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Dada Rosso
  From the Stampa di Torino 07.06.02


A unique feature characterises our times, which is entirely new with respect to any previous experience of humanity. For the first time, we are producing much more than we consume. For the first time, the sheer volume of goods on the market is so huge that, in order to make way for more, they must not be consumed completely or, indeed, at all. Such objects, with their life often intact, sometimes residual, end up in flee markets, stock warehouses and refuse bins. It is referred to as “necessary waste”, according to the unbending logic of production. For many, it is the ultimate outcome of our wealth. But it is also an enormous reserve of materials capable of generating further, eccentric forms of poetic expression. Over-production has produced a new art, perhaps the most modern and up-to-date form, the art of recycling. It is the task of artists, those creative minds able to read alternative suggestions into these leftovers, to transform waste materials into new artefacts.
Beyond the rhetorical claims to avant-garde status, this is the ultimate explanation for the iconoclastic and creative urge that led Marcel Ducamp to turn a urinal up-side-down, declaring it to be a work of art. It is also the reason why the exploratory effort of Daniel Spoerri, whose coffee pots and buttons picked up at the Saint Ouen flee-market in Paris create dreamlike compositions, defies the banal definition of Neo-Dadaist. This would label him as a mere mannerist re-evoking the creative behaviours of the early 20th century. Spoerri, like Tinguely, Vostell and many others, are none other than the continuers of a language which will go on evolving, as the work of Perugino evolved, the latter being not only a successor but a living consequence of the oil painting introduced by Van Eyck fifty years before. This is also the case of Patrizia Medail.
Patrizia Medail sets out to surpass Penelope. From her mythical Greek ancestor she inherits the female passion for manual weaves and fabrics. She inherits the infinite patience required for such work. But she does not await the return of Ulysses. She applies her creative patience to recycling.
She embarked upon this work by chance, to break the monotony of attending to family affairs, a little like Penelope. By actually doing the work, she discovered her own technique, allowing her to give shape to her poetic vision. She collects oriental fabrics and robes, local hangings and clothes, materials so consumed by time as to be destined for the rag merchant, artefacts imbued with historical texture and long-forgotten craftsmanship. She uses endless lengths of antiquated braidings and trimmings, which no upholsterer would deem adaptable to modern tastes, disassembling these passemanterie to attain a fluffy material to which her hands give form. She finds woollen or cotton-weave mattresses, in wonderful old-fashioned colours, capable of yielding unexpected backgrounds. By playfully combining her textiles to fit her imaginative vision, Patrizia Medail breathes life into an entire cosmos that is surreal or, better still, fabulously extra-real, depicting vases with metaphysical flowers, real animals in unexpected settings or, as here, animals attired as earthly potentates. They are like the creations of an unlikely Hesiod or La Fontaine, in a genetically modified and post-atomic vein, which blend the melancholy of children’s soft toys, tender and cruel as infancy itself, with a keen but also metaphorical awareness of today’s reality, infused with drama, irony and, always, an intense joie de vivre.

Philippe Daverio, art historian and lecturer at the Politecnico of Milan and Palermo University, is former Councillor for Culture of Milan. He directs and presents the cultural and arts review “Passepartout”, broadcast by Italian Television Channel 3, RAI.USAy and Sky Channel, with an audience share of millions of viewers.

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Antonella Ferraro
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Vittoria Coen, art critic
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