Espoarte article (old press from 2006)

FELTUS FELTUS by Viviana Siviero, EspoArte No. 38 p. 40-41

The birth of a collective is always marked by the breath of destiny: the sum of two entities break loose from the union, that dance together in search of their most eloquent expression. Feltus Feltus are brothers, accidentally born under the same roof, in an affectionate nest animated by the haphazard air of art. Their products are a collection of various series of photographic images created with the use of traditional instruments, and animated short movies that can easily be considered films. Both represent a locomotive of the collective, continuously searching for a democratic and equal manner to allow their diversities to coexist.

Americans by birth, cosmopolitans by adoption, they breathed the air of Italian renaissance throughout their childhood. Tobias is more tied to photography and design, whereas Joseph to pondering and animation; their roles alternate in dominance during collaboration. In some manner their photographs evoke familiar yet unavoidable visions in the realm of art: Simone Martini, Filippo Lippi, but above all Paolo Uccello and Piero Della Francesca, who were focused on the struggle to overcome the limits of the newly discovered perspective. Most experiences in modern art give the feeling that they contain the DNA of a movement, almost disconnecting themselves from the lessons of classicisms for fear of getting labeled as a copy. Feltus Feltus are not afraid of quoting, succeeding in spontaneously pausing at the point of a suggestion, attractive and respecting.

That which issues forth is an autonomous world in which, from the shadows, elements take shape in the recognition of the psyche of the observer, on a subconscious level; an alterity suspended between dream and nightmare, metaphysics and somnambulism, in which the boundaries of reality lose their geography. Before the shot, the body is obliged, by he who is behind the mechanical eye, to take the “perfect position” through the calvary of tension: all that appears to our eye, even if it doesn’t seem so, is bodily, worked with double exposure and black drop-out. The bodies need to be totally controllable, and the two agents alternate the roles of director and victim. We are far from the narcissistic world where it is the subject to impose his own hedonism; it is the end result that is in control, which is obtained through an uncomfortable game. Both their film and photography is treated as if they were paintings: the fact that the tool used is a camera does not preclude bordering with other worlds, as it was for Cartier-Bresson who, graphically handicapped, made instant paintings with his camera. Feltus Feltus, applying the infinite possibilities that are open to them by the submersion in the outlines of blank paper, they coined a sort of post-divisionism, implemented with a contemporary medium by using the inherent grain of the film.

The search for a democratic synthesis that respects their differences has brought them to shots that suggest the magic of early stereoscopy, the first attempts of the mechanical eye to represent the tridimensionality of our vision, thought the pairing of two nearly identical images; Feltus Feltus (“instances”, 2005 series), alternating shots, freezing different instances of the same scene: the resulting images are like monozygote twins, they are identical in everything and yet cannot coincide. From single shot they pass on to video, and the level of difficulty increases: while the shots describe a single moment, concentrating on a lifetime the moving image has the duty to maintain the power of an instant for the period of all of the instances of which the film is made, as if each fleeting frame was one of the many undefined brush strokes that compose a painting.

“Solo Duets” ( directed by Joseph Feltus, built upon miniature portraits sculpted by Tobias Feltus, duration: 8.52 minutes ) creates a private and irresistible fascination, an incursion into a meta-reality where a melancholic soul mirrors himself in two distant ages, and thanks to a deep reflection, becomes tridimensional beings, distinct but simultaneous. A reflection on penitence, expressed via crepuscular scenes, nullified by the absence of light, but that also appear to come out of a hallucination. Dialogues are trusted to looks, to movements that are sometimes awkward, sometimes imperceptible, and to the music of a piano, an ambiguous element that contains, in its definition, a couple of opposites. The obliged parallel with the Brothers Quay is surprising, they also being American only by birth, also brothers (twins), also in love with surreal and disquieting universes and attracted by the aesthetic of sad-souled hollow doll heads. Once again Feltus Feltus surprise us with with a reference that is an evocative suggestion, but not a copy. The repeated entities recognize each other only to mutually compare themselves, in the musical presence of a piano that puts them to the test, making their failure obvious and irretrievable, a parable wonderfully expressed by the slow movement of the two bodies blindfolded: a now blind old man, guiding a young man who is still blind, in the direction of emptiness.

Written by Viviana Siviero (published in Espoarte No. 38 p. 40-41). Translated by Tobias Feltus

Tobias Feltus: