In his projects, for over fifteen years Eugenio Tibaldi (Alba, 1977) has investigated the Neapolitan hinterland, where he moved to live. This is an area that, like all the margins of the world, due to the mass effects of globalization, is characterized by an urban confusion pervaded by disorder, randomness, lack of cohesion in the urban fabric, poor quality design and a cannibalistic reuse of existing buildings, often subjected to a process of profoundly anarchic redevelopment. These places, even these non-places, in the sociological acceptation of the term, become the privileged and almost obsessive object of the artist’s investigations, the conceptual starting-point and material of production and elaboration of all his work, resulting in a complex aesthetic strategy, suspended between art, architecture and urban planning, in which he embeds his ruthless and scrupulous, sometimes even surgical, research intended to explore the relations between the human microcosm and the urban macrocosm, to visualize its lacerating human and social contradictions.
Combining photography, drawing (always central to his practice) and installation, over the years Tibaldi has developed his own unmistakable modes for discussing geographical space and contextualizing it politically. In essence Tibaldi creates spaces of social interference, whose method of investigation, originally applied to the blighted outskirts of Naples, to a grotesque urban reality, contemporary with us yet already obsolescent, is charged over time with documentary values that tend to transcend the geographical contingencies of its starting point and become absolutized in a painful reflection on contemporary society, on the “peripheral condition” whose ailments and troubles it represents. In the constant tension between utopia and dystopia, his works physically transform urban space, which becomes a palimpsest.
The Identity of Concrete (2015) is a monumental map, made by assembling some original transparencies of projects that originated from the Mondadori paper mill at Ascoli Piceno. The artist took the paper mill as an emblem of unreclaimed brownfield sites, silent derelict giants that trigger different emotional reactions: idle, difficult witnesses to history, suspended between an industrial past and a de-industrialized present that has to be reactivated, presented as a space for shared reflection. The artist works on ready-made transparencies on which he excises the load-bearing structures of the paper mill, activating a process of subtraction that has always distinguished his practice, seeking to bring out, through the oxymoronic action of effacing, meanings and associations of potential thoughts. In this case, the light penetrates the cuts and, in the interplay of light and shade, animates them like embroideries, from which the contours of the building are restored aestheticized, donated to a new and possible life, with new functions in the symbolic and liberating precinct of art as of thought.