Real or false? Did these shows really exist? Syxty Sorriso & Altre Storie is the first volume dedicated to Antonio Syxty’s work as performance artist and director on the Milanese alternative scene, replete with images, drawings and texts from his archive. Embedded in the underground creativity of Milan’s only basement-theatre – the OutOff, a hotbed of experimentation in the late 1970s and early 1980s – Syxty was one of the most electrifying exponents of the so-called Italian New Spectacularity, a theatre that was defined as metropolitan, fast, catchy, post-ideological yet sentimental. The book is drawn from the printed archive of over 25 performances made between 1978 and 1982, and consists of drawings, collages, photographs and texts produced and collected by the artist over this time – yet the volume’s overview remains consciously incomplete. The pages chart and internal stream made of an alternation of full and empty spaces, where we simultaneously find aestheticism and concept. The opening is given by the unique result that Syxty extracts from the real; dozens of pages unfold the results of his creative process, by the end of which we are called to crash into the truthful falsity of flawlessly reproduced documents and of a photo-performative repertoire of the unhappened. The volume’s ongoing open enigma is crowned by its conclusion: a broken list of exclusively textual scenes, hyperoxygenated atmospheres to be completed at our discretion, fragments held together by a thin thread that is black, the book’s only colour. The book contains three previously unpublished critical interventions by Flora Pitrolo, Joe Kelleher and Alessandro Mendini.
“The figure of Antonio Syxty was that of a hypersensitive artist in the broad sense: this was due to his interdisciplinary attitude as it was to his beautiful body, able to become presence and artwork in itself, simply by how he occupied space. His behavior was elusive and his sense of mobility was continuous, and these two unusual attitudes allowed him to jumble the cards, to distort his character’s identity, to continuously close down a reading of his work. And I used to like to play with this slightly tragic character, who seemed to be made of a substance as mobile and air– like as blown glass: like an elusive fluid, like quicksilver, impossible to analyse as static matter, impossible to fix. And so for me, his thousands of facets make Syxty a mysterious artist, almost unknowable. Am I talking to the real Syxty or the false one? To the authentic one, to the frivolous one, or to the fake one? Is it his real face or is it a Seventeenth–century copy of his face? This slightly sadistic game—which fascinated me during the time of my radical research—still returns whenever Syxty slips around me. Is he a former post–modern, as I am myself? Will I ever get to know him? And now, now that the radical is only a memory and maybe also a new mirage, what possible fixedness can Syxty’s mask have, if—that is—his lookalike really exists?”