Paola Pivi

A strong tension toward extreme limits is one possible definition of the impetus that animates Paola Pivi. For the artist, her work is a form of reality liberated to its greatest expressive potential. This phenomenology of excess is revealed in works that are as concise as matter-of-fact statements: a truck turned over on one side, an upside-down fighter plane, a wall of pure light, one hundred people from China brought together to form a cube, two zebras amid the snows of the Apennines, or the photograph of an island that is as large as the island itself. In the artist’s mind, the work emerges as an already complete idea and, with tireless determination, Pivi arranges the conditions needed to make that initial image tangible. Apparently dissimilar, her works emerge from a consistent propensity to arrange the elements of reality in absurd and alienating relationships, accepting the risk of running into difficult and at times controversial situations. The performance component, which is always present, thus assumes ludic characteristics, almost as if the artist were playing with the world. Like different moments of the same performance, the five untitled photographs from 2003 in the collection of the Castello di Rivoli present situations set in Alicudi, the small island north of Sicily, where the artist has lived for some time. An ostrich at the edge of the sea, two ostriches in a boat and a donkey alone in a boat—these images, which appear incoherent, are in fact the result of a reality that has been experienced and not contrived. A similar explanation can also be given for the outline of the island glimpsed from underwater and the silhouette of her gallerist, who reveals unexpected swimming abilities. Avoiding fiction, Pivi underscores the necessity that animates her artistic investigations—the fact that the work, when created, can be only the way it is and not otherwise.