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Installation Fabrizio Plessiís Ice (1982) at at the Institut Valencià díArt Modern in Valencià
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THE WATER OF LIFE
by Donald Kuspit


Fabrizio Plessi is one of the pioneers of video art, but, just as importantly, he is a master of water -- the mythical stream of water Heracleitus said one could not step in twice, the water that is one of the four primary elements, the wetness that tradition thought the melancholiac lacked, the water that poured forth from a desert stone when Moses struck it -- the water without which there is no universe and life. Like a dolphin, or the boy who was rescued by one in Greek mythology, and was triumphantly carried on its back as it swam the seven seas, Plessi is astonishingly at ease with water. He never surrenders to its treachery, never submits to the siren song of its surface beauty, inviting one to plunge into its depths. Water, which hides death in its depths, and is traditionally a seductive feminine element -- tempting but deceptive -- has a certain masculine potency for Plessi. Waterfall (1976) suggests as much: one need not be overwhelmed by water to identify with its rushing power.

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