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Biography

Joseph Balletta Joseph Balletta (°1947, Queens, New York, United States) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, Balletta considers making art a craft which is executed using clear formal rules and which should always refer to social reality. His artworks sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, he makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor. His works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. By emphasizing aesthetics, he tries to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen to become the memory of an event that will never take place. His works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, his works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system. His works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By applying abstraction, he wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation. His works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. By focusing on techniques and materials, he tries to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, likes to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believes in the idea of function following form in a work. His works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in art. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, he investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination. His works are notable for their perfect finish and tactile nature. This is of great importance and bears witness to great craftsmanship. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, he creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles. His works doesn’t reference recognisable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. With a conceptual approach, he seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life. His works are given improper functions: significations are inversed and form and content merge. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. Joseph Balletta currently lives and works in Oregon.