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Antonio Riello

Politically Incorrect

13.11.07 - 08.12.07

The widespread habit of carrying a weapon, one of the most fascinating paradoxes of the developed world today, brooks a host of interpretations.
We know that in countries like the US the phenomenon has achieved the dimensions of a national sport, with an estimated 34% of Americans having at least one firearm in their possession, bringing the number of weapons in circulation to an unreal two hundred million!
However, as far back as 2000, reliable sources and publications were reporting over three million firearms in circulation in Greece, two and a half million of them illegal. Of course, this was seven years ago, and there is every indication that the number has been rising ever since. Estimating a Greek population of no more than eleven million, the inescapable conclusion is that one in three Greeks has (or could have) access to a firearm.
That these three million weapons are actually used extremely rarely makes it clear that the most likely reasons for acquiring them (protection in certain professions, the intent to engage in criminal activities, hobbies like hunting or target shooting) actually apply to only a tiny percentage of cases. Consequently, for an overwhelming majority of gun owners, their weapons are fetish objects, not tools.
The Italian artist Antonio Riello is well-known for his allusive and sometimes playful approach to his subject-matter: common behaviours, views and interpretations. In this show, he once again explores the limits of the mechanisms underlying society’s designation of the acceptable and the unacceptable.
Politically Incorrect is a personal universe of firearms, revolvers, hand grenades and bullets adorned with precious stones and luxurious fabrics, and of high aesthetic dinner services decorated with depictions of the tools of war.
Riello uses authentic materials in his attempt to recast the symbolism of weapons by literally transforming them in readiness for new uses totally unrelated to their traditional function--the expression of basic instincts; uses in which they serve a purely aesthetic, rather than sensual, experience.
As Criminology professor Giannis Panousis writes in his introduction to the exhibition catalogue, the artist is attempting “to familiarize us with the art, rather than the technique, of the weapon. To draw our attention to its artistry, its colours and combos, its trim, adornments and nomenclature”.
A exhibition of jewellery by Ileana Makri will accompany the show, entitled Pistols and Lovegrenades.