the end of the exhibition, Tramway will be left only with the scattered confetti remnants of Favaretto’s mischievous work.

Lara Favaretto, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 23 Oct–Sun 13 Dec.

Lara Favaretto

  • 3 stars

Italian artist Favaretto brings her infectiously playful works and carnivalesque atmosphere to the Tramway.

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