Lara Favaretto – Vanishing Point (2011)


Amamiya and Sasayama, Bobby and Laura, Harold and Maude, Kelly and Griff, Maria and Felix, Shirley and Cyril, Stephanie and Sabrina. This was the title of the installation that Lara Favaretto (Treviso, 1973, lives and works in Turin) created for the Sharjah Biennale in 2009. The work consists of brightly coloured carwash brushes, mounted on a metal plate. Grouped in pairs, life-size, in pink, green, blue and orange, the brushes automatically revolve at varying speeds. Even without the names, they look like characters in a visual spectacle. However, the cheerful nature of the installation has a flip side: the brushes wear down the metal plates to which they are attached, thereby hastening their own demise.


Favaretto calls her machines and sculptures Macchine del divertimento (fun machines), an appropriate name that refers not only to their non-productive character, but also to their carnival-like qualities. Playfully, she brings to life the magical fantasy characterising this celebration in which life is turned upside down and the mundane is briefly forgotten. And yet her work borders on tragicomedy, because of the impermanent nature of the mechanism in the work mentioned above, or because of the materials she uses, such as confetti. Solo se sei mago (Only if you are the magician, 2006), for example, consists of a cube of white confetti, which loses part of its shape with every breath of wind. The work, which has a minimalist appearance at first, slowly erodes and spreads throughout the space. The celebratory associations of the confetti are linked to a modern-day memento mori. Favaretto appears to be saying that her work is finite, as is her influence on that work as an artist.


The ambiguity of the magical juxtaposed with notions of decay and eventual disappearance are also key features of the work that Favaretto has made for Lustwarande ‘11. As seen by Favaretto, De Oude Warande becomes a place that is full of traces of a lost past. She has distributed five concrete sculptures in a less trodden part of the park, all of which bear the imprint of a human body: two elbows appear to have been resting on a block, while elsewhere someone seems to have leant back for a rest, or randomly placed his hands on the block. The work alludes to the tradition of Arte Povera and to artists such as Giuseppe Penone, who, for example, hugged a tree in 1968 and marked his outline with wire. As the tree grew, Penone’s body became encapsulated within it, like a scar. The absence of the human body is shown by the traces left behind and, in the case of Favaretto, these traces are negative space. The human absence creates the impression of a ruin. Just as ruins are remnants whose totality can only be present in the virtual, the negative space forms the suggestion of a human presence. For Lustwarande ‘11, rather than focusing on the eventual decay usually produced in Favaretto’s work, the artist has placed disappearance itself on a pedestal.


Laurie Cluitmans / translation Laura Watkinson