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CRISTI, SANTI  E MADONNE!
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  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
  • Cristi, Santi e Madonne!picture of the exhibition - photo Michele Cirulli
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federico.cozzucoli
federicocozzucoli@gmail.com
+393473327194

Don't say a prayer for me now

In man, as we know him, there exists a frivolous and unpardonable need.

It's the need that seeks reassurance from that which repeats, from the themes, subjects, and content that customarily accompany us on our earthly existence, providing us comfort through the recognition of a name, a logo, an image, an idea.

Or else a F A I T H (FEDE) that makes us faithful (fedeli).

Cozzucoli, a thinking theologian, makes a stop at the Soligo Studio for an exhibition of his creations, of his thought, and of our interpretation of belief itself, employing free re-readings that indulge the methodical exegesis of a documented god: "that being a greater than which cannot be conceived”.

In "Christs, Saints, and Madonnas!" (an inventory that I immediately associated with, respectively: a) the sign at the entrance to a tourist bazaar full of gorgeous and glittery kitsch fetish-objects designed for the true believer in the protective knickknack; b) the title of a play presented in the open air of summer for the few folks who haven’t left on vacation; c) the announcements of neighborhood procession whose purpose is a multiple version of the confused motives for prayer that essentially disregard latria and dulia) Cozzucoli exhibits and passes on to us several of his master works, for a compendium that is capable of clarifying the typical means by which man usually arrives at (or deceives?) his own faith.

This is what we want to see, that which is capable of confirming our sense of and our recognition of God with respect to our acquired/force-fed indoctrination. The inevitable confirmation of the "…basic dogmas of the Christian religion" (Russell), of the "subordinate needs of man" (Hegel), of the rigidity of the Sunday morning ecclesiastical catechesis that guarantees to the "outside world" the recurrence of the well established and ready-to-use imago, to whom may be confessed – upon whom may be discharged – guilts and fears, nightmares and doubts, crimes and sins.
In the absence of any urgent need for genuine conversation or for true contact, the prayer plaque expels evil and sends you home, content to have discharged your obligations and to have been absolved.

An eloquent passage from Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor does an excellent job of reporting on the placement of generational totems which, planted like signets in the church’s multiple residences or in the action centers where the cult's headquarters are located, are intended to be beseeched: “In the oldest wing of the mausoleum..., Jesus is gaunt and romantic with a woman’s huge wet eyes and long eyelashes. In the wing built in the 1930s, Jesus is a Social Realist with huge superhero muscles. In the forties ... Jesus becomes an abstract assembly of planes and cubes. The fifties Jesus is polished fruitwood, a Danish Modern skeleton. The sixties Jesus is pegged together out of driftwood. There’s no seventies wing and, in the eighties wing, there’s no Jesus, just the same secular green polished marble and brass you’d find in a department store...

I don't know how much all of this has to do with the truth of the word of God, with the first of the three theological virtues which should, via the aid of intelligence, arrive at such a truth. Or, on the other hand, to what degree it becomes a matter of "…cults of wage-earners such as the one at Lourdes where it is perfectly clear, for example, how much those well-dressed ladies paid for their rosaries made of gold and in what little shop of objects and pious flimflam in Paris’s Saint-Sulpice neighborhood they were wrapped” (Artaud).

But Cozzucoli is here to demonstrate the technical reproducibility of the icon, to transform representation into flesh, apparition into performance, and the snapshot into an act of testimony, thanks to a nuance of the creative act that translates veneration, the offering of reverence and respect, into an active message that intermixes cultural concepts and popular practice, exploiting one symbol in order to app(reh)end others, staging ritual postures in order to manifest their limits and to suggest their growth.

The act of subtraction that Cozzucoli achieves disputes the imposableness of pre-existing and obligatory configurations, commenting (barely) sarcastically on the fanaticism and the artificial exasperation which, aimed at (barely) religious sentiments, pass through sectarianism on their way to intolerance.
In this sense, Cozzucoli's "Simony" (La Simonia) assumes a particularly significant value, today, when the prospect of acquiring spiritual goods in exchange for money may represent an updated parable regarding the approach men take toward dogma and the magisterium, of the many Simon Magus converts interested in the Agnus Dei for sale of-the-month or in a Jesus Christ Superstar defender to be kept, of course, in the car.

Cozzucoli's relics are objects of ingratiation, first and last suppers offered in return for debts discharged and hearts lightened. Putting a worn-out alms basket at the entrance to the exhibition might have worked but would have been de trop, if one places one’s trust in the hope that une gigantesque divinologie de l’homme may be sufficient, a reminder to those men who, "by their nature, feel the obligation to obey divine commands” of a brief question: "Does the human soul even now contain no need more lofty than that for food and clothing?

Far from any sort of homiletics, Cozzucoli's work probes or "merely" affirms the tendency toward observance of the criteria and norms central to clerical methodology as if, as Nietzsche wrote, "to become the founder of a religion one must be psychologically infallible in one’s knowledge of a certain average type of souls who have not yet recognized that they belong together”.

A widespread and nimble propagation of pop commercialization, magnified by the consumer’s tendency to insist upon an analysis of the relationship between advertising promises and results, makes uncreated substance of the motives for faith. To give thanks to the Christoform contrivance resolves the business of the sacred and results in indulgences, completing the time-honored performance that takes away the sins of the world and hears our prayers.

"Christs, Saints, and Madonnas!" plural common noun, perhaps actually functions as the sign at the entrance to a tourist bazaar full of gorgeous and glittery kitsch fetish-objects designed for the true believer in the protective knickknack, convinced that that which repeats encloses the essence and the meaning of what has been taught, and that ongoing attention and learning, are not, after all, precisely necessary to “seek and to learn to recognize”, as Calvino put it, “who and what, in the midst of hell, is not hell, and to make that endure and to give it room...

Cozzucoli invites us to consult his breviary, to come face to face with his expo prepared crosswise among praises&distortions, hymns&deceptions, commemora-tion&entertainment. He allows us to pat our fellow mortals down as they greet one another with a holy kiss, to watch them when, their hands folded in prayer, they invoke their distant domestic servant, up there.

And it's all to the good, let's be clear, to be able to examine these mortal beings.

To manage to know them more clearly, gauging the attitudes they learned so early and the diligent vacuums left to refill themselves with random images.

Visiting this emporium might even be a privilege. An advantage that grants, to those last few, delicate, 21 grams of candor that we have in our bodies, the preemption rights to the seating from which we look ourselves in the mirror.

STEFANO ELENA
FEDERICO COZZUCOLI