Arturo Schwarz - " La Memoria del Viaggio"

edizioni BORA - Bologna

My friendship with Fabio De Sanctis dates back to more than thirty years ago. In December 1965 I visited the Paris International Exhibition of Surrealism, to which Fabio had been invited. The show, the last which André Breton conceived, was indeed his spiritual testament and was very properly titled L'Écart absolu. The title came from a sentence written by the XIX utopian philosopher Charles Fourier and aimed at stressing the extreme distance and the insurmountable distance separating the Surrealist vision of life and art from the common one.

Since then I have been passionately following De Sanctis' complex, labyrinthal and multimedial itinerary. Any path he starts seem to me an example of the conscious fancy with which he answers the need of the "extreme difference" extolled by Fourier.

To Surrealists like Fabio, that means a statement of faith in women, poetry and revolution, and, as far as the creative process is concerned, a systematic resort to the psychological automatism, to chance, to the conjugations of opposites and the so called irrational.

That is the reason why Fabio and myself, we have planned a monograph consistent with the ideal of the "écart absolu", and far from any trite convention. A new formula was needed, and what could be better than the one suggested by the psychological automatism cherished by Surrealists? An automatism of the psyche, and consequently of the thought, too, an idea calling the other just as it happens with cherries. At the very first the idea has been to give free way to a new kind of interview inspired to a verbal automatism. In front of the sculptures (or of the photos portraying them) we both have said what was coming into our mind.

Our thoughts have confronted one another, interpreted one another, eluded one another. A dialogue has started where each of us was following the train of his own thought. Sometimes the trains of thought ran in parallel, sometimes they got tied to one another so that hidden meanings could be recovered. That is the way how my (but I should say our) introductory text was born, with its title recalling to the memory a triple journey, the one of Fabio's existence, the one we have made amongst his works and the one of our conversation.

One idea calls the other, as we said. And the need was felt to close the transcription of our conversation with a few additional chapters which would allow the reader to get to know other sides of Fabio's creativity. There are sides indeed which we ignored or just hinted at during our meeting just because of their rational character. That is why a largely illustrated biography comes before "our text", a section which will provide the reader with elements essential to follow the facts and the works we described in our conversation. After "The memory of the journey", illustrated by a large number of plates, a chapter follows devoted to what Breton used to call "le mystère du meuble".

Some of the most representative works De Sanctis has made during that stage are reproduced and commented by significant articles written by some leading Surrealist scholars, poets and artists. In order of appearance: André Breton, Philippe Audoin, Robert Benayoun, José Pierre, Jean-Claude Silbermann, Radovan Ivsic, Alain Joubert and Joyce Mansour.

Once examined the itinerary through Fabio's plastic production is over, his happenings are examined and his presence in urban spaces. Here, too, a precious photographic documentation allow the reader to take part, even if only virtually, to such involving and lively activities. The filmography closing the chapter devoted to De Sanctis' artistic production obeys to the same criterion on which the structure of the whole monograph is based. The rigorous reconstruction of events is accompanied by a great number of illustrations: an image is worth one thousand words, as a Chinese say runs.
To close the book, one act of compliance with convention has been necessary.

Data related to Fabio's exhibitions had to follow together with a critical anthology featuring articles by Enrico Crispolti, Giorgio Cortenova, Radovan Ivsic and Annie Le Brun, Edouard Jaguer, José Pierre. The bibliography and the catalogue raisonné, perfectly edited by Arianna Di Genova, are indeed a final, necessary and precious addition to the book.

Arturo Schwarz
October 1996