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'Intransitive Verbs', an introduction by Massimiliano Scuderi

for 'Simona Brinkmann: Rome Sculptures, A Reversed Time Exhibition Catalogue'

2017

 

I view my encounter with Simona Brinkmann as an important moment in the exploration of a number of questions concerning the relationship between art practice and its context. In particular, I was struck by Simona’s approach to Rome, which inevitably led me to consider other instances from the world of art and literature. In her, and in her way of approaching things, I found a sensibility capable of enabling the meta-category of classicism to repeat itself both as dynamic value and new vision. 

 

Michel Foucault talked about the relationship among different, uncodified categories of knowledge which resist rational modes of scientific thinking. These are heterogeneous formations, made up of concepts, evaluations and processes of observation, all of which structure information in such as a way as to allow the placing of things within an order.

 

As is typical of her way of working, and riding around the streets of Rome on a Vespa (a bit like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holidays), Simona embarked on a process of recording events and objects, noting things down in her personal travel-journal-cum-archive, delineating her field of action as one capable of structuring the drawing up of connections in such a way as to allow her to enter into a relation with the world as meaning. This modus operandi, which is connected to an idea of art practice as the search for the possible within the accidental, allows us to understand the true nature of the artist and of her creative process. During her time spent at Fondazione per l’Arte in Rome, she catalysed the potentiality of a city exhausted by centuries of art, potholes in the road, large bureaucracies and terrible government, but also by a history so very present that the eye is drawn to linger on its residual landscape, a landscape made up of marginal gestures. 

 

Listing, ordering, archiving are all familiar practices within art history, but all are still of great relevance as modes of engagement with the creative process. Suffice to think of artists such as Hanne Darboven or Zoe Leonard, with their syntax, or of Richard Serra’s compositional method, which in 1967-69 saw him starting to draw up lists of transitive verbs, for his own personal use, substituting forms with behaviours and actions to be applied to unspecified materials. 

 

Simona Brinkmann’s lists speak precisely of the multiple possibilities of sculpture-making even  before sculpture has been thought or even before it has taken a finished form, holding on to the ambiguity of a state suspended between the function of art and that of an original use value. 

 

Her verbs are intransitive verbs, because they fuse an intimate dimension with the possibility of creating forms using outside inputs from whatever context. Thus, the artist is able to internalise external experience into a mode of experience that, as Ronald Laing would have put it, is irreducible to the experience of the other. 

 

This collection of images represents the story of a possibility, of a contingency or of a future exhibition. 

 

Massimiliano Scuderi is a critic, curator, architect and Artistic Director of Fondazione Zimei, Pescara, Italy.