From 2005, Giuseppe shows a naked man, posing in front of the cold, anonymous façades of buildings that close off the space behind him. The work raises the issue of the body’s relationship to architecture and of the space granted to human beings in urban settings. The facades’ hermetic nature seems to be resisting the body, even though architecture is meant to be an extension of it. That impression of resistance is what grants greater reality to the body of the man in the foreground. Built by and for human beings, these buildings nevertheless bear witness to our erring ways. The obvious bond between the body and architecture seems to be broken. Rigid and cold, the view erases any sense of life, which can only cry out that it exists through the body of an elderly man, worn down by a borderline-hostile environment. Even a weakened, fragile body seems like a refuge, the ideal home for a self that accepts the modesty of its condition as a human being. While the body, by its very nature, is a problematic object in the sense that it raises questions, it also remains a reality that has faithfully accompanied us since the beginning. It is our natural habitat, like a shell for a mollusk. Paolo Topy seems to be telling us that here, echoing Francis Ponge’s comments in his poem Notes pour un coquillage (Notes for a Shell) from his 1942 book Le parti pris des choses (The Voice of Things): “I wish that man, instead of those enormous monuments that bear witness only to the grotesque disproportion of his imagination (…) would put some care into creating (…) a home that’s not much bigger than his body, than all his imaginations, his reasons being included therein, that he set his mind to adjustment, not disproportion — or, at the very least, that his mind would recognize the limits of the body that holds it up…”

Yves Peltier

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