Mario Airò’s work emerges from what the artist calls “a rambling,” intended as the experience of one who moves and speaks through things encountered, avoiding any type of intellectual or formal closure. His works stem from a broad range of cultural references that include literature, film, art history, and elements of everyday life, which he composes into a network of new, intentionally ambiguous relationships that invite the viewer to look at the real world from a new perspective.
The installation Notti e nebbie (Nights and Fogs), 1998, centers on the theme of light and presents a suggestive situation, rich with possibility. Placed on the ground, a slide projector illuminates the silhouette of a miniature lighthouse. The resulting shadow projected on the wall is surrounded by a halo of light that contains the entire spectrum of colors. Airò chooses the lighthouse motif as the symbol of light itself. Visible even under adverse atmospheric conditions, the lighthouse is an indispensable guide for navigators, a comforting indication of the proximity of land and a signal that helps avoid hidden dangers. Although the light it produces is artificial, the lighthouse beacon maintains positive implications as a symbol of knowledge in opposition to the darkness of doubt. Using pared-down techniques and deliberately exposing the components that create the conditions of vision, including the light bulb and its wires, Airò confronts a theme that is rich in references giving us an almost ethereal installation.
Airò’s poetics, which emphasize formal and cultural cross-fertilization, often include music as an important element of the work. In Pulse, 2000, a solar panel, illuminated by strobe lights, produces sufficient energy to operate a cd player. The rhythm of the music on the CD, in turn, regulates the action of the lights. The work is constructed as a circuit, in which the constituent parts acquire value and power only through their interaction. This energy and light produce, and at the same time depend on music, which has been selected by the artist from pieces usually accompanying traditional Indian myths, including the one about the origins of the universe. The atmosphere evoked, utilizing elements that belong to everyday technology, is rich in a spirituality that derives from an immediately demonstrable reality.