Ivana Volpe © Cosimo Paiano photography
Sign Sound Chair is the name of the ambitious and innovative project, presented in January at the IMM in Cologne, Germany, which sprouted from the fruitful collaboration between Kubikoff and the young but promising artist Ivana Volpe (born 1988). A line of limited-edition modern chairs, where unique graphic decorations lend a precious touch to the Kubikoff quality standard. Perfectly aligned with the philosophy of the Dutch firm, which places the final product in the intermediate area of cross-contamination of all arts, Ivana Volpe’s artistic efforts challenge the perceptual sensitivity of each one of us. Indeed, the visual pleasantness of the lines fused with the material of the comfortable seats directly springs from one of the young artist’s main works, creating a filiation that is perfect in its mechanism. But let us proceed by degrees.
Conceived during a study internship at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, at once the capital with a small-town mentality and the Mother-city of Europe, 65% is an installation in situ set up in June 2011 on occasion of the Bizar collective exhibition, on the premises of the future fashion and design centre of Brussels. Called by the organization committee to inspect the rooms of the building, young Ivana was struck by the claustrophobic but heartening sensation that the tiny bathroom on the last floor stirred in her. In the small bathtub, set against badly damaged wallpaper, she envisioned the body of a girl, a body similar to hers, living trapped underwater.
The image was endowed with such power and precision that the artist had no doubts about its realization. Tied to her personal and ambivalent relationship with the water element, the installation - besides being the metaphor of a precarious condition verging on tragedy, and yet deferred to leave room to an unexpected serenity of the present moment - takes shape and substance. Projection on a liquid screen: the video frames stay trapped on the surface of the water that fills the tub, lending an astounding illusory reality to the girl’s body. The live sound and the rippling water are, by their own nature, immaterial, combinations of zero and one within the file, but achieve an impression of unexpected immanence. We are tempted to touch the surface, look at the mouth of the water tap to get an empirical answer in order to take a stand. Or perhaps, simply reach out to free the young woman. But in the end, we choose to remain at the mercy of the sensorial short-circuit, in a small room of this big city.
A work of excellent and uncontested quality, 65% struck Kubikoff’s dual mind and led Matthieu and Gino Lemson to commission the artist for a line. How can one translate a video installation in situ into a decorative work for a line of chairs, without turning it into a trite reproduction, a dull iconographic replica of its constituent elements? Ivana focused on water, the main component of 65%, origin of the sound and destination of the projection, the matter on which the image can take shape. Each movement of the girl in the video corresponds to a sound generated by the movement of the liquid. Sound alternates with silence, and together they form the invisible framework of the video installation, the indissoluble and inescapable bond between the different elements. The attention shifts from the sense of sight to hearing, but this information needs to be re-processed in order to be brought back, once again, to sight.
How can one translate in visual terms the binary code that makes up the audio track? The entrance on the scene of a computer engineer, Giorgio Carlà (born 1980), proved to be of immense importance: the two friends (who have now become collaborators), owing to the ease of communication between them, conceived the idea of FoxApp, a fundamental application where science and art meet. The young shaman of the digital era thus developed an application capable of “transforming” sound into images: starting from the bytes of the file, and setting some parameters (including stroke, color or bitrate), FoxApp produces real graphs (that can be saved in bitmap format), the signifier of the sonorous essence of an artistic process.
The circle has closed: passing through sound, the image was re-converted, all senses were involved and surprised at once, and Ivana acquired a new visual material to work on, a “digital, abstract expressionism, the expression of a sound, rather than a gesture”, as explained by the artist herself. The graphic works on the chairs indeed derive from those primordial graphics, intertwining the two works by the artist in a unique generative cause/effect relationship. For this reason, the fruits of the collaboration between Kubikoff and Ivana Volpe (with Giorgio Carlà’s precious input) are truly cutting-edge works of art, suitable for daily use.
T.D.L. Teresa Gentile
Seats that are not only pieces of design and works of art, but that offer the actual opportunity to rest on sound, or at least on the visual transcription of sound. Owning these chairs somehow means owning a portion of 65%. The Cologne exhibition will be the perfect occasion to appreciate first- hand the bond between 65% and Sign Sound Chair, they being displayed in close proximity at the Kubikoff stand.
Ivana was born on 11 October 1988 in Campobasso, where she lives now. Her education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence is enhanced by a period of study at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Elements linked to the ambitions and aspirations of her childhood characterize her early works, in which the gesture of the cut and then sew occurs, as well as body-cutting, hurting and then healing. These themes are then developed and deepened as an investigation on jeopardized in- stability and balance. Currently her attention is focused on sound, noise and its dynamics.
She has participated in various group exhibitions, include- ding “Bazar” in Brussels, “Souk” organized by Pierluigi Tazzi at EX3 – centre for contemporary art in Florence, “In vena d’arte “ at the Pandone Castle in Venafro, and “Ambi- Valenze “ at the Library La Scolastica in Campobasso. She also participated to a street art event (“Draw the line”) in his hometown and also to the performance “what do I wash my hair for, what do I let it free for?”
In her career, beyond being an artist tout-court, she also has developed experience as a graphic designer, fitter, de- curator and restorer.