The exhibition comes with no title. The many titles I thought of, I ruled them all out. The one I was the most reluctant to dismiss was “pas de deux”: a term I especially cherish because it is used in ballet to indicate two dancers performing steps together. The image of the dancers moving in sync would have worked well to illustrate and express both the methodological and artistic reciprocity between Roberto Coda Zabetta and Carlo Valsecchi. 

Yet, it was clear right away that this vision was incomplete, unfinished. I was well aware that the “pas de deux” image raised misleading issues but, as I strived to let it go, it kept coming back, unrelentingly. I was stranded. This sense of distress came to an end when I realized that this metaphor had caused a short circuit in my stream of thought bringing back memories, images, and texts about dance from the last century. Modern and contemporary dance established itself as an autonomous art with its own identity. Dance as a way of thinking space, the body, humankind and their mutual exchanges. Dance as an anti-dualist art, as a transcendental experience that deconstructs the real by reaching the shifting grounds of being and making intelligible one of the infinite possible visions of the non-visible. 

In the 20th century, self-referential practice and its process of self- interrogation hold sway in both art and dance. Art becomes the search of its own essence. 

All this allowed to look at the new works by Coda Zabetta and Valsecchi, showed at Garage Soccol, from another point of view. 

Like dance, these works are atemporal and a-spatial as much as they evoke time and space. They bring up a fluid, undetermined temporality and speak about a space that cannot be defined because it is not made just of parallels and abscissae, but has circular, centrifugal, and centripetal movements that endow it with a strong three-dimensional connotation. 

Like a ballet coreography, these works are a sequence of windows opened on the movement and transformation of matter beyond matter; multiple and undefined visions of worlds and of the particles of possible worlds that bestow vision upon the non-visible. Italo Calvino’s words on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, from his Six Memos for the Next Millennium, come to my mind: “the knowledge of the world tends to dissolve the solidity of the world”.

In the same way as technical mastery is, for a dancer, just a means that must be transcended to communicate beyond the body, in these works technique is applied in the most rigorous way and pushed to its limits until it fades aways. The vision evoked in the mental space, forced by the subtractive process, eventually reveals its naturalness beneath the gestural laboriousness. 

Through their subtractive process, Roberto Coda Zabetta and Carlo Valsecchi make their language lighter and create space. They leave room for something open to happen. They do not seek the presence but the atmosphere, and the manifold occasions that convene and compete therein. 

Paola Clerico



Dear Paola, 

We spoke before about the large scale work called Flakturm I’m working on – the reconstruction of the Friedrichshain ‘flakturm’ destroyed in Berlin at the end of World War II . This was a gun tower where a series of important paintings had been moved from the Kaiser Friedrich Museum for safekeeping. The collection, documented in a series of 417 black and white photos, was destroyed in a fire in May 1945 during bombings by the allied forces. All the paintings were destroyed. I have been using the photos to make a ‘compressed’ version of the tower and it’s collection. 

The final work will be monumental in proportions – 16 three metre wide oil canvases supported by a wooden scaffolding structure to make an octagonal tower. There are several stages of preparatory drawings, collages and sculptures through which I have been developing the paintings, and I think it would be interesting to work together and present the project at this point in its evolution. The collages have an interesting dimension to them – you feel the flatness of the illusion, as well as the sense of the object in the layering of the paper. They are preparatory works but have certain qualities not present in the final works, so an interesting introduction to the project. 

To make the process clear: 

I have archived the original photos into categories of subject matter and composition, then reassembled them into collages. These collages conserve aspects of the original works while obfuscating the representation within the images. They are subsequently translated into sculptural dioramas from which the large format works derive. 

The final result will be both imposing and intimate. The structure acts as a monument to the destruction of the original masterpieces while the function of the architectural form is to intensify the psychological effect of the works by physically immersing the viewer within the illusionary potential of the work. 

As you know my work often develops on the idea of readdressing images that no longer exist in their original state, but that have been documented visually or orally. I think it would be great to work together in presenting the process involved in this kind of research, where the relation between original and copy is at its rawest, as a prologue to the final work. 

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.