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Anna Pontel, Odologia dei clasti, 2017
gypsum, clay, river water, vials
variable dimensions
courtesy of the artist

Anna Pontel

Gypsum, clay and river water. With these elements Anna Pontel moulded her own claps tal Tiliment (Friulian for boulders from the Tagliamento river), the seven menhir sculptures at the heart of the installation Odologia dei clasti (Hodology of the clasts, 2017). Pontel’s original work has been specifically realized for this year’s exhibit, an occasion that has enabled the Friulian artist to explore new research paths.
“Hodology” – from the ancient Greek “ὁδός” (hodós) path, way – indicates the itinerary. “Clast” – from the ancient Greek “κλαστός” (klastós) broken, severed, fragmented – is the scientific name for the pebbles and rocks of a river. Menhirs become symbols of wandering and testify to the journey that the artist underwent, from the spring down to the mouth of the river Tagliamento – which flows through San Vito – searching for either scenographic or historically significant locations. Each stop-over was an opportunity for Pontel to draw some water from the river and, once stored into vials, to employ it in order to give her pseudo-rocky concretions a shape. These seven menhir sculptures are arranged from the most pointed, unrefined and multifaceted, to the most polished and rounded-off, so as to show an evolution which has already taken place. The claps at the bottom of the riverbed mould each other by means of reciprocal erosion. In the same way, the identity of each one of us, in the interrelationship with others, rounds its own edges.

For a moment Pontel sets aside disembodied garments, off-scale rigid accessories, supple sculptures, paroxysmal decorations and the other artefacts typical of her art, which are ludic and provocative in nature. The artist also puts wires, fabrics, crochet hooks and needles aside. However, the theme of garment as an empty envelope that needs to be filled, together with the creative process through which the final outcome can be attained, are still present. Indeed, the menhirs are derived by pouring a soft mixture into modelled cardboard moulds (which are not modular), obtained thanks to Pontel’s traditional constructive method of the “multi-faceted crystal”. Then, the artist clearly works according to a sartorial mindset, “tailoring” with craftsmanship her own custom-made contribution for the exhibit.

Above all, Anna Pontel cannot help questioning herself and all of us on a subject of special interest to her, namely the void intended as an interpretative space left to the visitor. The clasts, which are themselves solid, are interspersed at a regular distance thus leaving the visitor to imagine the gap between one rock and the next, to invent the development of a narrative between them, and to transpose and compare it to various levels of individual and relational change of identity.