Maybe you will win | Pietro Gaglianò on Ryts Monet

> The 6. Moscow International Biennale for Young Art has begun on June 8, 2018. Its main exhibition is curated by Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti, an Italian independent curator, and includes artwork by Ryts Monet. The theme proposed for the 2018 Bienniale is “Abracadabra.” On Droste Effect Magazine, you will find more details on the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, including reviews and special interviews.


Eleonora Castagna: We had the pleasure to talk and discuss with the curator Pietro Gaglianò on the last solo exhibition of the artist Ryts Monet, Maybe you will win, which took place in Florence, from January 12th until February 1st, 2018 at SRISA Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Pietro Gaglianò: Maybe you will win is a message that sounds more like a hypothesis or a wish, or perhaps even a sardonic expression of doubt, that casts every human success into relativity. It is printed on a paper scroll unearthed from the crumbs of a fortune cookie; for artist Ryts Monet, this finding activates a dialectic confrontation with the obsessions of contemporary culture: memory, identity, the visible form of things and all of its ambiguities. After all, one of the most irresolvable contradictions of civilization is the way in which meaning is invested in the image. There is a certain iconophilism for the image, degenerating sometimes into fanaticism—a tendency which has been compounded by the advent of mechanical reproduction and ended up in a crisis, in which the image and the reality it represents are increasingly conflated. Our image-driven culture has resulted in an obsession with the visible, a misplaced trust in visual representation alone. However, this process of visual simplification—reducing figures into mere appearances, symbols into mere fetishes, and history into mere personal narratives—is one that is uncritical and, furthermore, mistaken. As philosopher and art theorist Gerard Raunig writes, “the construction and demolition of monuments are part of the same play,” referring to his interpretation that the construction of one’s own identity is often expressed through the appropriation or the destruction of an image. Extrapolated, this could explain why monuments are smashed into pieces in some parts of the world, while they are reproduced, copied and imitated in others.



“50 points miracle”; series of 5 items assemblage: postcards, banknotes, fortune cookie message, wooden shelf, velvet; 100 x 30 cm


This is also the case for effigies of the powerful or, on a larger scale, portraits of the people that have made up our history—to be constructed and destructed in turn, and in vain. Through various modes, Ryts Monet has focused on precisely these themes relating to the making and unmaking of the image. By isolating elements that have an ambivalent role in our relationship with the production of images, he tackles a vast landscape of meaning, questioning everything from the iconographies of power, to the myths surrounding identity, to so-called moments of personal fulfillment within the consumerist system.

Another fortune cookie reads You are going to find recognition. In looking at an old postcard from Rome and a five-dollar bill, this cryptic message becomes the key to understanding the relationship between the two. Three columns from the Temple of Castor and Pollux appear on the former, while an image of the 1922 Lincoln Memorial in Washington—its architecture a reference to the neoclassical, which in itself was a reference to the “classicism” of the ancient world—appears on the latter. Without any moral judgment, Ryts Monet accurately describes the constant human attempt of mocking, destroying, and creating new symbols, and the ease in which reality is exchanged for its representations. All of this happens in an accelerated dynamic of consumption, creating a scenario in which the old and new, the authentic and the fake lie together: a landscape in ruin, moved by a continuous earthquake.

Maybe you will win is part of his new series Miracolo da 50 punti (50 points miracle), presented here for the first time. At the root of Ryts Monet’s interest in the way humans give meaning to monuments is his earlier piece Sisters, from 2014. The work is a series of eighty-eight images, all depicting versions of the Statue of Liberty scattered throughout different locations. In the exhibition, only twenty-two of the original eighty-eight images from the series are presented, though it includes the primary “matrix” located in Paris—upon which the New York “original” was based. The work “synthesizes the state of indifference into which the icon falls. In this case, the controversial champion of democratic freedom is stripped of meaning, and extended and contracted like a series of pop art prints,” and used as ornament for private gardens, anonymous suburbs, and malls.

At the core of this theme is the work Lamassu, which embodies the conflict between extremist iconoclastic rage—which has produced ruins of ruins—and the multiplication of Western fetishism for the ruins themselves. Lamassu is the name of an Assyrian deity, a winged demon with the body of a lion and an anthropomorphic head, often placed as a guardian in front of palaces and temples. In 2014, the thousand-years-old statue of Lamassu, in the archeological site of Nimrud (Iraq), was destroyed by the militiamen of the Islamic State. However, before its destruction, the statue had been scanned with a numerical control machine (CNC) for prototypes of 3D models—of which the artist has extracted only the fragment left of its two front paws. The Lamassu’s paws have now become a melancholic “sculpture of the image of a sculpture,” testifying to the cycle of the rise and fall, the glory and dissipation of all of human things. The work, furthermore, disrupts the very idea of progress, adding a bit of cynicism to technology’s headless positivism.


Ryts Monet, Srisa Gallery of Contemporary Art

“Lamassu (With Love and Embers)”; CNC sculpture, high-density foam; 44 x 68 x 36 cm


“Sisters”; series of 88 elements, chemical transfer on paper; 21 x 30 cm each

Ryts Monet, Srisa Galley of Contemporary Art

“Migrant”; gold-plated meteorite; 9 x 8 x 5 cm


Tangential to this research on monuments and memory is another work, RIOT: a text installation in golden letters applied to the window of the exhibition space. The work is derived from an educational article regarding the formation of gold on planet Earth, tracing its symbolic meaning of conflict to its possibly extraterrestrial material.


"RIOT"; golden vinyl letters applied on windows

“RIOT”; golden vinyl letters applied on windows


Grounded in both a symbolic and material “alien presence,” polysemy of the word “riot” (disorder, protest, upheaval) conceptually resonates in the video work The Battle of Bijlmer. For the piece, an RCTV camera documented a freestyle rap contest, organized through an open call for the rappers in the neighborhood of Bijlmer. Bijlmer is an area in Amsterdam, where only 30 precent of the inhabitants are Dutch, while the rest of the population is split into over one hundred and thirty different nationalities. In the Battle of Bijlmer, rappers of different nationalities and origins have responded to the open call and challenged each other in a freestyle-rap battle, their only limit being the artist’s direction to use their native language during the competition. Thus, a new Tower of Babel was created, connecting the European suburb to the Biblical scenarios of Mesopotamia and the origins of division and mutual misunderstanding. 



“The Battle of Bijlmer”; event; video documentation, CCTV, 17’18’’“RIOT”; golden vinyl letters applied on window

Battle-poster battle-poster2


And so, with this reference, the exhibition turns back to Iraq, following the thread of other mythologies. By examining meaning and its inconsistencies, Ryts Monet reveals how the whole of mankind ultimately looks vulnerable in front of itself, forced under the weight of induced desires and behaviors in an atmosphere of subjugation, violence, and farces sold as reality.

> 6. Moscow International Biennale for Young Art
> Ryts Monet

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by Eleonora Castagna
in Focus on Europe

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory