Hello and welcome to jamaicainroma.com, (clicca qui per l'italiano)
This used to be a space in which Roberto Fassone, a close and loyal friend of mine, archived and showcased his works.
At the end of January 2017, though, vimeo took down his vimeo channel (1), because of repeated copyright infringement. The incriminated video was a documentation of a lip-synched concert (2) held in front of an inebriated crowd.
Roberto received this bad news just before starting an intense week, during which he had to perform several times. By that time, he didn't know that this piece of news would have influenced so radically his research.
The first performance he had to perform was hosted in an ancient anatomical theatre, decorated with statues and shaped like an amphitheater, made from fir wood with a coffer ceiling and used in the past for anatomy lectures and displays. Roberto, along with his former neighbor in Milan (a handsome young architect) described and enacted a series of routines to make a conceptual artwork (in the photo you can admire the change of dimension) (3). The entire lecture went pretty well, considering that he had the opportunity of performing it two other times in the past: once, in a white cube located deep in Oak City, along with a very tall and kind veterinarian (4), and the other time on the internet.
The second performance was more of a game. As a matter of fact Roberto invited some players to test a software he invented some years ago. This game, mysteriously called sibi, generates various and extravagant instructions to develop odd and bizarre artifacts and actions. And interestingly enough, a group of players solved the problem raised by the software by throwing a glass full of water and blueberry juice in Roberto's face (5), with the audience going wild and shouting "Performance! Performance!".
But the week had not ended yet. As a final task he had to recite the life of the artist formerly known as Prince, through a witty collage of his lyrics in a beautiful and well-known theatre. Purple lights were set up and the room was full of spectators. He started talking, people even laughed (the laughter is something Roberto desperately looks for but that hardly ever accomplishes), and suddenly a complete black out. Roberto was there, frozen, unable to talk, looking lost. He left the stage, came back, and froze again. Left again, took a paper from his bag and continued his monologue by reading (6). While half of the audience was in pain and sympathetic with the performer (his brother was afraid he would have gone "full Tenco"), the other half thought that everything was part of the play.
And they had their good reasons, considering that Roberto has this curious tendency to mistake reality with fiction. I remember him telling me some words he learned from a famous American entertainer, actor, writer and professional wrestler: "As for my not letting people in on the joke, there are times when real life is funnier than deliberate comedy. Therefore I try to create the illusion of a "real-life" situation or character. However, it must be believed totally; if I were to let people in on the joke, it wouldn't have that effect".
During a show in London, he kept telling the audience that he couldn't go on with the show as the video wasn't working (7), and along with his girlfriend (a malicious gossip says that she is the mastermind behind all of his art pieces) he replaced the video documentation of very well-known performances from the 60s and the 70s with surprinsingly similar videos found on Youtube, in which you could enjoy a kid throwing a tennis ball at the ceiling (8), a lemur falling from a tree and an old man caressing a wild coyote.
Most of his questionable ideas came from six main sources: weed, ice tea, sleep deprivation, a Croatian savior, a wild pack of wolves and a lovely Lithuanian/newyorker couple, with whom he published an endless book (9). Furthermore none of his best ideas see the light without a positive feedback from his brother Rinaldo, who's currently studying how a red plumber, a nice gorilla and a fire breathing yoga master from India can survive on an island. I rember also that, during a rainy November day, he totally felt in love with an idea suggested by a Florentine lawyer, who mistook an informational video for one of Roberto's work. Eventually Roberto appropriated that video and dedicated it to the lawyer (10).
Once, after not sleeping for three consecutive days Roberto decided to hire a lawyer to help him win a performance award (11). Cristina, that was the name of the lawyer, tried to persuade a jury, composed by a Spanish artist, an old maestro and an angry Swedish man to award Roberto's idea of hiring her. The snake was eating its tail but the jury wasn't pleased. The prize went to a fascinating story about aliens narrated by a talented Serbian magician.
Extremely disappointed for the result, Roberto decided to dedicate all of his time to his greatest passion, basketball. Not very tall, but gifted with a high sense of competition, he played for several years as a point guard in different teams, but slowly lost his shooting abilities. So, he tried to transform the act of throwing the ball into a contemporary oracle. Every shot he took he asked a question about the future: "Will I ever see the afterworld?" "Will humans ever live on other planets?". If the ball went in, the answer was yes, and if the ball hit the rim and bounced out the answer was no. Ball don't lie, they say (12).
His ideas were spreading in the air until they intercepted three shamans, wearing fancy hats and Moroccan perfumes. They looked deeply into his soul and invited him to host an exclusive event in their impressive riad. Seven collectors were invited to play a game of charades, during which Roberto impersonated a series of famous artworks from the last century: he pretended to be two clocks, a shark fin, a sad clown, a Japanese Priapus, an ice pusher, a contemporary Arthur, an appliances destroyer, etc... One charming collector won the game showing his great knowledge and bringing home a portrait of Roberto pretending to be a suicidal squirrel (13).
Some months later he discovered that for every living person in the world, there are thirteen dead persons. What would happen then if all the dead were alive? Could we fit? These questions found answers in the deep south, where with the help of Leone, a Czech giant, skilled seamstresses and three devoted fixers he gave concrete life to the statistic (14).
All those ideas came after his first ideas, which were based on the attempt at replicating some structures he has noticed in some masterpieces. Roberto was totally blown away by a room inhabited by zodiac signs, in which there were real twins, a real lion, a real scale and so on. He thought that he could give concrete life to a palindrome, a magical sequence of characters which reads the same backward or forward, such as "madam" or "kayak". He discovered four objects that in his native language (Italian) had this feature and eventually showcased two series of them one next to the other (15), in such a manner that you could look at that sculpture in both senses. He named this sequence "otto" (Italian for eight).
In that period he read a French book that featured no "E". In the whole text there was not a single "E". EtrE, Et, jE, lE, dE, allEr, absEnce: in the composition you couldn't find none of these words. A Spanish version featured no "A", while a Russian one erased all the "O"s. Roberto made his own version, developing a lecture about how fantasy was enhanced by the presence of limitations and boundaries, without ever using the letter "R" (16) (it's worth noting that Roberto and his father suffer from rhotacism, or as he would say, from "whotacism").
During one of his first days of school, a professor told him the story of a Taiwanese wizard, who used to spend entire years of his life accomplishing remarkable and almost impossible tasks such as: punching a time clock every hour on the hour for one year; spending one year outside, not entering buildings or shelter of any sort, including cars, trains, airplanes, boats, or tents; locking himself in a small wooden cage, furnished only with a wash basin, lights, a pail, and a single bed. Inspired by these actions Roberto did not say anything bad about anybody for three months. Eventually, supported by two enthusiastic ice-cream makers, he read all these horrible things he didn't say, but wrote down (17). In the meanwhile he tried to set up a zoo in his bag: there were one puma, three red bulls, four camels, a grey goose, seven lions and four pelikans (18).
Then, one day, actually during the worst day of the year, Roberto had finally the chance to present to the world his art collection. His collection is extremely bad, it assembles the worst artworks ever produced by 18 talented artists: you can find a cow heart of stone poorly made, a text that transforms you into art, bad videos about rollercoasters and snookers, a fascist piece and painting and sculptures made with no passion or dedication (19) (20).
If you had the bravery of reading thus far, I thank you for you attention. And if you are interested in more anecdotes I would suggest a book written for a future in which art will disappear (21); furthermore a funny Swiss man recently had the opportunity of having a word with Roberto, you might be interested .
Pauli Accola (b.1946) is an Austrian philosopher, professor and independent art critic.
Roberto Fassone (b.1986) is a basketball player. He is currently playing for Affrico Basket.
(2) All Blue Everything Mixtape, Macao, Milan, 2016
(3) Fox With The Sound Of Its Owl Shaking, Archiginnasio, Bologna, 2017 (ph. Silvia Bidoli)
(4) Fox With The Sound Of Its Owl Shaking, Mart, Rovereto, 2016 (ph. Jacopo Salvi)
(5) sibi [how to make a conceptual artwork], Castello di Rivoli, Turin, 2017
(6) Nothing Compares 2 Prince, Lavanderia A Vapore, Turin, 2017 (ph. Valeria Mancinelli)
(7) “I’m sorry…it doesn't work…I’m really sorry”, Nahmad Projects, London, 2016 (ph. Benedict Johnson)
(8) The Importance Of Being Context (in collaboration with Valeria Mancinelli), Quadriennale di Roma, Rome, 2016 (ph.Guildor Gallo)
(9) 35 Alternate Covers to this Book, printed by Friends Make Books, 2015 (ph. Joseph Miceli)
(10) Guido II, installation view, Moroso Concept, Udine, 2017 (ph. Riccardo Banfi)
(11) Untitled, Centrale Fies, Dro (Trento), 2015 (ph. Alessandro Sala)
(12) Ball Don't Lie, video still, 2015
(13) Charades, Fantaspazio, Milan, 2016 (ph. Roberto Marossi)
(14) 0 0, Lecce, 2016 (ph. Enrico Carpinello)
(15) Otto, installation view, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice, 2010 (ph. Riccardo Banfi)
(16) Lipogam, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, 2011 (ph. Riccardi Banfi)
(17) I''m such an asshole to make the performance in Bologna, since your brother lives there, Localedue, Bologna, 2016 (ph.Luca Ghedini)
(18) Zoo, variable dimension, Galleria Pananti, Florence, 2014 (ph. Martino Margheri)
(19)(20) Luce sempiterna della mente pura, (details), Placentia Arte, Piacenza, 2017 (ph.Marco Fava)
(21) If Art Were To Disappear Tomorrow, What Stories Would We Tell Our Kids? (in collaboration with Giovanna Manzotti), installation view, Futurdome, Milan