University of Konstanz, Germany Paolo Monti, Dollar Image, 1989   PAOLO MONTI VIERDIMENSIONAL²
Selected writings on the Art of Paolo Monti

Until Nothingness
Massimo Carboni -
Lecturer of aesthetics, Accademia delle Belle Arti, Florence

- excerpt -

The practice of art is an organised anomaly. It is disciplined in language. Other than this there is only chit-chat about “creativity”.   The work of Paolo Monti has constantly revolved around this evidence and this awareness, through the filter (and code) of an instrumentation that ranges from the most prosaic manuability to the most sophisticated scientific-technological apparatus.   Perhaps it is because of this that he appears as the catalysing fulcrum (or disperser?) of a series of references, fundamental problems and questions that are divided into two distinct, but tightly interconnected, conceptual and operative routes.

“Un’immagine proiettata muta progressivamente fino alla sua completa sparizione”  Paolo Monti, IMMAGINE DI DOLLARO, 1989

On one hand his work with money, and consequently the fetichism of Value: desire not of the object, but of desire itself. A vertigo of the most complete abstraction, of the most discarnate virtuality whilst at the same time representing the utmost factual operativity possible, with the theoretic-conceptual route traceable from Marx to Simmel. Monti therefore takes money, both conceptually and materially, as the object of his work; figure of itself and of the Other: vertigo of Value, mythology of the Myth. But which are the elements put into play?

“The exchange value of goods, in as much as a particular entity parallel to the goods” wrote Karl Marx in the Grundrisse, “is money; it is the form in which all goods are equivalent, are confronted, are measured; it is that in which all goods are dissolved, that which is dissolved in all goods”. The work of Paolo Monti seems to be both the paraphrase and the literal reversal of Marx’s thesis. Money is not in fact assumed as a form or a means and, therefore, as a general equivalent, but as material subjected to a specific process of perishability: it dissolves not into goods but into itself. The abstract sign regresses into concrete, physical fact in present (temporaneous) consistency. Money is not by nature a commodity endowed with intrinsic value, its quality consists exclusively in its quantity. Monti materialises abstract value, the phantom; he reverses the process that leads to the exclusion of the goods assumed as money and therefore the general equivalent, bringing money back to its initial condition of material-object with its extreme residual value of use. In a given time, the banknote attacked by acids will dissolve, until there is no trace left. It is said that “time is money”. Here it is money that is time. Until total entropy is reached, until the final consummation. Until nothingness.

On the other hand, his work that most explicitly adheres to scientific-epistemological procedures, concentrating on a hyper-technological dimension and fundamentally radicated in the principles of sensitive perception -and in the interrogatives raised by this- regarding the relationship between subject and object; identity and alterity (Otherness).

That the “object” is in reality a world, a horizon of sensibility that nevertheless brings to life an aesthetic experience, is another question. The fact remains that it is the Other that constitutes us; without forgetting obviously that we ourselves are others to the others. Any kind of proximity cannot originate without this distance.

All these things are well known. Here they are recalled in very synthetic terms only because they have something to do with (maybe more than that which might appear at first glance), the more sophisticated technological work of Paolo Monti. The themes are exactly those of the relationship between identity and alterity, between subject and object: with their reciprocal exchange and deviations within the cognitive labyrinths which bind them to one another. An interactive practice, whereby it is the spectator that renders the manifestation of the opera as such possible.

Paolo Monti’s work certainly reveals the “marvellous”, the (hyper) technological thaumazein: at various levels of power and seduction, but it is undoubtedly revealed. In fact, technological processes (based on physics or chemistry) are simply shown without any particularly intrusive elaboration on the part of the artist. Monti is not in search of the “imaginative”, “aesthetic” side of Technique; nor does he possess the pathetic ideological pretension of humanistically redeeming Technique through “poetry” or “creativity”. Here, technology is utilised in a way in which it autonomously and spontaneously produces the true thaumazein. But for this to occur, it must -with Duchampian memory- be “put it into place”. And this, only an artist can do.

Paolo Monti (Musis, 1998) - ISBN 88-87054-01-0Massimo Carboni, Professor of Aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts and Culture of the University of Tuscia in Viterbo and the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze / Academy of Fine Arts of Florence, Italy

excerpt form: “Until Nothingness” by Massimo Carboni in
«Paolo Monti» (Musis, 1998) ISBN 88-87054-01-0  and presented in the collection of selected texts produced for the personal exhibition of  Paolo Monti, Vierdimensional², Konstanz (Germany), 2001.



Selection of critical texts on the Art of Paolo Monti