Peggy Franck and Alessandra Spranzi “Atto Primo: Milano” Arcade at CFAlive, Milan — Mousse Magazine and Publishing

This exhibition started to exist as an idea several years ago, and then was the subject of many zoom calls, when the zoom calls were a pretty new way but also the only one available to actually meet people.

I imagine Alessandra Spranzi and Peggy Franck looking at each other through the screen of the computer, each in their own studio, one in Milan, the other in Amsterdam, busily discussing something that at that stage was nothing more than the desire of a show. Outside the cites were calm, and still, and empty. Time flew at a very different speed and made space for musing over possibilities. Sometimes the gallerist, Christian Mooney, would join the meeting, and ultimately it was a good idea, since the exhibition is now a reality.

Artists, I think, have a very distinct way of looking at each other’s work, of reaching out to each other. It is something, I guess, that goes beyond the correspondences that may occur when comparing two works and has more to deal with sharing a similar attitude, despite medium, approaches, formalisations. Take the two of them: Alessandra Spranzi has roamed books and magazines over the years to find images that she would re-print with traditional, obsolete techniques, or enlarge and re-photograph, or cut and paste onto another found image creating new compositions. She also made photographs herself, even though the photographic image is at the core of her research, I would not call her a photographer. She brings to life pictures that otherwise would lose meaning and that are often marginal, or functional, and hide their magic until she reveals it.

Peggy Franck is concerned with painting even when she uses photography. Painting is not merely in the use of brushstrokes, colour and canvas; it is a way of organising the visual into a specific composition. Layers of opaque, shiny, transparent, translucent materials, folded or rolled objects, sprayed and tinted walls, arranged in order to form an installation that, once photographed, become a surface which may be photographed again.

I wasn’t aware Peggy Franck and Alessandra Spranzi knew each other, let alone that they share this project, but when I heard of it first from one and then from the other, in casual conversations and at about the same time, I thought it really made sense. Accompanying the exhibition is a poster that functions as a trace of their dialogue, where the works appear juxtaposed. The spacing and the size of the images suggests delicate correspondences between what, despite belonging to the same medium (they both selected photographs for the occasion),  at first sight appears very different. An acrobat walking on the wire, a found photo displayed in Spranzi’s recent solo show is in conversation with a golden dancer (who is the artist herself) holding a looped metal stick, in a set (which is her studio) photographed by Franck (which incidentally makes me wonder if the acrobat too, is a disguised self-portrait). Two eggs levitate on the hands of a boy by effect of printing the negative of a photograph, next to it a glossy print of a whirl of blue paint at the centre of the picture. Chairs resting onto a table, a pile of dishes held in balance on a hand, oranges randomly grouped, also on a table, are kept together by a photograph; painterly gestures on golden paper hung with metal clips on the studio wall. A similar energy circulates among these works, sets them in motion, make them appear as temporary arrangements that may—or actually will—dissolve, change, and eventually reappear in a new configuration. A circularity that is enhanced by reoccurring forms.Circling. Circles. Cirque; a domestic magic. This movement is typical of their individual practice, bringing to the exhibition space, the studio —and by extension, the house—a place of experiments and almost invisible events that can be surprising and wonderful, a place that encourages transformation and change, where objects and motifs are free to reinvent themselves, a photograph (an installation, a painting) can be re-assembled, re-arranged, altered, cut, pasted, re-used or simply find a new relation with other works as part of a new series. And it certainly resonates in the dialogue between the two artists; bringing together things, that belong together, to spark.

—Cecilia Canziani, Rome, 28.02.24

Arcade at CFAlive, Milan
until April 5, 2024


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