Baruchello Foundation, Rome 2003
(...) Mauro Folci’s work also takes up a section of the park of the Fondazione Baruchello, characterized by a harmonic, unspoilt, ancient-looking hilly landscape. Here the artist had a hole dug in the ground, ‘A room under the open sky, dug in the earth, measuring 3x3x3 metres; the perpendicular walls and the floor are as smooth as the earth allowed. There is no furniture and only three lumps of earth on which to sit. It is another strong, polysemic structural element that is the opposite to the integrated factory. Not an invitation to contemplate, or a space reminiscent of a cave, but rather a crowded square, a public space in which a thought of resistance and action interact, in Arendt’s acception of setting something in motion, beginning a new discourse. It is a work that seeks to establish a mental place of belonging – we are inside the earth, not in the centre of it – and the tension towards true human nature, which cannot be defined by work. A space to drum up a libertarian thought that can elaborate answers to the new capitalistic strategies and extremist practices of surveillance and control of the labour force following a totalising project that aims to control the bio-politic productivity of the multitudes.’ De Santis describes the situation she participated in thus: ‘some guest prisoners (an art-critic, the exhibition curator, Carla Subrizi, a sociologist, Laura Fiocco, a philosopher, Paolo Virno, Toni Negri, Giuliana Commisso and the artist) have been let into the room and left to engage in conversation, without a set script nor moderators. The audience gathered outside to observe what was happening underground. […] Sheet metal, cars, cuts, bodywork, sheeting, assembling. Little by little the factory materialized in the discussion, until the integrated productive system in the tireless production cycle was visualised.’ Mauro Folci reminds us that ‘Already in the 1960s, Ferruccio Landi maintained that there was a homogenisation between linguistic production and industrial production; the extent of this homogenisation is very clear today. The structure of the economy, is a communicative structure permeated and supported as it is by the grammar of verbal and non-verbal signs, form and symbols. Participation, flexibility, self activation, being able to read the flow of information and to communicate, these are the tools of the “new” worker, opportunistically invested with personality – the shift from individual/labour force to person/worker is crucial in this respect – that lead us to almost view work as free hermeneutic activity, with information and communication becoming the analytic tools in the exertion of control.’ According to Laura Fiocco, the factory must be narrated because the possibility to exert control hinges on its aesthetic beauty. Mauro Folci’s underground room seems the mirror image, turned upside down towards the centre of the earth, of Bentam’s tower, referred to by Foucault when he explained the mechanisms of power and bio-politics, and asserted that it more or less unconsciously inhabited the gestures, attitudes and words of all men. This image too holds the characteristics of the image-refrain: a geometrically determined space filled with people who are free to talk and say what they want. An ordinary space, although different: a cube inside the earth, where the figures are both words and postures, where the earth induces conversations that are being listened to from the outside by the audience, who is also forced to assume unusual positions. Thus the space can give rise to motor and linguistic refrains, facilitate the return to earth, to a pre-individual dimension, in which language, encouraged to express the factory, can take new forms.
‘Beyond Melfi Fiat factory’s futuristic aesthetic lies a different reality: suffice to consider the high turnover, to shift the observation point to understand how eloquently these images bear witness to the mystification that the integrated factory produces through a complex system of communication (kanban) which is vital to achieve the just in time, but which, edging the determinant of the order towards a reversed vision, from the client’s rather than from the management’s point of view, creates the illusion of the occultation of commands. In other words, it functions strategically, as it emerges clearly from Fiocco, Commisso, Sivini’s fieldwork (in Melfi in time), as an ideological force in that it regulates social relationships.
(from: working whilst talking. talking whilst working. language at work in Mauro Folci's art device. by Marta Roberti )