Fabrizio Albertini – Radici
WORDS BY ALICE ZOO
“Radici is a symbolic journey” explains Fabrizio Albertini of his project. “A journey that anyone could - and I hope they do - interpret as their own.”
Radici - meaning “roots” in Albertini’s native Italian - is a neat, unnerving series of images. Working with both colour and black and white, in a strikingly graphic visual approach that at first feels resistant to interpretation, the series is united by a signature crispness of vision: the images are bold and defined, emphatic even where they seem designed to confuse or confound.
Albertini adopts a kind of dream logic throughout the series, with a playful approach to scale that moves rapidly from intimate close-up (the glistening nape of a neck, a snake coiled into itself) to pulled-back environmental imagery. Just as we begin to feel dislocated from our usual mode of vision, Albertini casts down the rope of a familiar landscape and we start to find our footing, only to lose it again. A car’s pedals rise up, totemic and alien - how did he get his camera there? - later, another car appears, this time with its brake light melting foamily away. As in a dream, our attention is pulled dizzyingly from one strange image to the next, familiarity shimmering and evaporating with each new frame.
Of course, the project deals not only with the simple investigation of garden roots, but with Albertini’s own psychological or biological roots: those born of the landscape, of a developing psychology. In this way, the impersonal, gnomic nature of the imagery is apt: it is a visual piecing-together of half-remembered fragments, reinterpreted in the present. Albertini describes an unconscious, intuitive approach to shooting the work, which began to find narrative order towards the end of the process: “an intellectualisation, a reading, of something that was expressed purely through the gaze.”
The viewer is buoyed along by a kind of visual rhyme that links one image with the next without ever settling into a predictable rhythm. A tree bursting with apples becomes a face flecked with multi-coloured lights; an ice-covered cliff face, when followed by a fragile lace curtain, is newly delicate. By the time a portrait arises with its facial features smeared away, new associative networks have begun to flourish, the series feeding on itself hungrily enough that effacement can seem as logical and ordinary, in Albertini’s world, as a plant, or a tree, or a brick wall. Any attempt to parse meaning from the connections (beyond an internal, self-referential meaning of resonance or discord), though, is quickly frustrated. The visual is the sustaining force, vital and blunt, with the memories the images spring from - or their possible interpretations - hanging just out of reach.
“Radici is a project that was born as a self-analysis and, like with any self-analysis, it is not a theorem and there are no solutions. It’s just a story,” Albertini describes. But by the end of the series, the basis for Albertini’s story - the simple origins from which it starts - has been scrambled, rendered unreadable. The artist’s exploration of roots, and the ways they stay in the ground, dissolves.