La Nuova Pesa, Center for contemporary art, Rome
Enrica Petrarulo

The gist of Giuliano Giuliani’s installation, shown at La Nuova Pesa as part of his solo exhibition, is encapsulated in the disjointed conjunction of the title, “Bandiere o dormienti” – “Flags or sleepers”. In the gallery’s main room, set within the horizontal structure of a wooden structure, are travertine sculptures that seem to have reached the zero point of subtraction of weight, the same sense of impalpability one feels in sensually stroking a silky-smooth fabric.

They lie there, folded in upon themselves in a sleeping position, Giuliano Giuliani’s flag-sculptures, and their shelter seems to suggest a no-longer-living place, disturbingly like the architecture of a lager or a modern cemetery; or perhaps like a sort of limbo that we hope, presuming a subsequent step beyond, is transitory. And yet, despite their apparent helplessness in abandonment, Giuliani’s lovely flags have not surrendered, but are waiting. Because the condition of reclining or sleeping is merely the penultimate condition, one that precedes – not yet defeated – the definitive surrender of the Deleuzian exhausted, whose weariness has truly exhausted every possible effort. With no-one willing to wave them any longer, the sleeping condition of the flags alludes, rather, to the limbo-like state of a humanity that seems to have relinquished its own historical determination, if not its transcendence.

Nor is it any wonder that this admonition comes to us from the edge of an area of quarries, woods and nature, where Giuliano has always lived, by chance, but also by choice. These places, very much dominated by the presence of stone, marked by a geological sense of time, have encouraged the development in the artist of a religious perception that imbues not only nature, but the world and its events in general. Religiosity, then, as a mode of experience, even in reference to the historical time that his flags stand for, with their latent undertone of civil movement towards redemption and liberation. You who already boast so many bourgeois and working-class glories, become a rag again, and the poorest waves you, wrote Pasolini, as a religious man of faith; and Giuliani reminds us of the same thing, albeit through the gesture and process of art.