Viscosità Spagiriche. Dimensions variable. Tanned orange peels, pulverized orange peels, and laminated orange peels, wood glue, invisible thread, wire. 2022. Solo installation show at Finestreria in Milan, Italy curated by Claudia Ponzi.
The title, Viscosità Spagiriche, both references the high viscosity of orange juice with pulp –the starting point of the artistic process as the orange peels are collected from bars after freshly squeezed orange juice has been made— as well as positioning the work along with the idea of spagyric, the alchemical transformation of materials for the creation of medicine, just as DeBlassie transforms the orange peels into various states to make conceptual medicine from art to cure notions of contemporary excess. The orange peels are a symbol of this superfluity since they can be collected year-round even when they are out of season in Italy. For years, DeBlassie has been exploring the permutable and astatic nature of this material intended for mass consumption and assumed to have a lateral, linear, and static lifespan, i.e., born to be used and then used and then wasted. What interests DeBlassie in these materials is the opposite, the fact they exist within a spectrum of transmogrifications and transmutations, from one stage to the next. DeBlassie, instead, identifies and highlights the protean nature of material, in this case the orange peel, the fluid nature of the orange peel in its various stages of being, underlining within each physical phase a historical, philosophical, and environmental period that exists within it to complicate the narrative. Broken down into states of matter, all three major forms are on display, from gas to solid to liquid, all represented by a variegated manner of treating and working with the citrus skin: the orange peel in its gaseous state, meaning perfumatory and aromatic, something to be beheld and felt in the air, olfactory; and then there is the solid form of the orange peel, the skin retreated, layered and laminated with wood glue so as to be rendered permanent and wood-like, a plypeel building material; and finally, there is liquid form, the cascading flow of the orange peels designed to represent an enormously flowing cascade bursting with effluent life, referencing the cascades of Renaissance gardens, in a time in which the fruit was rare and therefore held great importance to only subsequently diminish in value overtime due to its ubiquity. In between all of this, there is the orange peel as a powder, somewhere between a solid and a gas, occupying an interstitial space, a purely ephemeral entity that somehow unites all of its states. The transformation of orange peels represents a possibility for a sustainable social transformation compatible with the rhythms of nature.
The images from her solo show represent views of her installation that contain The Peel is a Container and Cascade, Inside and Outside that her (other view two) images in the portfolio demonstrate a rendering of how DeBlassie would unite the orange peel crates with the orange peel cascades to create the Viscosità Spagiriche immersive installation where one could walk inside it for the Arte Laguna show at the Arsenale. The two images beside the rendering are other views from the show at Finestreria to show how the pieces conform to the space and to show the inside and outside of the peels in cascade form to better understand the rendering. The main image shows both the front and back side of the largest orange peels cascade with both the inside and the outside of the peels. The (other view one) show the view of the show’s first room where both the cascade and the laminated orange peel crates with an orange peel powder bottom can be seen.
Conceptually, The Peel is a Container that is part of the Viscosità Spagiriche installation was created from laminated and stitched orange peels with finisher and the orange peels in this work were also used as if they were wood or dust. The seemingly wooden texture of the crates recalls the pores of human skin. Hence the vision of interconnection between fruit and those who have allowed its fruition. A path full of physical effort, sacrifices and exploitation make the constant availability of oranges possible today. The bottom, made from orange peel powder, suggests the unsustainable precarity of the foundations of our economic, social, and political structure that will ultimately lead to the destruction of our environment if this process isn’t questioned. In Cascade, Inside and Outside that is part of the Viscosità Spagiriche the artist's attention shifts to the Renaissance era, in which cascades were a fundamental feature of the gardens as were orange trees that bore fruit that were precious assets, in contrast to the daily use of them today. This period also represented the capitalist foundations laid by the Medici family, financiers of Renaissance Florence and founders of the concept of the bank, which ties together the social fabric of capitalism, a system that DeBlassie is critical of in relation to the environment. The orange peel for DeBlassie is a symbol of change of cultural and economic value over time and how systems of value has led to the contemporary overabundance that must be questioned.