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15 Jan 2013

'Frank!' by Francesco Pedraglio at ROWING, London

Francesco Pedraglio, The problem with paintings
(after Rytis Saladžius), Vilnius/London, 2012



Performances 16 January 8.00 pm Exhibition 1 Dec - 9 Feb Thursday to Saturday 12–6pm and by appointment

Tyler Woolcott or Guillaume Breton
+44 (0)75 4093 4636

Unit F
449 Holloway Road
United Kingdom

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Frank! is an exhibition of newly produced works by Francesco Pedraglio and in the second part of the show beginning Friday 11 January, a collaboration with eight other artists (Nina Beier, Paul Becker, Alex Cecchetti, David Raymond Conroy, Chosil Kil, Marie Lund, Simon Dybbroe Møller and Robert Frank) directly or indirectly invited by Pedraglio in relation to some of the ideas underpinning the exhibition.


The action or, if you prefer, the exhibition, takes place mostly during daytime… within office hours so to speak… from 12 to 6 or by appointment. Well, obviously it's still there at night, when we've all left… out and about… thinking of something else, by ourselves or with someone else. Even then it's there. It exists while you are walking out of that space, down the street and straight into your local corner shop to buy yourself some dinner, and it exists while the building superintendent moves slowly through the narrow backyard to shut the front gate and turn the light off in the main stairwell so that you can't get into the building until the morning after. It exists and that's about it… it's there! And with this I mean it's there even when we don't look at it. Banal? I know… but as I'm the first to forget, it might be a good idea to remind you all about it… even if we know that what really matters is somewhere else, right? A world elsewhere. Because indeed what counts here, is that our action or exhibition, well, it's actually a person… a real person… we need to imagine it as an individual, a being with all the component parts we would expect a being to have, all the physical and psychological idiosyncrasies that make of him or her who he or she is.

Little confusing maybe… so let's make it all a bit less specific… or a bit more abstract if you prefer, if that's even imaginable. Let's say that our action or exhibition, which, as I have explained, is a person, a character really, well, let's address this he or she as an it. Makes sense, no? It might actually help… might be simpler to tell our story if we don't pick a definite angle yet, letting all our options lie there… wide open. Keep it abstract. And anyway it's too early to draw any definitive conclusions, to take upon our heads any more responsibilities than we need to. If you prefer, if it makes it easier for you, let's think of the entire situation as a constructed fiction, a planned-out story. Note that this is not really the case: our character is real… or at least as real as you or me or all the objects you see scattered around the room. But if it helps you to imagine it as a 12-to-6-or-by appointment kind of person, an on-stage-off-stage kind of guy, well, feel free... just if it helps… as we all know things are more complex than this, right? At least more convoluted, more elaborated… even after closing time… even when we can't really tell what happens in there, in that space, when we're off somewhere else and have managed to forget all about the entire business.

Now let's give it a name. Let's say it's called Frank! So Frank!, our action, our show, our character – potentially mine or your story – well, Frank! is a person like any other person… it just happened to be here, now, existing as an exhibition of some sort… constructed as a series of scenarios re-enacting the psychology of a character. So every object shown or performed has to be considered per se as something existing in and from the world… out there… and, at the same time, as plots proposing possible takes on our character, as proxies for Frank!, cosmogonies for its own fiction. Consequently Frank! itself could be seen as an abstraction defined by the narratives we project around or onto this agglomeration of objects you see here, now, leaning up against the walls or scattered willy-nilly around the room. Everything in here is a starting point, a tool for re-enactments or simple elements defining our character, standing for, and instead of, Frank! But that's not all we could say about it. Actually we have a major problem in our until now perfectly balanced and delicately nuanced scheme. The fact is… he's dead. Frank!, I mean. He is irrefutably dead, departed… gone forever… finito… kaput! So, for the sake of precision, we can't really state we have an action or an exhibition yet. We can't because we haven't got Frank! as such… Frank! as a walking-and-talking person doing things, thinking things. We don't have it as a conscience or a consciousness yet. What we have instead is a constellation of elements building up a corpse, a cadaver, a dead body of some sort – like head and torso and arms and legs and fingernails – remains we decided to name Frank!... someone or something that, through our interpretation, might become my action, our exhibition, your story… all upside down really… from bottom to top and in reverse. What we need is some sort of beginning though… a starting point, a way into the reconstruction of our character.

So now… let's say: the audience enters the space to find the curtains already raised! Let's agree on that. We need some sort of handhold, some sort of pretext. So this is it: you enter the space and the curtains are already raised. What else?


Francesco Pedraglio is an artist, writer and co-founder of the art-space FormContent. Through short stories, performances, videos and installations, his work employs the mechanics of storytelling to reflect on the intricate relationships between the construction of subjectivity and the perception of objects. Writing directly in a foreign language, Pedraglio focuses on narratives facing the problematic of 'making sense' while delivering a story to an audience.

Pedraglio has performed at Transmission Gallery (Glasgow), Kunsthalle Basel (Basel), Hayward Gallery (London), Auto Italia South East (London), The National Portrait Gallery (London), ICA (London), Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridge, England), Galerie Kamm (Berlin), Hollybush Gardens (London), among others. With FormContent's exhibition and publishing activity, Pedraglio has curated numerous exhibitions including 'Session_15' (BolteLang, Zurich), 'The Responsive Subject' (Mu.Zee, Ostend), 'Through Body and Text' (La Galerie, Paris) and 'The Young People...' (GAM, Turin).

Pedraglio was Book Works' guest-editor with the project 'Time Machine' and just recently published 'The Object Lessons' (Mousse Publishing), a novella in collaboration with Nina Beier and Marie Lund. Pedraglio's first collection of short stories 'A man in a room spray painting a fly (or at least trying to)' will be published by Book Works in spring 2013.

For more details visit