Lost items

by ILDE MANUELA PAOLUCCI

The term objet trouvé , “found object” in Italian, indicates an object of common use that an artist extrapolates from its context, recognizing a certain aesthetic value, and then exhibits it as a work of art. It is a practice very similar to the readymade , which began with the Dada movement and then became common among the Surrealists. According to George Heard Hamilton , in Painting and Sculpture in Europe: 1880-1940 of 1967, it seems that for the artists of the time an objet trouvé could “open new windows on the seas of the psyche”.
But what is considered art? What is beautiful and worthy, then, to be shown?
In the 1980s, the German photographer, screenwriter and director Miron Zownir moved to New York. Before his eyes was presented the image of a city at the mercy of chaos: rampant poverty; prostitution and erotic cinemas around every corner; the advent of AIDS and the ubiquitous intersectional protests following Stonewall and, more generally, the 1960s. It is easy to deduce how, between decadence and continuous demonstrations for the affirmation of civil rights, the gap between the "right-thinking" and the forgotten was increasingly marked. But it was precisely the "mole of society" that attracted Zownir who, fascinated and intrigued, began to photograph the invisible , those Americans refused to see. Considered the "poet of radical photography", he imprinted his objets trouvés on film, elevating them to art and giving them a new dignity, showing their charm to the public.
Is it therefore possible to provide a universal and clear definition of "beauty", when even the canonically ugly can be aesthetically appreciable?
I think not, but I think it's not a problem. I think it is necessary, instead, to change one's gaze on the world, the perception of defects , identifying oneself with the artist's eye just enough to find our objet trouvé.

NYC, 1982

© Miron Zownir