The Game Room: A Tribute to Gino De Dominicis

February 7–April 3, 1999

In honor of the extraordinary Italian artist who disappeared between November 28 and 29, 1998, P.S.1 presents The Game Room, a project room including a painting, a video, and two important works by Gino De Dominicis (Ancona 1947–Rome 1998). The Game Room includes a poker table for the use of museum visitors, in memory of the artist’s love of gambling and his brilliant strategies.

Gino De Dominicis’ career is one of the most enigmatic of any late twentieth-century artist. Since his first exhibition in the mid-‘60s he actively tried to dissociate himself from Conceptualism, Arte Povera, and other concurrent art movements. His small but remarkable body of works includes several installations and number of drawings and paintings. No catalogs have been published about his work, with the exception of a publication he produced with the Galleria L’Attico in Rome on the occasion of what was to be known as his first solo exhibition in November 1969. A second publication was later made in 1998 by Mazzoli gallery in Modena with tiny, almost invisible reproductions.

De Dominicis’ work is stunning for its complete continuity with his life and personality and for its obsessive contemplation of death and immortality. De Dominicis announced his own “death” in November 1969 in the form of an obituary poster. This was followed by a series of greeting cards sent to his friends wishing them immortality of the body on Christmas 1971. Such works provide a startling background to his death this winter.

For P.S.1’s tribute to De Dominicis, audiences will have the opportunity to see an untitled piece consisting of a watch with a mirror replacing its face and hands. This work creates a literal analogy to the passage of time: the process of aging. On view will be Ubiquity (1970): two opaline blue vases, one placed on a shelf against the wall, the other on the floor below. Also included will be a video made with Gary Schum in 1969 titled Attempt to Fly in which De Dominicis is shown flapping his arms, trying to fly off a low rock. The artist believed that if he repeated this exercise, eventually one of his descendants might be able to fly. The Game Room also includes two never before shown paintings, Opera Ubiqua and Untitled which present a metaphor of immortality.

All of De Dominicis’ oeuvre, in fact, relates to realizing the impossible. Each work attempts to defy apparent laws of nature, such as reaching the immortality of the body, flying, causing the disappearance of a person during a lecture, presenting invisible objects, making squares instead of circles by throwing a stone repeatedly into water with this aim in mind, etc.

Noteworthy among De Dominicis’ other sometimes shocking and obscure works is the installation he presented in 1972 at the Venice Biennale titled The Second Solution of Immortality (The Universe is Immobile). This piece consisted of a young man with Down’s Syndrome sitting in a chair in a corner across the room from a pair of identical twins. On the floor were Rubber ball, Fallen from two meters high the Moment Immediately Prior to its Bouncing (1969), and a Rock Awaiting a General and Random Molecular Movement in a Single Direction that could cause Spontaneous Movement of Matter (1969). With this piece De Dominicis intended to condense in a single room the results of chance and probability, the creators of normalities and abnormalities, and to present different experiences of the passage of time, as for instance in the Down’s sense of time as an eternal presence.

 

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center thanks Blatt Billiards, New York for generously loaning the poker table for this important tribute.