Out/About: Formafantasma at Parallels
‘Formafantasma’ is Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, Italians based in the Netherlands whose inquisitive minds delve into past techniques to shape contemporary forms. Like anthological explorers they glean methodology from the manmade and create objects of beauty labeling and tagging them in a scientific manner, and in doing so crediting, their humble beginnings.
Although only starting their studio in 2009 their body of work is impressive. Each project is thorough in its research, both physically and intellectually, until a purified form is realized. As their name suggests ‘Formafantasma’ – ghost shape or ghost form – the tangible object is only a phantom presence that is appreciated through the manufacturing technique.
They seem to take delight in the grotesque, exploring the unlikely materiality of, lava, fish skins, cow bladders, blood, sawdust, and insect excrement (shellac) in their work. It’s this refreshing take on design and craft that brings them to our shores for the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) talks, Parallels: Journey into Contemporary Making. Starting today, it is a two day dialogue between both Australian and international speakers, about contemporary craft and its place in modern society.
In anticipation of their visit we wanted to highlight one of Formafantasma past projects. Their ‘De Natura Fossilium’ project illustrates their capacity for diversity from one material. Andrea grew up on the island of Sicily and so experienced the behavior of Mount Etna – one of only two active volcano’s in Europe – he talks of ash being in your house, your bed, your hair. It’s this abundance of materiality that ‘Formafantasma’ talks about within ‘De Natura Fossilium’ – “Mount Etna is a mine without miners – it is excavating itself to expose its raw materials” – which in 2013 led them to explore the characteristic and behavior of lava and basalt.
The collection is at once visually arresting and functionally prolific, reminding us of the materials origins and although sometimes raw they are never clumsy. Making exquisite textiles and fine ceramics out of basalt fibre, controlling the heat process to reshape, and refine lava glass are examples of their curiosity of materiality and As Gallery Libby Sellers so succinctly puts it “by returning the rocks to their original molten state Formafantasma are reversing the natural timeline of the material and forcing a dialogue between the natural and the man-made.”
And with all this in mind we will have a keen ear out at Parallels this Friday to hear what Formafantasmas latest discoveries are.