Curated by: Elena Volpato
The GAM of Turin is happy to present the exhibition dedicated to Vincenzo Agnetti (Milan, 1926 - 1981), the fifth appointment of the exhibition cycle born from the collaboration between the Historical Archives of the Venice Biennale and the Video Library and aimed at witnessing the initial season of the video of an Italian artist between the Sixties and Seventies.
Through a few, indispensable works, the exhibition addresses a central aspect of Agnetti's work: the substitution between word and number as the ultimate degree of critical analysis and zeroing of language. The theme emerges in his works starting in 1968 with the creation of the Drugged Machine, a calculator that translates the numbers typed into sequences of letters that combine without any meaning.
One of the most well-known sentences of fulminating but paradoxical clarity that Agnetti has given us states: One word is as good as another but they all tend towards ambiguity. On the way to the zeroing of any structured cultural system, the next step can only be the verification of an even more radical hypothesis: one code is as good as another but no one conveys meanings. The word is ambiguous and every translation exercise is proof of this. And numbers, which commonly appear to us as a universal alphabet and as elements of an exact language, appear in Agnetti's work as empty of any ability to communicate meanings, but offer themselves as supports for the intonation of the voice.
In the exhibition, a work from the Assiomi series, created in 1969, shows underneath a sequence of inverted letters raised to different numerical values, an engraved sentence: When words are raised to numbers, numbers are worth words. The one and the other code, letters and numbers, are in a position of symmetrical mirroring, visual and conceptual. If there is a promise of intensity, a hint of forgotten foundation, it can only be found in the space between them, in that compact black of Bakelite that seems to recede in time, as if it wanted to escape the function of supporting the unstable white signs. The black that occupies the center and the largest extension of the work is one of the many forms of that void around which all the intelligence of Agnetti's work gathers. A void born from the desired collapse of all languages and yet open to the search for something, perhaps an echo, a resounding rumble that has to do with the interiority of meaning and not with the formulation of a meaning.