Ethical Bros is a multimedia art project, which took place in the period between 1996 and 2002. With the pivotal partnership between Federico Baronello and Maurizio Leonardi, the project developed further collaborations such as that with Massimiliano Sapienza (aka massimo).
Ethical Bros are interested in manipulation of the medium and supports, working on redundancy and reiteration of images, with a markedly “installational” emphasis to what they do. The work of the ethical brothers Federico Baronello and Maurizio Leonardi rests on the awareness of belonging to a total, homologating system, pushing their artistic analysis and intervention to the point where the practice of representation itself is considered the only object worthy of being represented. The choice of easily reproducible supports (digital video, graphic files, hypertext, videotapes, offset silkscreen matrices, etc…) is in line with the artists’ aim of forcing the outer limit, that’s to say the “frame”, of the work, constraining themselves, the medium in use, the audience involved, to declare, each time, their limits, collocation and real intentions.
Felicita Platania, text for the exhibition catalogue of ‘Unframed’, Palazzo della Triennale, Milano 1999.
100% (video remix), digital video 6’, 1997. A collection of images from the crime pages on the Sicilian newspapers. Criminal mug shots and dead victims, one after another through morphing transitions. The purpose of the work is to focus on the potential of visibility of signals, conveyed by the Media, which can provide an identity (in this case Sicily = Mafia but could also be Islam = Terrorism), while waiting for the evolution of the same surrogate identity into a dignified form.
©onciliation!, digital video (20’30”) + mixed media, 2000. ©onciliation! is the setting of a television studio, in which is displayed a talk-show, inside an art gallery. This setting reproduces the elements of a bar reduced to the essential: the bar and the table. Guests who have an institutional role in the Sicilian public life sit at the table. They are opposed to those at the bar, which in the pilot episode Sicilian Hospitality is occupied by foreigners who for years have been living and working in Sicily. Two TV monitors, projecting the talk-show demo reel, obstruct the entry on the set whose elements refer to the language of contemporary art (Pistoletto, Naumann, Tracey Emin, Maurizio Cattelan…). On the other site there’s a working table on which are displayed research materials, a mural painting with the ETHICAL Bros logo and the casting photos hang on the walls. ©onciliation! seeks to highlight, through the televised debate, contradictions, which are economical, cultural or arising from the relationship between local and global, in the Sicilian society, showing them as they are. In this way, as a paradox, ETHICAL Bros aspires to follow the narrative path traced by the masters of the Italian Neorealism.
Sicily: Tourism, Culture and Enhancement (in the works of J.W. Goethe and W. von Gloeden), documentary movie, SD 11’30”, 2000. In his Italian Journey, Goethe searches for the archetype of all plants, while immersed in the Botanic Gardens of Palermo, and for the archetype of the Western thought, considering the Odyssey epic while travelling around Sicily. Wilhelm von Gloeden, a German photographer living in Taormina in the early ‘900, is famous for having depicted the local youth, mostly with nude and equivocal poses, within neo-classical landscapes and settings. Under the Mediterranean sky both travellers free themselves from their own moral constraints through the exploitation of an idealised Sicily of classic origins. They act according to those industrial societies that, also through the exploitation and trade of resources from their colonies, were developing economies once only aimed at the production of goods for mere subsistence.