Luca Coclite at Toast Project Space / Florence

Luca Coclite, Concerto
di Fabbrica

by Toast Project Space

14 – October 15, 2023

Toast Project Space
Via delle Cascine, 35, Firenze

believe that the Apulian territory – the Salento area in particular –
like few others on the
is characterized, articulated, and in a certain way “lives”,
under the sign of the trace.
through its places means coming across, at once, what has been, what
remains and, without too much imaginative effort, what might be. A
weaving of heterogeneous traces, integrated into a single body, that
bears witness to an interaction between natural and anthropic
dimensions without equal.
It is
natural to say that the territory of Salento reveals by images the
violent conflictuality which characterizes the relationship between
nature and culture. Conflict that can also take the form of poignant
astonishment, as in the case of the erasure, due to time and
humidity, of the frescoes in the Basilica of Santa Caterina in
Galatina, as well as in the evidence of a destructive imbalance.
Proof of this are the effects of the radical changes due to an
entirely tourist economy and to the phytosanitary problems with
resulting forms of desertification which, in recent years, have
dramatically marked the structure of this ecosystem, but we will come
back to that.
Coclite’s research, through different aesthetic and narrative
strategies, takes on the task of untangling and critically analyzing
this warp of traces, to recover the complexity of a territory
radically transformed and, above all, to restore the historical and
political implications of this process. In that sense, when I think
about the artist’s path, I must admit that in this exhibition he
seems to muddle up the cards. Not thematically, of course, but
most significant works – or at least those that in my eyes
distinguish hisresearch
– share a kind of deliberate coldness, detachment, often generated
through the
of images as elements of large-scale projects.
di Fabbrica is not about the staging of an abstract gaze but an
attempt to construct an haptic and physical experience. And it is not
limited to the simple fact that these works are sculptures, they are
instead the result of a conception and narration based on their
creation process and historical origin. In the series Ceramiche
, in fact, the artist creates an original sculptural
complex by referring to the great tradition of the potter’s culture.
On the one hand he takes up its intrinsic communicative function over
its original one, on the other he gives each element a degree of
spatial and morphological sculptural autonomy. Three large vases
whose presence in space activates a reflection to be read both
through what they graphically display, as well as through their form.
Each of them bears, as pictorial decorations, signs, writings, –
traces – that the artist has found traveling through some places dear
to him. It has become a recent habit of his to look for symbols,
political slogans, or simple words that have survived from bygone
eras, on the aforementioned walls eroded by time and moisture, with
the power of unexpected testimonies, almost like Warburg’s
Pathosformeln. Traces that unfold the narration in three central
moments: the historical, political and cultural vicissitudes of an
entire territory from the beginning of the last century to the
phrase “Viva Colosso Adolfo deputato”, dating back to 1901,
appears on the first ceramic. It was found on a wall in the
historical center of Ugento, in the province of Lecce. Adolfo Colosso
was a landowner entrepreneur and olive grower, appreciated by many
for his contribution to the innovation of the local agriculture.
second vase is decorated with the inscription found in Galatina,
“Decreti Gullo”, in reference to an important but forgotten
figure in Italian politics and southern history. Fausto Gullo, a
reform-minded communist, was minister of agriculture immediately
after the fall of Fascism and became best known for the so-called
“Gullo Decrees,” which initiated in the south, therefore
also in Salento, a process that led to the end of latifundia in favor
of agricultural cooperation as demanded by the farmers’ movements.

last vase is surmounted by a lid composed of 5 handles ending in the
shape of an Acanthus leaf which is a common feature of the “Pumo”,
a traditional Apulian object, now a typical good luck souvenir. This
vase is marked in red along the belly as it explicitly recalls the
red markings on trees affected by Xylella, a bacterium that has
devastated Italy’s most important oil-producing region.
works present traces, as flashes of memory, of a seemingly forgotten
history, politics, and economy – namely the intrinsic value of
working the land, and the events associated with it – and compose a
path that ends, I think, in a form of ironic symbolism.
In the
closed and seemingly ready vase, there are in fact contrasting
elements that clearly evoke both touristification, as an idea of
development, and the crisis of an ecosystem that was once quite the
opposite: a clear image of a paradoxical present caught in the
ambivalence between the optimism towards an already lame industrial
and strategic monopoly and the evidence of the substantial breakdown
of a balance between man and nature that is now difficult to heal.
I have
just anticipated above that such a historical-mnemonic narrative is
not developed only through the decorative elements chosen for each
work. The great strength of the vases is also given by their
sculptural presence and the linguistic solutions adopted by Coclite:
on the one hand, the formal resumption of the traditional vases that
contained oil, wine and wheat – centuries-old cornerstones of the
Salento economy -, but mostly the choice to create them without
handles. Vases made not usable through which the artist wants to
allude to an actual loss of grip, of contact with practical living
and of what is real in general.
And it
is perhaps in this metaphorical use of the object, with reference to
the impossibility of making a use of it, that the analytical
coldness, typical of Coclite’s work, emerges in a language that is
now purely sculptural.

exhibition closes with the work that enables us to understand its
title. Gentil Drone is
sound installation composed of nine air pianos programmed by timers.
The keyboards are operated by debris of furnishings and, not by
chance, by handles made of decorated terracotta: the loop generates a
texture of sound that pervades the space and spreads out like a
requiem for a territory that seems to have lost touch with its own
values and its own cultural and political history.
Ceramiche Popolari
crystallizes key moments of an issue that has
the concert, providing a context for the sculptures, seems perhaps to
suggest a glimpse into the future where – on a path already traced –
what was originally associated with popular, ordinary, identifying
tasks will inexorably become furniture, ornament, souvenir.
brief final remark cannot ignore the context in which this exhibition
is taking place.
di Fabbrica, actually, is not limited to the development of a
reflection on historical and morphological changes circumscribed to
the Salento area. There is no doubt that Coclite’s works themselves
tell us this, but it is also true that the exhibition space
influences their legibility, expanding their boundaries and
perspectives. Thus, Manifattura Tabacchi does not function as a mere
container of a self-referential narrative, but expands its field and
raises the stakes. The concert we are witnessing is the memorial of
an Italy that, in its centuries-old ambiguities, no longer exists:
archaeology of territories now reconverted for speculative purposes,
archaeology of an industrial power that is now little more than a

Text by Enrico

Luca Coclite
(1981, Gagliano del Capo, LE, IT) lives and works in Lecce. Has been
active since 2006, has participated in several exhibitions and
residence for artists such “legami” as “Centro Cultural Borges”
of Buenos Aires or “Experimental Intermedia” of New York on a
scholarship by “NCTM e L’Arte”. He has been involved since many
years in many artistic projects, national and international, both as
an artist and as a curator, such as “Ramdom”, “Casa a Mare”
and “Studioconcreto”. His work has been exhibited in various
foundations and museums such as the la Galleria Nazionale in Rome and
Fondazione del Monte in Bologna.