MASK is an artist’s book by Luciano Rigolini presenting an extensive series of grilles from American cars built between 1955 and 1962, a period in which developments in engineering technology ushered in unprecedented creative possibilities in automotive design. One conspicuous trend played up the fronts of vehicles, rendering them veritable sculptures in their own right.
It is this object-quality that interests Luciano Rigolini, a photographer who for several years now has stopped taking new pictures to devote his attention and creativity to reworking preexisting images. For MASK, Rigolini draws on a catalog of spare parts, scanning images of automobile fronts, accompanied by a caption indicating the year of manufacture and sometimes the brand or model, and abstracting them for his own artistic purposes.
The way in which the car fronts are “cut out” does not reflect any attempt to aestheticize: they are purely functional images, in black and white, which Rigolini prints in the center of a blank page.The absence of the rest of each vehicle–windshield, roof, wheels, etc. – produces an alienating effect: the car front is presented as a peculiar object, comical or menacing, gorgeous or ridiculous.
The forms sequentially presented in his book inevitably harken back to the golden age of outsized American automobiles, the quintessential symbols of a society and an era now irremediably consigned to the past. In this artist’s book, Rigolini individuates this vehicle of choice by means of a radical strategy of repositioning the photographic image in the contemporary aesthetic.
MASK allows for multiple readings and meanings, in a balance between conceptual rigor and visual sensuality.