Salad of Fossils

Luca Trevisani

25.05 - 31.10.2024

I have long been fascinated by the Addaura caves and their enigmatic images. This complex of three natural caves, located on the northeastern side of Mount Pellegrino in Palermo, houses rock engravings dating from the late Epigravettian to the Mesolithic. These engravings, created around fourteen thousand years ago, are the earliest known examples of representations of rituals, feasts, and human society. Whether they depict apotropaic rites, erotic shamanism, or historical fabrications, it hardly matters: they are a molecular mystery, a cartography of the desire to be human, a collective future to be remembered.

The images of the Addaura, as ancient as Noah or as modern as Matisse plagiarisms, speak of our relationship with the environment and society. They force us to think on a different temporal scale, analyzing our concept of future and progress.

Since 1997, the caves have been closed to the public, so I decided to reproduce the engravings at life-size, like enormous postcards to be carried around, to give them legs and wings. I replicated them using cyanotype prints, an old pre-industrial photographic process, developed with simple chemical reactions, because chemistry is perhaps the only link between us and these ancestors. The Addaura caves present us with images outside of history, devoid of a visual tradition to guide us. Without literature or clues, I chose to interrogate these ghosts by replicating them countless times.

Images of nature, political ideas formulated by designers, thinkers, architects, and artists are tattooed onto fossilized leaves. For years, I have been printing political visions related to nature on dried leaves, but now this work takes on a new temporal dimension: imprinting these fantasies and flourishes on leaves 320 million years old is a desperate cry, a subtle and perverse seductive trap. These fragments become part of a contemporary wunderkammer, a collection that showcases our perceptual ignorance. The temporal distance acts like a reversed telescope, relativizing our present concerns and allowing us to understand ourselves beyond the confines of our daily context.

"Fossil Salad" is a publication born from the same idea of accumulation and material work, of needing to chew over something to understand it, or perhaps to feel it, with the mind and senses. It is an atlas, a visual journey within a personal and arbitrary collection of artworks, events, situations, and gestures related to the fossil, not understood here as an object, but as the surprise generated by its encounter, as the break from conventions it embodies. Clusters of spasmodic, dystopian, and joyful stimuli. As with the Addaura caves, this theory of the fossil also fractures our notion of spacetime continuity, as reassuring as it is deceptive. "Fossil Salad" does not tell a geological story, but a series of chronological incidents, of rips in time, of bodies suspended in history. It is a collection of bold cultural gestures, a compilation of interdisciplinary surprises, joyful, disobedient, and sometimes even rude intrusions; because art is not a natural and conciliatory space, but an open-air laboratory where alternative forms are invented and tested to contemplate our material and spiritual life. "Fossil Salad" is, in every sense, a programmatic manifesto, a declaration of poetics by Luca Trevisani in the guise of a tutorial, a recipe book, a set of instructions in the form of figurines.

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