Wherever you send Salvatore Arancio (b. 1974 Catania, lives and works in London), he will uncover strange facts, things and stories. Arancio’s exhibition harks back to a trip he made to Mexico in 2015, the original purpose of which was to visit the Cave of Giant Crystals. The caverns located below the Naica Mine in the Northern part of the country, contain the biggest natural crystals known on Earth. Unfortunately the site was closed in 2009 due to security reasons and despite several efforts, no exception could be made for the visiting artist. Nevertheless, Arancio’s fictional reading of the cave became the leitmotif for part of his exhibition at Kunsthalle Winterthur, extended by a video investigating an old Mexican fertility rite called Danza de los Voladores.

The cave inspired Arancio to a new installation comprising of more than thirty individual ceramic works titled These Crystals Are Just like Globes of Light. Also part of Arancio’s exhibition is his video El Mago (2015), which depicts the inside of a cave in various light hues. The sequences, filmed by Arancio himself, are superimposed with animations extrapolated from Turning a Sphere inside Out, a 1977 American educational film that features basic three-dimensional organic grid structures or nebula-like light bodies. The strategy to use the most basic forms as representations for an intelligence superior to mankind is often found in science fiction: in Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1969), a whole plasma planet is one gigantic conscious entity; in an early Star Trek episode dating back to 1969 and titled The Lights of Zetar, a light nebula similar to those found in Arancio’s video manifest a superior intelligence.

Most of Salvatore Arancio’s works combine his own filming with found footage, often using cross-fades, multi-frame and multi-channel techniques. A similar strategy of collage is employed in the sound rendering, with a careful sampling of both existing and new sounds, tones and tunes. A second video, also entitled And These Crystals Are Just like Globes of Light, is no exception and is based on the 1973 cartoon La Planète Sauvage, combining the subject of the cave with organic forms that seem to be the results of a mysterious creation.

Compared to light nebulas and foreign planets, Arancio’s video The Ascension (2016) appears rather down to earth, but the Danza de los Voladores, centre stage to it, has a similar bizarre effect on the viewer. Four men are shown attached to a rope, spinning down from a 30 metre high pole; they seem to be inspired by something that we do not understand anymore. No matter if it is about the hidden or the forgotten, the other or the extra-terrestrial: Salvatore Arancio’s work reads as a collection of forms, objects, sounds and images that serve as cyphers for an unknown or concealed secret knowledge.

Kunsthalle, 2016