The GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Bergamo presents Ocular Gymnastics, the first solo show of the artist Meris Angioletti in an Italian museum.

The entire exhibition–composed of three works all created expressly for and commissioned by GAMeC–is an exploration of the mechanisms of memory, from purely mnemonic information to imaginative aspects related to literary fiction and performance. A multidimensional journey within this process, declined through many expressive means, from video to audio installations.

The first work on exhibition is entitled 6 S. Kracauer, The Detective Novel. A Philosophical Treaty, and its subject is three stories by Edgar Allan Poe from his tales of ratiocination (The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter). The detective Auguste Dupin, who inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and to whom may be traced the narrative stereotype of the modern detective who logically reconstructs a fact by starting from the clues discovered at the scene of the crime, is a part of this trilogy. The pages of the three tales were printed in such a way as to make the narrative structure of the detective story visible: on the first page of the artist’s intervention—which would then be the last of each story—we find the entire tale printed one page on top of the other, in a confusion of typographic characters that are impossible to decipher. With the turn of each page, a layer is removed, such that the final page is the only one that is truly legible and happens to correspond to the beginning of the tale, as if little by little, the clues had organized themselves and the crime scene made intelligible. The book will not be on display at the exhibition, but the printing plates used for printing it will be, as though these preserved the traces of the execution of the book itself.

The second work on display is an audio piece, which is available as a soundtrack to listen to using the audio-guides made available to the public for audio-guided tours of exhibitions and that may be requested at the reception desk. The title of this audio work is 28 March 2009, Hotel Hilton, Milan, which are the date and place of the recording. During her research on the mechanisms of memory, Meris Angioletti ran into Gianni Golfera, a man with a prodigious memory, whom she asked to memorize the sequence of 200 digits following the decimal point in the Greek p, after listening to them only once. The artist chose the Greek p because its confines are unknown and because it is a number that is in constant evolution, and to which new digits may always be added, but remains indefinable.

The method used by Golfera to memorize the numbers is based on the creation of mental images in which the numbers are transformed into letters and consequently into actions. In the video that constitutes the last work in the exhibition, the mental images that Golfera used to memorize the sequence of 200 digits were delivered to a group of mimes who staged it, thereby creating a pantomime that is the visual analogy of something we cannot see, meaning the mnemonic mechanism that lies behind the audio piece. Thus, on the one hand, we listen without seeing, and on the other we see a video with no sound, in which those same numbers are dramatized wordlessly.

Ocular Gymnastics is an exhibition consisting of clues and mysteries, in which memory assumes various appearances, and in which mathematics as the kingdom of infinite possibilities overlaps literary fiction as a metaphor of psychic investigation.

The exhibition is part of a collaboration with the Fondazione Galleria Civica-Centro di Ricerca sulla Contemporaneità in Trento, which will host a second exhibition of works by Meris Angioletti in the Autumn of 2009, curated by Andrea Viliani. The two exhibitions, while autonomous, are complementary episodes in a single exhibition and narrative project.

With thanks to: Galleria Tiziana Di Caro, Salerno.