The Padiglione di Arte Contemporanea (PAC) has moved from the Abramovic method of emotion and physical experience to the Lassry method of silence and in vitro images. The contrast between the two back-to-back shows — first the performance madame, and now the young Israeli artist (born in 1977) — could not be stronger, at least formally. In different ways, both artists adopt a personal strategy of resistance to the assault of today's communications and image culture. Abramovic's therapeutic suspension from continuous connectivity allowed us to rediscover the most unexplored crevices of our bodies, and is echoed by the immobility and disturbing perfection of Lassry's hyper-artificial images, photographs, and frames, which invite the viewer into a dialogue.
Lassry works in different media. He began with photography and 16 mm film and then moved on to sculpture, architecture, design and performance. His images are constructed with great care but are not supplemented with explanations of their origins or vision. Lassry is interested in working on the image's relationship with the world around it and wants to stimulate thinking about the act of seeing, the creation of the representation and viewers' ever-changing reactions to it. He triggers short-circuits and disrupts our habitual hyper-rapid interaction with images.
To do so, Lassry combines familiar elements with artificial contexts. He revisits still life and portraiture. He creates three-dimensional effects with the use of colour, reflection and frames to slow down the viewer's eye and set off a search for new meanings. This technique is evident in the show's most significant works, dating from 2008 to the present: Yellow Plinth, Wave Length, Woman (Green Bow), Short Ribs, Eggs, Cherries, Dustin Christens. Egg containers afloat on water are reflected with dissonant colors. Beef ribs replace traditional still life subjects. A woman with a strange hat and a bottle in the foreground stares at us, smiling. A bare-chested boy appears to be seated on hole in photographic space.
Lassry plays with forcefully conveyed images from the world of publishing, film, television and school to open new critical horizons. "My vocabulary also comes from culturally established vocabularies," he says. "Obviously everyone takes them from different places and in different ways, but they don't have roots in the imagination; they have a foundation in the language of conceptual art, art history, advertising, Hollywood... They also come from meditation."
The succession of works in the PAC show heightens the viewers' need to slow down and deepen their understanding of the idea underlying the images. The pieces are well-spaced along the walls, inviting viewers to take all the time they need to get in touch with the world of suggestions they contain. Four films dating from between 2007 and 2010 interrupt the rhythm. Curator Alessandro Rabottini chose to place a film in four separate rooms. They are all silent. The characters have no voices and the music has no sound. Again, the artist wants to concentrate on image layering. The gesture's communicative beauty is the result of careful choreography. So, it is not surprising that his most recent film, Untitled (Passacaglia), is based on the study of Doris Humphrey's choreography.
If Lassry does nothing more with the photo and the frame than attempt to create a kind of mental space, his interest in physical space and our relationship with it — already revealed in three-dimensional treatments of photographs — is even more evident in the site-specific installation at the PAC. Untitled (Wall, Milan Blue) is a successful example of how the artist extends the frame device to the exhibition space. Blue ceramic and tape sculptures, all similar but with subtle differences, are aligned along the wall. A series of black and white images by Anthony Perkins, apparently identical but with slight variations, can be observed from the wall's physical limit. It is an invitation to look and look again, to stop and search for hidden relationships in one's own mind and imagination. In today's era of pixels and cyberculture, Lassry's is a radical act in traditional media. Loredana Mascheroni