RIGHT BEFORE I WAS – Cunsolo, Esposito, Lako

Apr. 29 – June 29
curated by Lucia Giardino

Right Before I Was

Right Before I Was presents the results of considerations on the recent artistic past of Florence (1960 – 1980) by 3 young artists of different ages and backgrounds. It includes places, characters and topical references not experienced firsthand, but learned orally and through fragmented visual documentsby Gaetano Cunsolo (Catania 1986, Florentine education), Barbara Esposito (Isernia, 1978), and Lori Lako (Albania, 1991).

Aware of the evocative power of an image, the idea of Right Before I Was springs from the possibility of Pindaric flights that young artists in the present exhibition maytake through a visual document by the protagonists of those years (the galleries Schema and Zona, the publishing house Centro D, the futuristic projects by Archizoom, Superstudio, the Radicals, etc…). The refusal of the offer of such a document, the reluctance to confrontation, has molded the second major concept of the show: Florence emerges as a provincial and domestic town; whereas the word domestic implies a sense of comfort, family and security, as well as a sense of elitism, closure to the outside, cultural protectionism and self-referentiality.

Condensed primarily in the decade of 1970’s, there was the possibilitiy for a No-Stop-City; the latter, while still caring about the walls of Arnolfo di Cambio, considered them as mere data to use in fruitful dialogues with the geographical and cultural otherness. The No-Stop-City meant transferring the walls and history of Florence in a playful context that loosened the control of the mid-Nineteenth century narratives, and that one recalls in the image of the postcard-city as in the view from Piazzale Michelangelo invented by Giuseppe Poggi.

Though Right Before I Was beganstarted from the considerations of visionaries and creative movements that expanded, albeit briefly, the scopic horizon of Florence, it is curious how in the end, the artists on show have returned to talk about the historic city and its granitic architecture of lime stone. The artists seem to have carefully avoided any direct reference to the city’s more recent past. Gaetano Cunsolo explores the portion of Florence surrounded by the boulevards (still the result of the urban plan by Giuseppe Poggi), which become the limit for a count of the piazzas inside. For 1970’s urban art, the piazza was a place of possibilities and exchange; here it is instead shown as a mere crossroad, an open space, where the social and interpersonal relationships are to be redesigned. Cunsolo’s blueprints of the ground, lacking perspective and being contact reliefs or frottages, allude to the myopia of Florence, marking a ground zero for future redesign. Barbara Esposito focuses her work on the distortion of a compact form, the octagon (an allusion to the Baptistery of St. John, as a symbolic representation of Florence): a generative act of further possibilities, which, as happened in the sixteenth century with the Irregulars Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, can produce new and fertile, albeit brief, artistic seasons. Lori Lako sees without conflict the postcard-city iconized by Poggi, which remains unscratched by the creativity of 1960’s – 1980’s. Brunelleschi’s bulky dome is for her dominant element of the landscape both real and abstract; an unquestionable paradigm of engineering and aesthetic genius. For the young Albanian issues lie elsewhere. For example in her inability to wedge her own system of representations – unproblematically borrowed from the dominant narratives – with a temporal extent that she sees as gray, since not personally experienced. The first step is therefore to organize the data chronologically for case study discussions, which may perhaps generate a work or graphic sign.

Have then Cunsolo, Esposito, and Lako, purposely avoided the confrontation with the recent artistic events in Florence, ultimately leaving behind the premises of the show? I believe, instead, that the particularism of the protagonists of those facts, and their indolence to share their stories – an attitude which leads to isolation and the prevalence of rhetorical visionshave repressed the Pindaric flights from the main text, essential to the artists to vitally comment and articulate on what happened right before they were.

This exhibition is also born out of the necessity to offer to the international students of Florence University of the Arts, our main public for the events on schedule at F_AIR, a glimmer of little known Florentine artistic otherness of great interest, with the conviction that this may be the start for individual or collective discoveries.


Gaetano Cunsolo (Catania 1986, lives and works in Florence). Studied in Florence (Accademia di Belle Arti), Milan (Naba), and Minneapolis (MCAD, Minnesota). According to a definition by Germano Celant, the common condition of the artist in the post-modern era is off media; this condition is particularly suitable for Gaetano Cunsolo who incorporates many media, as well as the processes in his art. This practise is also vital in his approach to teaching at Florence University of the Arts, as a professor of the School of Fine Arts, since the beginning of 2014. Principal solo and group exhibitions until 2010: 2013 – disUmanesimi, Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Florence; Madeinfilandia, Pieve a Presciano, Arezzo; Dalla Memoria alla Materia, curated by Andris Brinkmanis, Quartiere Umanitaria, Milan; La Mala Educaciòn, curated by Pietro Gaglianò, Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Florence; 2012 – The Wall (Archives) #2, a project by Pietro Gaglianò, Ex officine automobilistiche, Rome 2011 – Sul Disegnare curated by Lorenzo Bruni, Via Nuova Arte Contemporanea, Florence; On the Ideology of Snow: Shifts (Part 1), Kiehle Gallery, St. Cloud State University, Minnesota; On the Ideology of Snow: Shifts (Part 2), Dressing Room, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Storie dai Margini, Teatro Studio, Scandicci, 2010.

Barbara Esposito (Isernia 1979, lives and works in Rome). Always interested in “the potentials immediately obvious of the places... not only as a territory to investigate, but also as a possible metaphors of the identity of those who inhabit them. Barbara Esposito prefers minimal interventions, often eliminating the differences between final works and projectual stages, where the use of drawing and paper are the maximum limit to display her abstract research. Principal solo and group exhibitions until 2010: 2013 – SIGHT 13/14, curated by Enzo De Leonibus, Museolaboratorio Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Città Sant’Angelo (Pe); VIS à VIS – Fuoriluogo 16, curated by Silvia Valente, Oratino (Cb); Sentieri emozionali, curated by S. Valente, Caffè letterario, Montemitro – Galleria Limiti Inchiusi (CB); 2012 – RestArt, curated by S. Valente and Tommaso Evangelista; Museo Light, curated by Patrizia Ferri, Museolaboratorio Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Città Sant’Angelo (PE); L’orto dell’arte, Visioni Contemporanee, curated by Lea Contestabile e Marcello Gallucci, Castello Piccolomini, Ortucchio; Papiroflexia, curated by Lorenzo Canova, ARATRO, Campobasso; 2011 – Autumn Contamination, curated by Luca Basilico, Axa Palladino Company, Campobasso; Art linking-Project, curated by S. Valente, Galleria Limiti Inchiusi, Campobasso; Il grado zero dello sguardo, curated by Maurizio Coccia, E. De Leonibus, Giuseppe Di Liberti, Domenico Spinosa, Museolaboratorio Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Città Sant’Angelo (PE); Premiata Officina Trevana2011, curated by M. Coccia and Matilde Martinetti, Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary, Trevi (PG); 2010 – Sight, curated by E. De Leonibus, Museolaboratorio Ex Manifattura Tabacch, Città Sant’Angelo (PE); Kalenarte, curated by S. Valente, Casacalenda (CB); Premio Termoli – Imago, a cura di Miriam Midolla, Galleria Civica di Arte contemporanea, Termoli (CB); Poetiche nomadi, curated by E. De Leonibus, Museolaboratorio Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Città Sant’Angelo (PE); Sogni d’oro, Galleria Limiti Inchiusi, Campobasso; Godart, curated by E. De Leonibus, Museolaboratorio Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Città Sant’Angelo (PE).

Lori Lako (Podradec, Albania, 1991, lives in Florence). After the art school in Albania, she moved to Florence to continue studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, where she is obtaining the two-year specialization in new media and languages. By her own admission, her interest turns to the condition of the man of the post modern era, overwhelmed by images and messages that hinder decryption of the world and listening to the self. Albania is often present in her work and brings out the gap of communication, characteristic of the condition above. Principal solo and group exhibitions: 2014 – Nuovo Cinema Masaccio, curated by Pierluigi Tazzi, Casa Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno; Come sé, curated by Arabella Natalini and Elena Magini, Casa Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno. 2013 – Un popolo senza memoria è un popolo senza futuro, curated by Sumesh Sharma and Serena Trinchero, Casa Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno; Topography of citizenship, curated by Pietro Gaglianò, SRISA Gallery, Firenze; Wet Paint, Galleria Frediano Farsetti, Florence; Lessfull, double solo curated by P. Tazzi, Fondazione Lanfranco Baldi, Pelago; StART point, Galleria Sensus, Florence. 2012 – Il paese di fronte, curated by Xhovalin Delia, Museo della Civiltà Romana, Rome. 2011 – Solo Exhibition, Lasgush Poradeci Gallery, Pogradec, Albania.