A one-way dialogue between artists of different generations, in which the young testifies to the influence of the old

Nicola Martini on the work of Jorge Peris (in collaboration with Vittorio Cavallini and Jacopo Menzani)

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, VI sec. a. C.

This text is intended as (the story of) a position. Position: a posture that we sometimes choose to assume, feeling and experiencing the disequilibrium that ensues from it, until it becomes increasingly silent and causes us to forget it, only to return later in a changed form, revealing the impact it has had on us.
The interpenetration of activities of a group of people who have never met, but who, through an acceleration of events, find themselves performing the same act, independently of each other. Just like three percussionists can strike a drum, completely in sync, in three distant points in space. 

I met Jorge Peris in Florence in 2007, during a workshop he organized at Base/Progetti per l'arte.
In that period, my research was talking to me in an idiom I could not read, interpret.I was speaking a language that I did not know, or, better, that I did not remember ever having spoken. That screamed procedure was a language that other people were speaking. Jorge Peris was one of them. This sort of internal cacophony was beginning to take the shape of a chorus; Vittorio Cavallini and Jacopo Menzani were emitting the same sounds… From then on, every choice began to be dictated by an entity, which made independent decisions, and which we routinely followed... the work. 

Jorge was preparing Marte in Gaia e Cosimo (ZERO... Gallery, September 2007) and we were there. The smell of the sand blown by two high pressure compressors, 7.5 horsepower, the plaster heated up to dust, a sound like cooking. Sand and plaster sucked and blown from two different floors (basement and first floor), against gravity, then descending again, leaving deposits. Experiencing the machine's functioning, a kind of marveling at something already seen, in full power.

It was not a choice that we dictated; everyone felt that it had to be done; the reason was never questioned.
We talked about trust, about faith, about alcohol, about how, incredibly, everything can remain empty without this strange, necessary faith.
"We don't really know what we're doing... but we have to continue doing it, always with the utmost dignity." Jorge repeated this often, at regular intervals.

We repeated the concepts that we needed frequently, as if to remind ourselves of them, but also to remind all those who were present.
I felt that the physical fatigue, often exhausting, was a confirmation that we had gone down the right path.
We proceeded by trial and error, not by proofs: no act was ever discarded; it was a trail to remember or a trail for remembering. 

The white powder of the quartz sand and of the plaster were mingled together into a compound, thick as a smell, the vibration frequency of the high-pressure spray was emitting a sound in our bodies;
poor visibility, always keeping one hand in contact with the scaffold, waiting for the dizziness.
I tried to keep these little details in mind as much as possible, but it was hard, my instinct was waiting to take over; hence, pause.
We talk, we start again, new words in our language, the effort to find them, repetition, increasingly longer metaphors. 

Those smells are talking to me now, as I write, burned in my memory like a childhood experience. Sea, yogurt, plaster dust heated by the abrasive impact of the sand, cold, wet clay, mold, molecules that sometimes sting the nostrils, sometimes annoy, sometimes, though seldom, intrigue.
Then it all ends, we experience the fatigue of slowing down, of falling into a dynamic with a different density, but equally frenzied.
Vittorio, Jacopo and I continue to recite verses and verbs in this language.
We find ourselves in Vittorio's studio, which soon becomes our studio, a barn in Marti, Montopoli in Valdarno (Pisa); and it still is, somehow.
We realize that we are putting the same amount of effort into laying the cement for the studio floor as into this pursuit of the verb. 

The work falls on the forest next to the studio, on the clay pits; one person's effort is everyone's effort, no sacrifice.
Word, thought, and action were finally a single act, the work was beginning to take shape, I was starting to know how to listen.
During this time, we are aware that our meeting has not occurred by chance, that it was pulled together by the work: this will happen more and more often in the future.
Like in elementary school, when the day comes to introduce the concept of tangent. We found ourselves drawing straight lines on a sheet of paper. Now we believe that a straight line, in a notebook, is never drawn by chance.
Especially if it then has to go bumping into others. There were some fuses and there was a decoy. It ended exactly like in the elementary school notebooks with the straight lines.

Fairy, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (February 2008), it happens again.
A month of work, a house in Via Belfiore 65 in S. Salvario, Turin, big bed, but uncomfortable divided in three.
17 tons of clay on the walls and ceiling of a prepared room, isolated by fiber cement boards, (I ponder the effective possibility of isolating a space), vaporizers, the environment always moist; hard not to be distracted by extraneous elements.
The language is the same.
Constant travels between Turin and the studio in Marti, where other things are happening, other situations.
Long trips, in the car, often during the night, I remember the miraculous effects of Nunzio’s gentian.

The cold that paralyzes the hands and the suffocating heat are not relevant, nor is the accumulation of hours of lost sleep, or the pain brought to your attention by muscles and bones. Thought moves only toward a feeling of contentment that, for a moment, calms the demon inside, that one that gives no peace, that knocks on the inside of your head day and night, blaming and provoking.
I have yet to figure out if it is we who are scaring him.
The system is open, porous in its grains, and, in some way, protected.

I meditate on Jorge's words, the remark that he could hear me thinking about my work while I lifted the various panels of clay and welded wire mesh, which we fixed to the ceiling, more or less a hundred pounds each.

It was true, the body worked on a repeated action, but the work kept on talking to me, increasingly, and it was impossible not to listen to it.
Each of us was independent, we always knew that. It was and it had to be that way.
There lies the great generosity of Jorge.
Our relationship has always been equal, we all learned to speak this language, every day in a new way.
The events, many of them; the focus, always acute, sometimes distant.
Thought, always open to hearing so as to understand even the most imperceptible signs.
Now, I feel the impact of those meetings; I no longer try to remember.
I don't feel the need to; those sounds that went on to become language have now gone back to being free frequencies, unknown and familiar at the same time.
The posture is restabilizing itself toward another calcification. I continue to listen to something that I don't know, and, once again, I'm not the only one.

Nicola Martini (1984) lives and works in Paris. For Martini, materials and their modification are both the point of departure and the culmination of the artistic process. His work leans toward the creation of sculptural forms and installations, but its real specificity resides in its development. He has participated in numerous solo and collective shows internationally.