“The main role of visual arts has for many centuries been the representation of power. It is still is a remarkable task for artists.”

    If it is not directly the subject of the work, simply its ownership will tell the tale, as it reflects the power of money and the power of elitist selection. Artworks function in the same way as other lifestyle brands, which become our consumer identity, and which is pretty much ‘googlable’ today.

    According to Antonio Riello we have moved from the idea of politically (un-) correct to aesthetically (un-) correct. The debate has moved on from ‘form over function’ to ‘style versus contents’ – and no vice versa. Add a ‘vintage’ notion, and you’re onto a double winner.


    “Display Dictatorship is the pacemaker of our collective emotions, from joy to angst.“ As citizens of the world, we are requested, encouraged, if not finally forced by sheer unavoidability - to display our values and be readable. Who isn’t com­mercially decipherable, becomes a threat to society.

  • Who doesn’t conform with the notions of super consumption will marginalize his or her contribution to the gross national product, and hence becomes a citizen of lesser value. While filling our bags, houses, pockets with senseless overproduction, endless inventions of often close to futile and almost exclusively shortlived products, we watch said production des­troying the very world we live in.

    Antonio Riello’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is a ritual destruction of something he deeply cares for; apart from the individual books of his personal library, that would be a represen­tation of the basis of Western Culture as we know it. Read it as you willl. Are books obsolete now that we can read their contents on kindle, tablets, phones, computers?

    ‘You are what you read’ used to be a going judgment of the bourgeouisie, but global democratization made such values ‘vintage’ and replaced them with the current notion of ‘you are what you earn’ allowing only ‘and how you choose to show it’ as subjective input of so-called individuality.

    Incinerating traditional culture therefore can be read as counter-consumerist rebellion, but Riello adds another level by carefully chosing individually blown Murano glass urns similar to glass reliquaries to capture and display his strictly worldly biblioclasm.

  • A hint of transformation rather than straightforward destruction lingers. Once read, what becomes of the word? An idea, a thought, a story, retold? Once burnt, does it create a yearning for what we have lost, rather than waiting to be read - or re-read - on our book shelve, one, in the company of many?

    Antonio Riello specializes in disection expressions of our contemporary culture and re-rendering them in a new constellation, adding, always, an element of ambiguity and unease. We should all have a Riello on our book shelves, if only to inspire us to question how we relate to our own value-symbol radiation that we unavoidably subsede to, every day.

    A cheeky idea springs to mind. To avoid the cost maybe I could make a fake Riello myself. A real basic version. Burn one of my books, lock it into a jam glass and place it on the shelf above the computer. Two questions arise : A - would I physically be able to bring myself to do it? The idea feels blasphemic, forbidden, fills me with horror. B – And if I did, now, what would that say about me? `— Antonio?

    Uscha Pohl

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