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Frontier Studies 



As we all know the word Utopia begins with Thomas More essay De optimo statu deque reipublicae nova insula Utopia, the term in question makes the following etymology: from the ancient greek ou (not) and topos (place). A not place where a perfect society can be established, but since this place remains ideal, this aspiration cannot be realized. Hesiod spoke of a golden age in which no one ever grew old, had no concerns and anxiety, or where disease and misery were unknown. Among the Utopians who have preceded More: Aristophanes, Evemero, Plutarch, Phaleas of Chalcedon, Hippodamus of Miletus, Ovid, Virgil and Horace mostly describe Utopia’s as places of happiness, freedom and equality. From the late eighteenth early twentieth century utopias focused on many social and political ideals and even radically anti-religious, aimed at promoting some form of socialism or communism: Travels in Icaria by Etienne Cabet, The coming race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and News from Nowhere by William Morris. On Morris I would like to linger: behind the imaginative activity of the dream, as it is presented by this author, is always hidden, the fulfillment of a collective human desire that, through removal processes, synthesis and screening, is the depositary of a cognitive universe tended to convey the voice of conscience to mytho-poetic referent.

This affinity between oneiric work and aesthetic language is reflected in the narrative production of William Morris, "dreamer of dreams" Victorian par excellence, as well as cultural mediator between mythology and socialism of Marxist derivation. For these reasons, Mark Harris works moves from these ideas to cross many of the historical experiences of visual art, architecture and literature that have questioned the concept of Utopia. This is the reason why Harris does not identify a place or a certain time. His titles provide general guidance, only vague descriptive words such as north seascape, eastern depot, southern archway and western woodlands. It is possible, instead, to reascend accurately to precise iconographic references that guide him in his search for aesthetic: Superstudio, Vorticism, Futurism, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Nash, Samuel Palmer, Caspar Friedrich and Hokusai.

In the past Mark Harris produced paintings or drawings on original photographs of ruins taken throughout Europe immediately after the Second World War. Most of the materials with which he now works are 50, 60, 70 years old with signs of aging: worn corners, creases, grease from fingers, glue and dust marks. Harris intervenes on the images adding new, abstract; trenches, gateways, involved in the ambiguous intention to protect and conceal the image itself. Initially three years ago, when he started this series of works, Harris was looking for unusual images to work on, then he began to consider also the end papers, corners of discarded images and the book covers. In revisiting these waste materials, he has discovered new media to work with. He creates radical architecture, which sometimes transforms from the two-dimensional into sculptures. A conspicuous area, of the by now vast literature on the evolution of the image in the age of media never tires of bringing attention to a change in aesthetic paradigm. The proliferation of the digital universe, the rapid obsolescence of analogue related technologies, studies and applications of the virtual (especially in film, but also in other arts) would mark the advent of a dimension completely unpublished due to which the image seems to have finally celebrated in his own immanence, freed of all legacy of the traditional concept of mimesis. Staying in the area of analogue image, this exhibition covers the digital image to the extent that, paradoxically, is able to imitate. This solo exhibition by Mark Harris, stepping back in a genealogical way, or identifying some basic epistemic paradigms or nodes around which it is moved and is moving the reflection on the recent status of the aesthetic image, contributes to the debate concerning the relationship between image, representation and mimesis, through a set of images subject to manual intervention, will implement a simulation of hypertext reports analyzed by the new technologies to investigate backward the evolution of the process of building image, choosing, not surprisingly, Utopia as single subject and its historical evolution.

text by Marco Tagliaferro - Curator and contributor for Flash Art, Artforum and Mousse magazines  


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