Via di roma 136
“Secure within the shell of the high-rise like passengers on board an automatically piloted airliner, they were free to behave in any way they wished, explore the darkest corners they could find. In many ways, the high-rise was a model of all that technology had done to make possible the expression of a truly “free” psychopathology.” – James Graham Ballard, High Rise, 1976.
Cells of day-to-day life. Luca Barberini disassembles the crowds depicted in more than one occasion. They are festive, anonymous, angry, seen in glimpses of real and surreal life that feed off that fine line of voyeurism. There is a multitude of inhabitants; unaware of being seen or maybe showing off for their “fifteen minutes of fame” behind the windows of the high-rise they share. They are strangers to each other but not unaware of each other. They are fragments of a disassembled society.
‘Via Roma 136’ is the permanent installation that, from the 11th October 2013, will adorn the Koko Mosaico Studio space in Ravenna. It is a project that is both a work of art made in mosaic and a mosaic itself. It is a total of 56 windows, measuring just a few square centimetres, each with a handful of tesserae and the artist’s creativity to stage snippets of life.
‘Via di Roma 163’ is also a “low-cost” art project. Each window can be purchased individually for a handful of euros – each one is numbered and signed as well as shared publically via various social networks like Instagram and Facebook. The goal is to stimulate and spread interest toward mosaics as a creative art form rather than just as a (important) means to copy the late antique and Byzantine mosaics of the city. This is, in effect, exactly where Luca Barberini is coming from and where he acquires his inspiration while working toward a lucid and ironic view of the present. That background knowledge has helped him create a signature style.
If we define mosaic by saying it is a method of artistic creation through the organisation and assembly of individual units within a defined space, then Luca Barberini’s approach is at the very limit of this definition. Here, every tessera has its own, specific and evident meaning. It is not the letter in a word but a word in a phrase or even a whole phrase in a discussion. It is a cheek, forehead, a lock of hair over a face or even a book, bottle or table in a contemporary still life; a stem, leaf, petal of a flower or a beak, wing or claw of a bird.
While watching Luca Barberini at work, the placement of the first tesserae may seem more or less random or without a precise sense and yet it is cut to a specific shape and placed carefully. It could very well be the fragment of anything. The second tessera drastically limits the horizon of possibilities. The third gives the secret away. The fourth is the conclusion of the description.