The sculpure of Annalisa Ramondino Italiano Biography intrview by Giovanni Gugg reviews Exhibitions Awards The Sculpure video linksHome Contact

Annalisa Ramondino was born in Palma de Majorca. She lives and works in Rome.

The objets-trouvès, and the ready-mades, things that usually are thrown away, are raw material for the artist's work. Her sculptures, made of old wood, iron, old zinced sheet metal, are transfigured objets-trouvés, pieces of material placed in another context, bricolage-narrations, where materials are stratified in a coherent array of heterogeneous stories.
The main themes of Annalisa Ramondino's sculpture are: "War Game", "Utopian Cities", "Factories".
The "War Game" is composed of several war devices. The encampment tents, named "Command Tents", made of sheet metal, remind us of the famous tent on the fresco "Constantine's Dream" by Piero della Francesca: in them the antique solemnity of it doesn't vanish. Then there are the "Belligerent", big funnels with wheels and flags, the "Darkroom's Towers" that present themselves as observation machines, the "Revolving Chimneys", obtained from overturned drainpipes, the "Imaginary Towers" made of wire from which other wires spring out bearing flashing airplanes, pieces of glass, flags.
Other works are the "Utopian Cities", microurbane constructions, in which the artist shows a great interest for the language of materials. The "Residual Cities" are composed of towers made of old painted wood, whose tops are either squared or cuspated, their surfaces are marked by time. The tower is a prototype that by repeating itself in various dimensions and heights, in the assemblage as houses or towers, compose archaic, towered, medieval cities, downtowns, acropolis. A sense of immutability and at the same time of tenacious survival comes from these constructions, like a presence and like a memory. Some other buildings are made of iron net like the transparent skyscraper entitled "Great Building Of Air Gages".
The "Factories" are little constructions made of white or gray sheet metal with big chimneys. They are Recreated, in the way one can recreate an architecture of the memory, showing a simpler form and some sharp details. Factories which make you think about the work, hard work, even if useful, but also about the buildings themselves, motionless, on Sundays, seen from faraway.
Dai suoi numerosi viaggi ha tratto ispirazione e materiali per la ricerca artistica che porta avanti da tempo.
Her many travels are a source of inspiration and materials for her artistic research.

She has exhibited in: Florence, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Cologne, Paris,
In 1994 she obtained a special Mention of the Miart jury in Milan.
She participated in: Artissima/Lingotto, Turin; Arte Fiera, Bologna, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Paris
show exhibitions

Some essays on Annalisa Ramondino's work:

Paolo Levi; "Annalisa ramondino's Utopian Cities"
Anne-Marie Sauzeau: "Constructions"
Donata Tchou: "Annalisa Ramondino's Factories"
Marcello Venturoli: "Time puts wheels in Annalisa's wood" and "Talls of peace and war"


A playful art of patching up: Interview with Annalisa Ramondino

by Giovanni Gugg................................................................

Torri della camera oscuraOur present time, with its many possibilities of transcultural dialog, shows how much it is more and more factitious to establish a clear-cut break between "Us" and the "Others". This is specially evident in the exhibition "Arte & Gioco in Mostra" ("Art & Game On View"), where African toys gathered by Enrico Castelli and Alberto Fortunato show a part of the creativeness of a vast and variegate continent that contributed, with its three dimensional universe, to the great revolution of modern art by freeing European artists from the rigid and conventional rules of classic art.
It is, probably, due to the encounter with African cultures during her many travels that Annalisa Ramondino began to perceive and then to feel stronger and stronger the vigor and the stories of discarded objects, and select them to retransfer the message through an accomplished, playful art of patching up: a dreamlike work filled with irony and passion that she uses, as she says, to "fix things" and to offer us hints to discover and rediscover journeys of what we don't see because it's" too visible".

Ms. Ramondino, we'll begin with your singular stylistic choice. What started your interest in the discarded object and its usage in an artistic key?

I don't know. For years I collected old papers, old pieces of fabrics or buttons… and also broken objects like a grinder… in brief, anything was beautiful for me. I still have several trunks filled with these things. I kept them because they moved me. Discarded objects fascinate me. Residual pieces, leftovers, relics, that are cultural waste, that have a stratified memory of gestures, occurrences, calamities that molded them little by little. They are thrown away, but they are alive and I want to revive them and I am desperate if I can't save them, rescue them from exile and disuse.

In what way do your works come into existence? What is your favorite subject?

Looking at my works, now I realize which are my preferred subjects: first buildings, houses, factories, and then the army. But not at the beginning. Everything happened by chance. In the village where I have my studio they often renovated old houses and so they gifted me with ceiling planks, some painted white, others covered with newspapers and then painted over, so I thought at once of houses having scraped walls, the same houses from where the material came from, the houses that were about to disappear. My houses look like old white, pink, stone colored hamlets seen from faraway, from a train, passing by: they rise in the remoteness and look like mirages. Then I finished the wood and I went into despair. But I had old drainpipes that came from the same old houses, they were metal-gray, the army color, and so the war camp was born, with its varied war machinery. When it was done, I was amused by the idea of having a personal army to defend me from life. But it didn't. It was only tin.
Little by little I learned how to make use of different materials, like metallic nets, wire, pieces of objects and, lately - by a friend of mine who constructs beautiful things - plastic. They are the discarded objects that suggest to me what to do: the end result depends on the material, on the shape, on the colors, on the heaviness or lightness of the material .

Every object has and is a story, and its artistic expression almost seems to want a connection with its past. There is, in your work, a sort of "Search of Lost Time"?

Memory and nostalgia are always present. As Cabrera Infante says, "memory is the first and the last time engine. There's only time and memory. Nostalgia is the soul's memory",. These objects have a story, they have an elsewhere, For example, the wood I use for the Boxes is from old discarded boats and have many layers of painting that make me think about labor, fatigue, about the experience of living. In my work I always pay attention to the recovery and the safeguard of memory, but with a peculiarity: I don't recover everything, but only what moves me, what arouses my curiosity and amazes me.

Your work strongly refers to the game, are there any playful moments in your art?

Always. When I have materials, always. I'm amused, I play every time I am creating something, but just finding materials is very amusing for me, it's a source of inspiration. My only critical moment happens when I don't have the material, it's like the lack of paper and pen for a writer or colors for a painter. But each time a scrap moves me, I'm certain that sooner or later something will come out of it.

African objects that are the other soul of this exhibition, could be considered what Claude Lévi-Strauss defines as "Science of the Concrete" where the bricoleur "performs his work with his own hands by employing means different from those used by a professional" and ssucceeds in "adapting to the tools he has at his disposal". You yourself fix things, you patch them up, you transform, express yourself with what you have and communicate the idea that you made a practical experience: so maybe you are also a bricoleuse, don't you think?

Well, as a matter of fact, sometimes I am a bricoleuse because I like to construct my sculptures with my own hands, other times, after I plan them (materials to be used, shapes, proportions, dimensions) I ask for the help of others for the realization of the project. I have, for example, a good welder who solders some objects. Our collaboration is more than ten years old, it was difficult at the beginning because somehow he felt debased by these odd objects of mine, but then he became passionate about them and now he supports and valorizes them to others

Ms. Ramondino, in what way do you define your work? ....................................

I wouldn't know exactly, but maybe I can answer you with the words of a friend of mine, who says that my sculptures are "transfigured objets-trouvés, pieces of material placed in another context, bricolage-narrations, where materials are stratified in a coherent array of heterogeneous stories".

You said that discarded objects inspire you. Do you believe it to be pertinent to interpret your sculptures as disapproval of the opulent and consumerist society?

As a matter of fact I've never thought about it. Maybe it can be more appropriate to those people who pick-up old coffee tables or shelves, abandoned armchairs and so on, to use them for the same purpose.

In what measure were you inspired by what is commonly called "Ethnic Art"?

My many travels in Africa and elsewhere, and also the excursions I took in the Italian poorest countryside, taught me a lot. The freedom of mixing different colors and materials. For example: in a rich country a door is made of one piece, in a poor country it can be made of leftover pieces of various colored woods, a bit of bin, a net, a piece of tin sheet and so on, and it looks like a modern painting.
African children often build toys like trucks, cars, airplanes, motorbikes by copying them directly from reality, from what they see passing by because they seldom have books or photographs. To build these toys they utilize the materials they have, like pieces of tin sheet and wood, the wheels are often made from flip-flops, lights from burned out flashlight bulbs. They use also rags and join the pieces with wire or rubber strips obtained from tire tubes. They build with great freedom. They build what they see and what impresses their fantasy. I've always been fascinated by their constructions and I've always felt some analogies between their toys and those we made as children and my sculpture.

In general, the production of objects like the exhibited African toys is a collective fact, while an artwork is basically the result of an individual path. What relationship does exist in your sculpture between the two concepts of "individual" and "collective"? Are they opposite or complementary?

Maybe I can identify two distinct moments: the one of "pure" creation that is essentially an individual fact, mine, somewhat solitary, and the one of practical production, concrete, when I am often helped - as I said before.

There are some aspects of your art that remind me of Ettore Guatelli's aesthetic and museum-building work. He said that is was "a big crime" to prevent evidences from past times, even in dumps, to be recovered. Like the mentor of Ozzano Taro, do you also think that your sculpture contributes to the recovery of a memory of marginality?

I agree with Ettore Guatelli, who I know and admire.
There's, of course, waste and waste, but a little tidy and clean town, without "poetical leftovers" gives me always a filling of emptiness, of discomfort and loneliness.
To Guatelli the dump was sort of a "kingdom of memory", while for me the discarded objects are a hint for an artistic research, for creative adaptations that, if the observer succeeds in being in tune with it, I believe it can contribute to bring up memories.
Yes, I think that who appreciates my work, who loves it, can live a sort of recovery of memories. Often. for example, in front of my compositions and my constructions, they say: "it reminds me of… "

la scultura di Annalisa Ramondino