Alessandra Spranzi at IUNO – Artforum International

The egg is the enigmatic object par excellence, perfect in its form as an incubator of life. Piero della Francesca suspended an egg over the head of his Brera Madonna (1472–74), capturing within it a mystery that would later return in the surreal atmospheres of René Magritte and Salvador Dalí.

Les yeux les oeufs les jeux (Eyes Eggs Games, 2022), the image on the invitation for Alessandra Spranzi’s first solo exhibition in Rome, positions itself along these lines: a photo-engraved aluminum plate depicts a well-groomed adolescent boy wearing a slightly oversize jacket. He holds out his hands, above which two eggs seem to float. The boy’s gaze, somewhere between satisfied and conspiratorial, holds the viewer. Is this reality or an illusion? The visual dilemma recalls Roland Barthes’s observation regarding “that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead.”

The protagonists of the gelatin silver prints on view in the central room are familiar objects, decontextualized and isolated in a theatrically spectacular light. In Zuf (piatto su fondo nero) (Zuf [plate against black background]), 2021, a plate levitates, its cracked edge resewn with metal wire, as is the tradition in Italy. In Tovaglia sospesa (L’insieme è nero) (Suspended tablecloth [The entirety is black], 2017), Spranzi executes a similar sleight of hand with a linen sheet, while in the single color photograph Sedia rovesciata 1 (L’insieme è nero) (Overturned chair 1 [The entirety is black], 2020), Spranzi renders a wooden chair aesthetically appealing if nonfunctional. On the floor, an old cathode-ray-tube television features the video Lampadari (Chandeliers, 2022). The imperceptible movement of lightbulbs suspended from a summer gazebo seems to introduce into the exhibition an élan vital, that breath of life once described by Henri Bergson.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

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