Reviews » Francesca Brandes

increase text sizedecrease text sizeprintrecommend this page to a friend

Memory map

Françoise Calcagno’s on-going personal memory map project, in progress for several years now, appears recursive and structured, just like the explanation of DNA. The use of the idea beloved of mathematicians is no coincidence: when there is a well defined procedure to solve a problem, it is usually said that the problem is recursive or algorithmic.

The calculation must be finite, even if the problem is infinite (and the space the artist passes through, inside and outside us, is so infinite as to appear symbolic, paradigmatic and thus paradoxically conceivable…). The other meaning of the term ‘recursion’ is characterised by the inclusion of a procedure within itself: a bit like imagining the photograph of a man holding a photograph of himself holding a photograph of himself etc. The idea is like Chinese boxes, or, indeed the genetic code contained within each cell of the body. Sometimes the relationship between the single elements and the whole picture is much more intricate and creates different layers, different levels of consciousness: this less palpable, but fascinating material recursion, is perhaps the true face of Françoise’s creative intelligence, her modus operandi. Her burning perception sets out a stratification of clues, each laid one upon the other, ordered, but at the same time independent, original, mutually indifferent. A mass of unstable hierarchies, battered by tempests that misshape them. A voyage in which the coordinates continuously mutate. Françoise’s recursion weaves an intense personal art of memory. She follows a memory with her hands, into the places where time sows itself, and with her hands works on the journey, more in removal than in placing. The exploration is both painful and soothing at the same time; all carved upon the surface in tiny scars, the work follows the rhythm of the seasons and of breathing: the white of a snowy winter, empty spaces of forgetfulness, the flames of summer blazes that materialise smells. The past feeds on life, and in turn, feeds the present with unmediated sweetness: all the unsaid, the omitted, all that remains in the seed and doesn’t blossom, this resounds today in Calcagno’s work. Her memory is a firefly that lights up, a domestic echo that resounds inside the temples. Rarely do I meet an artist in whom the essence of meaning – which is the story of affection, of lucky salvagings, history above all, therefore with precise organic connotations – conjugates with equal force in the harmonic practice of doing, in the knowing (and measured) use of techniques and materials. A sort of algorithm of entropy, a colour that thinks. For me, a huge gift, for which I am grateful.

Francesca Brandes