Marco Guenzi is explicitly tackling the contradictions, the dramas and the absurdities of our contemporary world. We are afflicted from all directions by news, events, behaviors, advertising and whatnot. But how to react to this deluge of information without turning our head away in order to not see or without getting caught up by anguish or by depressive helplessness?
Marco Guenzi, artist, economist, lecturer and web designer, chooses to react through bitter, paradoxical and disorienting laughter. His images zoom in deeply and simultaneously expand outwards starting from some of the most pressing problems of our complex and interconnected time where new political, economic, social, technological and cultural issues overlap continuously.
He is putting forth work that analyses our times, purposefully exposing contradictions. He creates images that feed on a pop and hyper-colored aesthetic and are based on demystifying humor. Marco Guenzi contrasts the affirmative, one-way and super-obvious photographs that are omnipresent on the web with images capable of disturbing and raising doubts without conceptualizing beyond comprehension.
Imagination underlying his oeuvres commits us to an extremely serious game, where laughter becomes an unbearable paradox for the authoritative and self-assured reason. “The comic is a contradiction” – wrote Kierkegaard. “Laughter is a leap from possible to impossible and from impossible to possible” – closely continues Bataille. The tragicomic humor, inasmuch serious negation of seriousness, indeed opens the world to a double and paradoxical thought that shakes our confidence and drags us into making new ethical considerations.
Joachim Schmid, well-known artist, declared in 1989 (the 150th anniversary of the invention of photography): “No new photographs until all the old ones have been used.” Well – in tune with that statement - Marco Guenzi too is not shooting any new image. Nevertheless, unlike Schmid or Erik Kessel, he is not gathering old abandoned pictures or is he reutilizing pictures from family albums photos. He is not interested in vernacular photography, or in cataloguing. His attention is directed to the present and not in “reactivating” a more or less distant past. Aren’t we constantly overwhelmed by constant wave of images? So Marco, in tune with our age, enters this flood of images, collecting and carefully re-assembling them (thanks to complex interventions using modern digital instruments). He does this to create a peculiar composition, in which photographs, titles, and hidden sentences (to be closely and thoroughly read) succeed in putting in relation contrasting and strident realities.
The Dadaist artists of photomontage, John Heartfield, Raoul Hausmann and Hannah Höch are his masters. They too put together the images they took from illustrated newspapers and recent events articles, in a subversive and disorienting way. In a more modern manner, Marco begins from the web and builds works full of multi-meaning and temporal details to be looked into, in which images and texts play together so as to create a paradoxical device spreading in multiple directions. He is no longer interested in upsetting the small minded middle class (which is disappearing). He is instead offering works that have the explicit objective of making you think. His images bear the heavy burden of our apprehensions, and reverse them by means of a uncanny laugh, opening us up to more creative meaning, to an act of thinking beyond what is already known.
In this project that is very much “in progress” (I plan on explicitly continuing it over the years) I want to lend my artist eye to the listening of the contemporary world. This world is complex, wide, intricate and full of contradictions that stand out every day due to the development of new political, social, economic, technological and cultural situations. It represents a global reality marked by an inflamed paroxysm, that often paralyses the individual motionless.
My work fits within this context. My aim is not to denounce the issues that afflict our society but to create in the viewer a sense of irrational displacement, which is perhaps the only way to comprehend (in its etymological meaning) such an extended and fragmented world.
I felt that instrument of paradox, that stems a long time ago from the Greek culture (who does not remember Zeno's story of the hare and the turtle?), would be a suitable way to express such a subject. A paradox deconstructs an issue and then recomposes it according to a different and unusual perspective, putting contrasting and often strident realities in relation to one another. These realities, that “have nothing to do with each other” and often never meet, are meant to create in the audience controversial reactions. I am explicitly contrasting on one hand an ironic amusement (“It looks so funny!”), with a sense of annoyance (“I do not want to see such different things going together!”). The displacement effect of the paradox originates from the fact that it has necessarily to be solved, either in a direction or the other. The solution will depend on the personal circumstances of the viewer but this takes some time.
Truly due to the fact that that paradox has such a complex valence, my work does not intend neither to offend, nor to entertain, nor to shock, nor to reveal hidden meanings (paradox is by itself illogical - though it can contain a hidden kernel of truth). My real aim is to to leave the visitor with a richer imagination.
I am well aware that this last assignment is very tough, since nowadays man is constantly bombarded with strong images of all sorts, making him almost immune to the process. In addition thanks to digital devices, the Internet and social networks, everyone is capable in a few moments of building up their own symbolic representations. In this sense I thought it was useless to snap new photos, but rather it was better to use what had already been produced by the collectivity, taking advantage of the iconographic material I could trace over the web.
Assembling this material through a meticulous work of composition, I aim to restore a narrative element in images. I believe this is increasingly lacking in some of the “aestheticising” photography, increasingly widespread on the media and the web (and at a different level also in the art world). We can recognize this kind of photography, of which I am not interested in giving a personal artistic assessment, not by the particular subject (as the subjects are infinite), but by the way we use (or better “consume”) it: at a glance, in a jiffy, as we were drinking a soda pop. I believe that this disposable consumption of images is superficial and typical of modern consumeristic behavior.
The narrative element, that stems from an interpretation of the image, as it happens in painting of in video-art, gives the viewer the possibility of diving into the image. This allows the viewer to be able to almost taste the image, by means of reason or emotions, and then to store it in a particular dedicated room of his own imagery. In this perspective I chose to insert in the images some little texts, typical of contemporary communication, in order to invert the iconographic process in the direction of the words as signifiers, and so bring the spectator to dwell on the details. This choice is consistent with the view of photography, as fundamentally based on experience.