FAVARETTO, Lara; Gummo IV
Working predominantly in sculpture, Italian artist Lara Favaretto constructs tragicomic situations that reveal the absurdity and pathos of everyday life and commonplace objects. Favaretto calls her art works macchine del divertimento (fun machines) — a description that points to their often carnival-esque character and, moreover, to their unabashed embrace of irrationality and non-productivity. Found objects, usually of a standard-issue type, often sit at the centre of her art works: from an art-historical perspective, Favaretto’s practice can be understood in the context of Dada’s irreverent spirit. They touch on the humour and playfulness of Fluxus, and the influence of Arte Povera (the Italian art movement associated with the artist’s home town of Turin) is also evident, particularly in her embrace of an open-ended, experimental working method.
Disrupting the conventional order of things, Favaretto transforms useful, functional items into impractical but strangely engaging ones. Gummo IV comprises five carwash brushes, each in a different shade of blue and vertically attached to a metal slab. A motor causes them to spin frenetically at irregular intervals. In action, the work creates a beguiling tonal composition evocative of mid-twentieth-century colour field painting. In a state of rest, on the other hand, it resembles a group of furry, luridly coloured bodies. Gummo IV forms part of an ongoing body of work employing car-wash brushes in different colours and configurations. The works have so far been included in a number of prestigious international exhibitions, such as Art Basel in 2007 and the Turin Triennale and Sharjah Biennial 9, both in 2009.
Characteristic of Favaretto’s oeuvre, Gummo IV is based on a Duchampian strategy of displacement, whereby found objects are removed from their usual contexts and placed in a decidedly inappropriate one. For example, in her I Poveri Sono Matti (The Poor are Mad) 2004 a caravan is suspended from a crane. In Gummo IV, car-wash brushes appear in an art gallery. This displacement radically isolates the found object, emphasising its specific material and formal qualities, and results in that which was once familiar suddenly appearing foreign, absurd and even ridiculous. Favaretto animates these objects in a way that strips them of their intended function and imbues them instead with a sense of magic, fantasy and play.
Nicholas Chambers, Artlines 2-2012, p.42.