For Fabrizio Plessi (born 1940), one of the most internationally renowned pioneers of video art, art always means movement. Since the end of the 1960s, the element of water has been a main theme of his art. 'Water, especially the sea, opens our minds.' For him, the flowing element of nature is a symbol of temporality, the flow of life, and a metaphor for memory. In his unmistakable signature and constant exploration of state-of-the-art, time-based technology, Fabrizio Plessi uses the medium of video to make the power of nature directly experienceable.Read More
From the very beginning of his artistic career, Plessi began to develop water as the central theme of his art. His fascination with this primal element–based on the ubiquity of water in his adopted country of Venice - was already a source of inspiration for his numerous forays into action art and conceptual art during the 1960s and 1970s. Photographs document his actions. For example, when in Paris Plessi tried to punch a hole in the Seine with a large nail (Un Buco N'ell Acqua, Azione 1973) or sawed the Stichter See near Neunkirchen into two equal parts (Segare il Lago Stichter in due parti uguali, Azione 1975). Absurd actions in which water is treated less as a natural element than as a full-fledged medium to be shaped for the implementation of his ideas.
His first videotapes developed in 1974, and soon after the medium of video became the core of his art. In the 1980s, he began developing expansive video installations where he combined natural materials such as wood, earth, iron, or marble, as in the monumental video installation Roma, with state-of-the-art technology to create the exciting wholistic experience characteristic of his works. With the presentation of this video installation at Documenta 8 in 1987, Plessi, who first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1970, finally achieved international renown. Plessi has realised more than 120 video sculptures and expansive video installations on the subject of water worldwide. Later, the element of fire would also become a recurring theme.
Given the rapid pace technical innovations in recent years, Plessi's formal language has also changed accordingly. Instead of combining sculptural elements with electronic media as he did in his earlier works, Plessi now reduces his more recent video installations to the simple form of the image carrier, the screen. Since 2015, his video installations have impressed audiences with their minimalist staging.
Plessi's works have been shown in major museums worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fondazione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice; Folkwang Museum, Essen; Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao; Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Fondazione Mudima, Milan; Kunsthalle Recklinghausen; and Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice. Fabrizio Plessi has also created stage designs for operas such as T_he Fall of Icarus_ (1989) and Ex machina (1994), a concert by Luciano Pavarotti in New York's Central Park, and Mauro Bigonzetti's ballet Romeo and Juliet. Fabrizio Plessi lives and works in Venice.
Text courtesy Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art.