Books

Year 1986
Text by Rolf Dittmar

Books take central stage in the life and work of Pino Poggi. His relationship to books is a special one. Many artists keep diaries and/or sketchbooks: diaries in which they record important events or ideas chronologically and sketchbooks where they make the groundwork for their creations or events and which they use to develop their works. Some artists write diaries and sketchbooks simultaneously, others use a mixed form of both. Poggi also kept a diary from 1964 to 1979: the Diario is a three-part paravent made of 180 x 59 cm “screens”, which he progressively collaged with pictures, texts and notes. This “diario” is distinguished from other diaries not as much by the lack of an exact dating of events but by the impossibility of even remotely reconstructing their sequence. Instead of a succession of many pages which determine the chronology of events in a diary, the juxtaposition of events takes place on large surfaces. Only the event itself is important, it is irrelevant for Poggi when it happened. The succession of events also does not matter to him. The traditional diary bothers him because the events are isolated by the sequence of the pages. Opening a book limits the view of the individual event by excluding the past recorded on the preceding pages as well as the future recorded on the pages which follow. It is important for Pino Poggi to confront what he is experiencing today with the wholeness of what moved him yesterday, the day before or years ago. The Diario is not only an “open” diary delivering an overall view of the world of the artist’s experience; it also allows Poggi to express the value of experiences through spatial association with other experiences.

Poggi realised a similar idea in 1971 in C’era una Volta (Once upon a time): the work is a look at the past from the present on the basis of magazine excerpts with the help of a leporello, which can be pulled apart into a band 26 meters long. The succession of the past becomes the juxtaposition of the present. In the years between 1965 and 1973, Poggi created a series of artist’s books each one concerned with a particular, moving subject. Poggi calls them concept books (Libri concettuali), because for him, the project is already completed through the realisation of the book. The correct term would be “Project books”: Their matter is a project for concrete realization, the book provides its justification and proposes solutions. Cultur’ruralita deals with the adaptation of architecture to the landscape; Lettura abitabile (Habitable Reading) develops furniture in form of letters, Pedagogia deals with new games for children and Cultur’ruralita 2 with the disappearance of the tree from the human environment. Real concept books, on the other hand, are Mi consumo and Io mi consumo (both written in 1974). In Mi consumo (I Consume Myself) a pencil consumes itself through the transcription of the words “mi consumo” on the pages of the book until it becomes a no longer usable stump (stuck at the end of the last chapter). In Io mi consumo (I Consume Myself) the same process takes place, but here there is as a trace of the pencil wood produced while sharpening which is stored in the spine of the book. In addition to the project books, the artist has been creating book objects since 1968. The book is withdrawn from the reader as a Book, becoming the instrument for the realization of a particular idea. Thus, in Un archivio per libri come si deve (A Proper Book Archive), old books of various formats are locked in a cage made of flat iron bands from which they can no longer be released; although the lock is present, it has gone to rust, it is destroyed and welded to the cage. The book sculptures (Libri Sculture) are even more important. These are readable (!) books in the form of sculptures, the sides of which are made of wooden panels; their binding consists of a grid-like iron-plastic, which also performs the function of a bookrest. With his Libri sculture, Poggi wants to overcome the conventional consumer attitude of the reader who is used to devouring a maximum of reading material with a minimum of effort. Leafing through the individual wooden panels is tedious, requiring effort and skill; Text and illustrations are reduced to a minimum. The Libri sculture are Poggi-specific expressions of his personal understanding of art. For him, art is a creative process, not necessarily limited to the artist himself, but a process triggered by him, which extends itself to the observer and involves him in productive participation.

Download text (pdf): German

Rolf Dittmar: Libri. Edizione Genova, 1979