THE RITUAL OF IDENTITY
These artworks by Antonio Syxty demand attention. I say that especially for insiders of the art world who could be tempted, at a first glance, to immediately catalogue these pieces under “images which express the taste and the spirit of their time”. A playful and mediatic style, a pop chromatism which sometimes turns into glamour, many allusions to everyday news stories and many also to history, the right mix of high and low culture, a specifically cutting sense of irony and, especially, an object which is as trendy as it gets nowadays: the credit card. Upon close observation, however, these pieces reveal something very different. Such as an anomalous form of estrangement, radically other to the postconceptual matrix which is so fashionable these days. By this I do not mean that Syxtyʼs work is completelyforeign to that tradition of sorts which is internal to the idea of avantgarde, for whom Duchamp is the founding father and conceptual art the latestnoteworthy incarnation: if anything, I see Syxty as an apostate. I see him as someone who occultly cultivates his own metaphysical heresy, in a difficultly decipherable sense of the word. My point of view is possibly influenced, or perhaps simply fuelled, by having seen many of his performances – still, in these works I recognise that same oracular tone, that hypnotic fixedness, that same cruel gaze which characterises certain Greek myths. The singular quality of these pieces is traceable also in the many dramaturgies of a theatre director with a performerʼs past and a performer with a visual artistʼs past – the visual artist who periodically returns. It is a quality derived from the incendiary combination of a sense of fate paired with a distorted perception of everyday life, of the visionary paired with the scoundrel, of an instinctive search for the archaic paired with an attention, an interest in consumersʼ trends. But let us give these images true consideration – let us avoid falling into the trap and immediately endorsing a sociological reading: yes, it is true that the currency they speak of is the same currency we use to buy a museum ticket or to pay at the supermarket. But that currency is also an idol, a surrogate of divinity. A sense of the sacred which has been altered, contaminated, commodified – or maybe an absolute profanity, or most probably both: this is what I see in Syxtyʼs works, what seems to me to pervade his entire oeuvre. Even in the theme of identity, the threadrunning through all of our artistʼs endeavours (after all, isnʼt the exchange or the transferral of identity the ever-present theme of myths?) I seem to intercept a distorted obsession for the identical – that is, in the repetition / interruption of a formula which is at the heart of rituality.
Roberto Borghi, art critic.
The images and icons chosen on a credit card nowadays are undoubtedly readable as ideograms which somehow, through different ideas and meanings, conceal or reveal aspects of our lives. By enlarging a series of imagined credit cards, each with different functions, Antonio Syxtyʼs project makes visible a socio-cultural terrain which had previously been ignored; in other cases he shows certain known functions of the cards in an ironical key, emphasizing the emotive aspects conjured up by the image and text chosen to reflect the cardʼs possible usage. In all these cases, Syxty makes his makebelieve cards function as part of an idea of economic framework, suggesting that the usage of these cards would be – implicitly – possible. Thus, both conceptually and visually, Syxtyʼs project investigates the space of present-day art and finds its own place within it.
Horatio Goni, artist and gallerist.
A credit card is also a debit card, in the sense that credit relies on a debt of some sort. Both one and the other imply that there is a loan, and a loan presupposes trust: trust is the essence of money, it is the very soul of monetary exchange. Trust in the Central Bank, in banks in general, in the workings of the financial system, in the delicate yet powerful mechanisms of the institutions? No, it is a much more concrete and base form of trust, in an act which is repeated by convention. Because the trust we put into accepting a banknote as a payment is nothing but the certainty we have of being able to spend it immediately after we have received it, which is also why it will be accepted without question by somebody else. A credit card is tender which is signed by ourselves, not by a Central Bank, and endorsed by somebody – not necessarily a financial institution – who gives us their trust. A credit card declares that somebody trusts us: hence it becomes the ID card of our spending capacity, a certification of our eligibility as consumers. Who is entitled to issue such a precious document? Many different entities and thus, the number of credit cards in circulation is huge. In such a context, nothing forbids Antonio Syxty to imagine an even larger number of credit cards, multiplied by an exponential number that coincides with the multitude of buyers / users, where each card is able to represent and summarise oneʼs personality, behaviour, desires, needs, obsessions, and vices. The imagination of this ʻtrust marketʼ cannot be inferior to that of marketing, which is why they share the same limits – which is to say no limits at all. It is reasonable, then, to imagine that every consumer would have his or her own personal card, a card which is as unique as its holder, which intimately reflects the consumerʼs personality. And this is where Syxtyʼs work generates a relevant and absolutely essential reflection: we put our trust into a piece of plastic which is supposed to tell us everything about the person who owns it, which we expect to describe its holder in their every psychological nuance. But a human being is more interesting, more alive and more vivid than any object created as a representation of the human. Better off trusting a person, any person. Better off trusting the original.
Pierangelo Dacrema, full professor of Financial Markets and Institutions at University of Calabria (Italy) since 1993
The credit card is the emblem of a concept, recently expressed in ZygmuntBaumanʼs latest publication in Italy – a concept which also gives the volume its title: lives we cannot afford. Our societies, western or otherwise, are based on debt. Banks and credit societies prefer those who donʼt pay. Antonio Syxty, a newcomer to the art world, entitles his exhibition Money Transfer. His is a big game in economics: he has blown up the credit card to nine times its size and has created new ones. These are credit cards which inhabit the world of dreams. The most current is perhaps the Shareholder Card which carries the image of a loaf of bread. Will we end up buying bread with a credit card? Who knows. But will we be able to pay back the debt? We are an army of flies who use the Family Card. Annoying and odious asflies are to most people. As flies buzz around pausing on things we find repellent, we go around buying, signing bits of receipt paper and increasing our debt. We believe what we are buying is happiness. But is that really the case? Two rats who stare at each other but arenʼt able to meet – is this the fate of true love? Paul Eluard peeps out from his card: his is a Poetry Card. The poet isnʼt he who is inspired, but he who inspires others. Times have changed and these days, it seems, inspiration is born all too often in shop windows.
Angela Madesani, historian and art critic.
SYXTY ONE, SYXTY TWO, SYXTY THREE, SYXTY FOUR, SYXTY FIVE... SYXTY THOUSAND... ONE HUNDRED SYXTY... SYXTY
By Elisabetta Longari
From the title of this notebook, everything speaks the language of evidence. It could seem obviously but it is inevitable to refer to Warhol, concerning his fatal attraction to the artificial, plastic, and seriality. The credit cards “facsimile” of the real ones - more than anywhere else - is also prophetic in Warhol’s desire to be a machine. But in these credit cards (facsimile or fake ones) there is much more and in a different way, because they bring out something dirty and also sediment disturbances: the debris of modernity are all displayed prominently, because they are mixed up in some way which becomes disturbing.
The author chooses for himself a name blatantly artificial: SYXTY. With this pseudonym he wants to sign his work as an art performer but also as a theatre director, in a way to give rise a sort of mapping, proliferating and infinite virtual identities that we have all become, filed through the many passwords and codes that allow all of us to access to the virtual world of which we can no longer do without. Now we are living always connected, like monkeys hanging from the branch of a tree, increasingly hybridized with the technology but never enough, because we are like the incarnation of the truth and desire which it bears the “figure” bio-door designed by Cronenberg in eXistenZ. With this film, Syxty seems to share something more than some atmosphere: his pseudonym seems to work as the title of the film, which is made up of a series of letters, each representing an unknown mathematical value, constituting a kind of puzzle that from the chosen name propagates composite identity which this name claims to represent. The identity has always been a complex issue but for our postmodern author still seems possible only as long as you turn into a kaleidoscope.
Syxty observes reality and the facts of life, of whatever nature they may be, from a point of view which become uncomfortable and unforgiving, The facts of life end up to run as background noise, they become exclusively a pretext for money-exchages of money “made-virtual”. These facts therefore become “made-real “in the action of feeding the huge flow of traffic of encrypted information. Everything seems to be serial and plasticmade. If we think about it we are gripped by vertigo. We all live in a ‘neo-Baroque period, as Omar Calabrese clearly suggested several decades ago, but we are also entered the era of posthumanism, in which reality and fiction are similar, indistinguishable, and
everything is simulacrum.
Let’s get back to the title of the this notebook, which is a sort of book of notes around Syxty’s work but also around the world that powers his work. It’s title mocks the sentence Body of Evidence, and we are wondering about what crime we are dealing with. We could think much simply and plainly that we are talking of a crime consumerism. Is this? Or not? Globalization has made all of us consumers, as it was well predicted by
Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of the most important and outstanding intellectual born in Italy.
This Is So Contemporary is an art work-performance built by Sehgal on several occasions, including in 2005 at 51th International Art Exhibition - Venice Biennale where he was invited to represent Germany. The situation he had created in the German pavilion was an unusual settling
where the guards in uniform came towards the audience dancing and singing the leitmotif: This is so contemporary. This performance had a particularly strong effect because the author did not anything else. Happy consumers, some of which, at certain latitudes of comfort/discomfort, they are even shopping addicted. These shopping addicted people are no longer members of certaincultural communities, or citizens belonging to certain geographic locations involved in a historical, political and social community. It seems there are no more dreams than those that money can buy. Every image, every event is reduced to material consumption. Maybe the series of Money Transfer, as credit cards-maker, in their form and function, does not hide the apocalyptic considerations that in my sensibility I wanted to point out.
As in Warhol’s work, in Money Transfer there is no trace of moralism, which unfortunately seems rather inevitably creep into the folds of critical interpretations. It is more likely the recording of the mechanisms that govern the reality in their striking evidence. Antonio Syxty just selects and chooses some aspects that are visible to everyone, aspects of our world which are drugged and addicted. The “Bank of Guantanamo- credit card” is a strong concept, which recalls violent images. Syxty just underlines the facts and its striking anomalies with the same attitude so typically in Warhol’s work once again.
This booklet gives the richness, the buzz of an open work uninterrupted, made up of many possible series, so many splinters, like a firework, glowing from a single nucleus.
Life is not so contemporary is the title of the exhibition, which opens in Milan in Orea Malià, witty title obviously a nod to Tino Sehgal who spends his art without direct evidence than those of the participants. This seems to really take an attitude opposite to that of Syxty’s, which knows well enough to actually reverse the meaning of the assumption of Sehgal’s work.
If I think of a possible soundtrack for this exhibition I can only think to The End of The Doors, with all its apocalyptic sound while Syxty argues that for this exhibition is very suitable the main theme of Gattaca by Michael Nyman, persistently pursuing a path that leads straight in a narcoleptic future which - as a mater of fact - all of us are already living.
Yet I feel in the images of this exhibition a sound dirty and hard, a screech like nails on vinyl, which is certainly not reflected in the music that the Syxty has chosen...
At the end of the day the others are always the ones who listen and interpret the images.
SYXTY'S CREDIT CARDS, VANE METAPHORS IDENTITY MISSING
by Paolo Sciortino
A good way to understand the artist Antonio Syxty (which is equivalent to understand the man) is to think back to where he was born in Buenos Aires, city of Borges and psychiatrists. The Argentine capital is the seat of the identity of the world, its Universal Library, the haunt of souls boundless and their representations, and is also, incidentally, the city with the highest number of psychiatrists and psychologists per inhabitant.
We will say better then: rethink imprinting inspiration of Syxty helps to understand, if anything, the reason why you can not understand it at all. But this, after all, is the essence of art and artists: a good artist and a good artwork we should not ask to explain something, but only to please, to illustrate emotions, to give back to the world the truth that the world hides.
Artists are enigmatographers, Symbolists and radiographers to birth. And Syxty is an artist. The artist started from figurative, loving Duchamp went through representational art with the theater (he is artistic director in Italy), developing the Situationists, and now back to figurative art with a human characteristic and spiritual full of suggestions and maturation.
The center of artistic investigation by Antonio Syxty, in any application that has experienced, is the identity. The conclusion of the survey, which originally was only a guess, is the vanity of it all. The privilege of maturity lies mainly in finding serene, ironic and amused a terrifying human condition that is hard to float, above an abyss of chaos that plunges into infinite nothingness.
This is because the unique privilege of the artist: know understand and know do understand, that does not mean to explain and understand. It means represent and feel represented.
A field investigation, that of vanitas vanitatum, attended by legions of artists and thinkers, of course, but each with its figure.
For Syxty, the horror of the void translated into art enjoyable and sincere lies in the relationship between the individual and the money. Or rather, in the symbolism of evil that takes the money to dress up in each of us: the credit card. "There is not even an American movie where you do not talk about money, where no fan banknotes, where the relationships between the characters are not tainted by money," he once told me Syxty. A reflection seemingly trivial, but in truth deeply disconcerting, because it infallibly, obsessively true: there is not actually any of them.
And the credit card, projection simplified, distorted and arbitrary value, has become the identity card of humanity: from Kamchatka to the Pillars of Hercules, from the Equator, every human being can possess virtually the same, identical object of exchange, with the same dimensions, the same graphics, the same material. Only the figures change, and those figures tell every habit, every change of taste, of status, mood, age and even weight of the individual to which an algorithm has decided a coded magnetic media in a life.
There is nothing more deadly, inexorable the exchange of power between the holder of a credit card and his passport. “Have you a credit card, sir?" Asked the cashier for a hotel. "No, I'm possessed by a credit card," he replied the artist who understands the truth of the report and proposes an inverse operation, arbitrary well as his, but responsible: assign himself a code generated with the same mathematical criterion to the credit card. Not fake, because that has already happened in reality, with the transformation of people into sequences numerals that record and also seize the most intimate personal. It is, however, conscious gesture of restitution of identity, since the artist - and he alone, with the confidence of the public directly - destroys the code after it's built. What remains is a faithful portrait, inviolable and secret.
The artwork on credit cards, for Syxty, following a methodological and conceptual progression ever more perfect and refined, ranging from witty decorativism the first Plastic cards, fully graphic, made with the language of advertising and film, with the myths of the world , culture, society and entertainment encrypted and associated with slogans that often nailed to the evidence of a depletion of sarcastic sense, the series, already more pictorial, although black and white, of the disappeared whose only trace living left is the credit card, up to small but structured narratives of existential cycles made, entitled Life is not so contemporary, where the artist's hand intervenes on the media as to want to change without constraints, independently, what in reality It has established and secured by keys impossible to find.
Here's last production, credit cards become matter formed by the art in a state of subordination: scratched, stained, wrapped in bold color backgrounds, bent to the will of a disillusioned demiurge who exposed the obscene power.
And the identity, it's not really saved, impossible feat for any artist, including Borges, at least it is unveiled, although the infinite multiplication of the owners, as he began to say Borges, paving the streets of Buenos Aires to the study of psychoanalysis, as well as the doors of the Infinite itself.
Syxty reveals today that multiplicity in agreement with the holder of the credit card, or the collector of identity, agreeing with him one and only one definition, although it will be lost in eternity.
The only one to remain free from all revelation is he, the artist, who uses only revolving credit cards and calls himself only Syxty.