Giuseppe Penone

about 7 years ago

The mirrored lenses is a work done in 1970. We created them with an optician. At the time contact lenses were not as common as today, they were not used as much. It was created putting two lenses together with a mirrored surface between the two lenses. They were very thick and difficult to wear, quite painful. The idea was that the body in itself, in space is sculpture. The body of a person. When our eyes are open the physical extension is as far as the eyes can see. The space we see is reflected in our mind, therefore the space we see is the extension of our body. Closing our eyes we define the body with the volume that it really has. And what we see we transmit it through our actions, in what we do, in the conception of reality and life that we have, and if you make a visual work you would retransmit it through the work. Therefore closing our eyes with a mirrored element, reflecting what we see, it allows others to see what this person would have seen. And that was the idea. It is like becoming part of the work before it is created. [...] Well I said before, when someone looks, the external space is what we have in our mind. And is there a time as well when you open your eyes, the light time, like a propagation of the glance. Like a projection. In this piece I used branches and I have created a mask with leaves covering the eyes, and from there two branches are like the propagation of the glance in space. These two branches cross over indicating what we have seen, like the optic nerves, that is why the title of this work is 'Doppio sguardo vegetale' as there are two masks crossing glances, and the reason of the leaves is to indicate that. [...] In 1978 I wanted to create a sculpture about the idea of breath, that is how 'soffio di fogile' has been created, because when we breathe we create a volume of air different from that which surrounds us, and this volume of air, it is already a sculpture, something automatic that we produce for all our life, this volume that extends from our body. [...] The synthesis of the shape of a breath is like a vase, therefore I underlined it with the shape of a vase and the imprint of a body that produces breath. It is like relating the body with the invisible part of its extension. Another point is that when we breathe we absorb oxygen into our body through the lungs, and our body which is waterproof to the outside in that moment changes. This is what happened as well during reproduction, in that case the woman's body is reactive to the man's semen, there is something concerning Genesis in the idea of breath which is expressed in mythology and with the religious conception of the creation of mankind. There is this idea of breath as a vital part of generating life. This is secondary though to the problem I had with sculpture. Later on I realised this other work collecting box leaves. As they are small and light. I put them together and I lied on them and breathed in, again to highlight the body and the extension of breath which is clear in the leaves; so the weight of the body and the breath have the same value.

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