Subversive for Fun
Taking into account an imaginary ranking of the most demanding sporting events, the Cobbled Classics would certainly appear in the Top Ten. At Paris-Roubaix - also called the Queen of the Classics or the Hell of the North - riders drive 52 kilometres out of 250 on cobblestones dating back to the Napoleonic era. So it is no surprise if at the end of the race the winner is given a huge sampietrini to raise to the sky to… celebrate the victory. A tool used in many battles and uprisings, from 1968 onwards, in this case the sampietrini takes on a symbolic value linked to physical effort thus turning into a trophy awarded to the best athlete.
The analysis of the relation between athletic gesture and violent gesture is central to the three works displayed by Franco Ariaudo. In Vainqueurs the ambiguity residing in the image of a cyclist walking with a cobblestone in his hand is strengthened by the presence of sampietrini that can be seen both as trophies and as potential weapons. In Pitchers one of the basic athletic gestures, throwing, is the object of a series of drawings that cast once more an ambiguous light on this gesture. The drawings themselves are targed by the throwing of paint eggs, another tool commonly employed in streets protests. As for Decathlon, we could speak of a dress code for rioters or rather how to put together a defensive emergency body armour - inspired by the riot police ones - by choosing among the sports equipment featured on the catalogue of the famous French company. (Fabio Cafgna/Bruno Barsanti, abstract from the catalog).