Dario Robleto: Alloy of Love

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Review

of an Exhibit

by Leslie Ellis

Published on January 07, 2009 , Modified on January 12, 2009

  • Description:

    In “Alloy of Love,” Dario Roberto weaves an incredibly thought provoking and soulful story of the impact of war(s) on everyday lives: the widow’s: the child’s: the father of the bride’s, and the soldiers’ lives as well.

    Each piece uses a wide range of materials, and symbols of love, across wars and across time: lace fragments from a mourning dress: pulp made of sweetheart letters, and carved bone and bone dust from every bone in the body. Each carefully crafted work teases out new meaning from the old. There is a spark of hope with the reinvention of materials infused with new life.

    Upon entering the exhibit I was pleasantly surprised by the bright objects in the exhibit cases and the complementary series of colorful record jackets displayed on the wall. I realized that, although I had been careful to avoid reading any reviews before attending the exhibit, I had already established an expectation of darkness due to the website photo and blurb.

    Roberto’s works are haunting, evocative narratives of the traumatizing blow that war has on life and love. He holds nothing back. Creatively and poetically he explores these losses through an undercurrent of humor and music: loss of limb, loss of love, loss of life.

    While most of the exhibit addresses the themes of war and love, just when I thought I’d experienced too much darkness I would turn a corner and find a lighthearted piece such as Sometimes Billie is All that Holds Me Together. This is a colorful display of scattered buttons crafted from Billie Holiday vinyl records. Another lighthearted piece is, The Diva Surgery, an emotionally stimulating, three-dimensional, visualization of sounds found on Diva vintage record recordings including Yoko Hums and Janis Hisses.

    Throughout the exhibit I could hear the fuzzy sound of a radio playing voices, then music, repeating endlessly and permeating every corner of the show. It was not too loud, but it was definitely a presence. This Vatican Radio was the last piece on my meandering path. The recording is that of the first number being called for the draft lottery of WWII. As is the case in all of Roberto’s pieces, he says, “The labels are not secondary to the object.” Here the radio dial reflects the dates of wars. You can “Tune into your favorite. . .” He transformed this viewers thinking and seeing again and again.

    Skillfully light and well-paced the exhibit allows one to make his or her way freely from object to object. Did the artist choose the height of the labels? Is the label’s point size intentionally small (not the title type but the secondary type)? This forces the viewer to lean in and get intimate.

    I did appreciate that the staff were available when I was in the exhibit. I was thankful for the extra step that one staff member took to go get the Audio Guide as this was not on hand or offered (or the Viewer’s guide) upon check-in. Nor was there any Audio Guide Signage visible anywhere. I found the guide an enlightening addition. It helped me to appreciate the artist’s connections between his life and work, especially the impact September 11 had on his thinking, strategy and his choice of artistic materials. By listening to the guide I was able to gain an additional layer of meaning and appreciation for his work.

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