Fiorenza Pancino Andrea Kotliarsky Cristina D'Alberto Elvira Keller

Director of Villa Lattes Museum in Istrana

Vicenza Italy



When we discuss ceramics, art, and women, we are obliged to share a friendship that binds four female ceramists from near the Italian city of Faenza to their project FACE. Currently ongoing, FACE was first presented at the last edition of Argillà Italia. FACE is an acronym for Fiorenza, Andrea, Cristina and Elvira; four artists who have worked together to realize a large, unique work, comprised of many small circular pieces, each unique and different from the others, even if all are traceable to a limited and iconic series. FACE literally means face, countenance, but also the ability to know how to look and how to dialogue with those in front of us. Translated from Latin, fax or facis means torch or illumination. This second definition also characterizes the work and the partnership: the work seeks to light the way and helps us to see into deeper and more impenetrable places. Each artist worked in her own studio, following her own style and using the material most suited to her, to put a small part of herself into each piece. All these joined together create a drape similar to a large blanket. Symbolically, the blanket accompanies us in all stages of life. From birth to death, it protects and warms us during moments of rest and during the night, when light gives way to darkness and our body and our mind regenerate through sleep. The literary reference is the Homeric wedding-bed, a place of love and passion, a place of meeting and sharing, a place where life is conceived and where it often finds its end. For children, the bed is an object that can transmit a sense of warmth and peace; a safe zone. "Linus's blanket" is now a proverbial to indicate something that gives security and something that one cannot deprive oneself of; a symbol of lost childhood, a magical and apotropaic protection. The blanket cradles us in our sleep and keeps us company while we dream, and it is precisely in the dream world that we find the great bond between symbolism and the unconscious. At first glance we are involved in the work on an emotional level: we seem to smell the scent of laundry, of sheets lying in the sun. We might have an intimate memory of childhood that makes us think of our grandmothers and sunny days. As we approach, however, we become aware of the material of which the work is made: ceramic, which is not at all soft and light! Though the work initiates a sensation of an envelopment, of an embrace, of comfort, once we investigate deeper (and read what the artists have enclosed in their individual statements) we realize instead how this quilt investigates the subjectivity of relationships and the depersonalization of society. Fiorenza Pancino writes about how mass phenomena or tragic events are often reduced to numbers. Perhaps it is only human to attempt to give an order to chaos, to study reality with objectivity and detachment, to find an algebraic formula to define any situation.  But Fiorenza contradicts this sterile approach: in a wider design such as the blanket, her numerical elements acquire another meaning. They merge and mix like embroidery with the pieces of the other artists, creating a visual rhythm different from the simple numerical value that is normally attributed to them. Andrea Kotliarsky has instead forged tokens, exploiting the roundness of their form. Yes, they are exactly those coins that we used in telephone booths, video games and slot machines (though now, even the phone booth is a distant memory). The token, by its nature, can be used only once, a bit like our life. As video games remind us, when the token is used up, it’s “Game Over.”  Each of us has only one token available, and must use it well! Once upon a time the token determined the duration of a phone call, the time and intensity of a dialogue. In slot machines it can be the source of great wealth, if we are lucky. Each token is a life to be played, a blanket of tokens is a web of lives. Cristina D'Alberto’s pieces penetrate, through her gaze, into the most intimate spheres of people’s lives. As if telling a story, she paints emotions and fragments of their lives; the stories intertwine like the weft and warp of a blanket. In each eye there is an individual vision of the people’s history she portrays, which is informed by the emotion generated by her encounter with them. This leads the work in a parallel world comparable to a dream, without chronological linearity, where feelings expand and deform time and reality. An unraveling of emotions intertwines with the gazes of those who observe the work, in a continuous renewal of dialogue. A glance becomes eternal. Elvira Keller has focused her attention on the macro-theme of the blanket as protection. A blanket accompanies us at our birth and at our death, two moments of life that bring us back to the theme of identity.  We come into the world and we are given a name, a tax code; in dying we leave only a trace of our earthly identity. After death, dental imprints are our only real key to recognizability, being the only part of the body that remains long after we are gone. Dental imprints are therefore more efficient and effective than fingerprints, which with the passage of time, we lose all trace of. Keller’s tiles investigate identity through what makes us unique and different; at the same time recognizable and cataloged, each of us is a small part of the system, as each piece is an element of the blanket. All these modules have been patiently sewn by the four artists onto a frame structure. The work is a large patchwork made by eight hands where the elements represented are intertwined and mixed together; the alternating elements create a visual rhythm of light refraction between glossy and matte surfaces, a depth of movement between decorated and engraved surfaces. In the center there is a 7x7 cm box for each artist, in which we can recognize their individual message, because in every collaborative work the fulcrum always remains the individuality of those who compose it. The work was exhibited at Argillà Italia 2018 in Faenza at Studio Calychantus on Corso Mazzini and at the Ceramics Festival in Nove Portoni Aperti at the Barettoni Factory, formerly the Antonibon Factory, curated by Elena Agosti and set-up by Oscar Dominguez, with the sponsorship of Ente Ceramica Faenza.


FACE: Fiorenza, Andrea, Cristina, Elvira

Installation at Barettoni Ceramics in Nove 2018 Photogroup Nove Chemello.

Installazione ad Argillà Faenza, settembre 2018 Foto Elena Agosti

FACE, the symbols

Fiorenza Pancino www.fpancino.it Andrea Kotliarsky www.andreakotliarsky.com Cristina D'Alberto www.cristinadalberto.it Elvira Keller www.kellerelvira.com

Processing stages Photos by Anthony Girardi


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