Niccolò Morgan Gandolfi, Altar IV - Compositions part I, 110x160 cm, c-print, 2017, Courtesy the artist


Altar IV is part of the series Compositions part I initiated by Niccolò Morgan Gandolfi in 2015. The artist defines the works belonging to this series as a “photographic performance”, a practice that does not end with the realisation of the image, but which conceals a long process of elaboration in which the photograph is only the final result.

Unlike almost all the other works in the series, Altar IV presents an unusual configuration: the collection of objects – what constitutes the common denominator of Compositions and many other works by Gandolfi – is not positioned to compose an ordered structure, but it is grouped in a random, disorderly layout. The ritual performed by Gandolfi, who in this case transforms a large rock overlooking the sea into an altar, seems to be destined to exalt the effects of the passage of time, and at the same time the transience of the life of every single thing: the fruits, luminous compared to the dark colour of the stone, are subjected to the action of atmospheric agents and are destined to degrade with time, ending up first by merging with the darkness of the rock and then by definitively disintegrating.

The apparent short-circuit between the ephemeral nature of the object and the symbolic value it assumes – a sacred good offered to the landscape itself – opens to numerous considerations, including the aforementioned extreme value of transience, the importance of becoming aware of the precariousness of everything. This aspect amplifies the performative nature of works such as Altar IV, in which the artist’s effort is only apparently vain or non-existent.

Cover image: Niccolò Morgan Gandolfi, Altar IV – Compositions part I, 2017
110×160 cm
Courtesy the artist