Today’s post comes from Kevin Choe, Class of 2012 and Art Center Student Docent.
When visitors drive through the Main Gate of Vassar College, they are usually struck by the imposing façade of Main Building as it slowly comes to view. However, for the next month, that view will be interrupted by a large, brightly colored banner hanging next to the entrance of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. With its loud yellow tone and large lettering, the banner is vaguely reminiscent of a YIELD sign at a busy intersection, gently instructing incoming drivers to slow down, stop, and look at me. However, unlike a traffic signpost, the banner is not a command, but an invitation—a welcome sign to an unhurried world of colorful grids that look like miniature cities frozen in time. It is the world of Marco Maggi—a world he has so aptly named Lentissimo.
Apart from the title of his current solo exhibition at the Loeb, which is an Italian word most often used in music to denote a very slow tempo, Marco Maggi gives very little, if anything, in terms of informing viewers what exactly is being shown in his works. Although the materials Marco Maggi uses are easily identifiable—stacks of colored paper, eyeglass lenses, and Reynolds aluminum foil—the etchings and cutouts made on these familiar household items present an analytical roadblock for viewers. Ironically, this roadblock seems to be a reaction to the intellectual inertness of a world that is heavily reliant on high-speed information. In fact, the title of the etched surveillance mirror at the back of the exhibition, Global Myopia, seems to make fun of contemporary society’s lack of imagination and intellectual insight. The mirror, denuded of its specular functions by a complicated web of finely etched lines, forces viewers to speculate and to abandon conventional means of perception and identification.
In this way, Marco Maggi: Lentissimo seems to present both a critique and a remedy to the fast-paced culture of contemporary life. Ambiguous in meaning and neutral in subject matter, the works in the exhibition do not allow the automatic immediacy of “knowing,” but instead, necessitate the laboring, yet creative delay of “thinking.” Ultimately, what Marco Maggi presents to viewers is a world of wonder and wondering—a world comprised of miniature “structures,” “sculptures,” or, perhaps even, “cities” (as the Hotbeds are often likened to). However, in Marco Maggi’s world, one must look carefully, intimately, and slowly because, as in a city without signposts, it is easy to get lost.