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There is no morality here

by Carlotta Vacchelli

Gabriele di Benedetto, AkaB (1976-2019), esprimeva, nella ricerca artistica e nell’instancabile attività professionale, tensioni discordi, pulsioni centripete, dinamiche contraddittorie.

Gabriele Di Benedetto, AkaB (1976-2019), expressed in his artistic research and tireless professional activity, discordant tensions, centripetal drives, contradictory dynamics.

This is recounted by the many voices active in the various comics professions that have contributed to the project AkaB: There is no morality here: illustrators, scriptwriters, animators, publishers, graphic designers, festival organisers, collectors, gallery owners, curators and other more or less visible promoters of the Ninth Art remember him as a key personality in the most recent phase of Italian and international comics history. Those who dwell on the multitude of experiences to which AkaB gave impetus and structure, those who recall his overflowing creative restlessness, those who grasp his constant transformation through techniques, styles, media of events, remaining, in experimentation, always faithful to its inspiration: the analysis - explicit, but never complacent, desperate because devoted to disenchantment without patheticism, cynical and delicate at the same time - of the painful, unstable multitude of forms that make up our interiority. (…)

In homage to the obsessively repeated mantra in Monarch, a controversial exhibition project that AkaB curated during his lifetime (Bilbolbul, 2014), the exhibition AkaB: There is no morality here proposes a selection of works aimed at providing an overview of AkaB’s aesthetics described in the above terms, in a lively desire to act with care and delicacy, offering a perspective motivated on the basis of field research and accurate interpretations of the work of an author whose loss has not precluded an important legacy. To this end, an exhibition organised in six thematic sections is proposed. In homage to the Stigma project initiated by the cartoonist and absorbed by the Eris publishing house, Stigmate is dedicated to the bodies of AkaB's comics, in particular the splatter aesthetics that characterise several of the scenes of death and torture that fill his work; Claustrophobia offers and episodic view of the views (architecture, panoramas, interiors) that form the backdrop of the events, as in the short story of the collective publication Dylan Dog Color Fest #16 (Bonelli, 2016), centred on erotic drawing, recurrent in AkaB’s aesthetic, Are you lonesome tonight? pays homage to the Elvis Presley song for which the author curated the comic book adaptation of the same name; Dummies emphasises AkaB-style interpretations of pop icons that punctuate several works, from entirely dedicated vignette catalogues (Pop Guerrilla, Sputnik, 2019), to the influence of mainstream comics that emerges in other works (e.g. Not an Atom, Sputnik, 2019): the title refers to the group Dummy (lit. ‘puppet’), co-founded by the author in 2012; a linguistic bisticism that, on the one hand, evokes the word ‘love’ and, on the other, refers back to the work Morgue (In your face, 2014), Amorgue collects the most overtly sentimental illustrations, plates and vignettes, in the dominant combination with the expression of death drives. Finally, Mica è facile (It’s not easy), groups together the various self-portraits of AkaB, as a character/authorial alter-ego, taking its title from an iconic autobiographical cartoon published in the aforementioned PopGuerrilla. Two pavilions of an editorial and formal nature, as a corollary to the original drawings, display a selection of the numerous collective projects undertaken by the author, such as magazines, fanzines and publishing labels: from the first editions of magazines in which the author was directly involved, to collaborations for which AkaB was exclusively responsible for the conception and scriptwriting, to giving the drawing to other authors such as Officina Infernale, Squaz, Cammello, Spugna, Dario Panzeri, Alberto Ponticelli.

Venue: Palazzo Ducale - Lucca