Gino De Dominicis

Untitled (Attempt to Fly).
1969 (2021 print)

Carbon print, 48×67 cm
Courtesy Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan

One of the most versatile and complex of the Italian artists of the postwar period, Gino De Dominicis has left an impressive legacy,

a significant part of which explores questions of eternity, futility, and immortality. Untitled (Attempt to Fly) is an iconic example. The video of a man’s futile attempts to take off is accompanied by the artist’s comment: “For three years I kept repeating the same thing. Imightneverlearntofly,butifIaskmysontodoitandheask his sons, one of my descendants might figure it out.”

Although he did not allow his work to be photographed and usually refused to comment on it, in the case of Attempt De Dominicis explained, “Maybe because I cannot swim, I have decided to learn to fly.” His practice is built on such contradictions, demonstrating that all elements in the world are closely connected. He, better than anyone, understood that immortality—a key theme in his work—obviously means a clash with nature itself; with the laws of physics that structure it and crush all human attempts to overcome it. At the same time, Untitled (Attempt to Fly) contains an element inseparably connected to the very substance of time. Realizing the futility of his attempts, the artist delegated the mission to his offspring, directing his performance toward eternity—an eternity defined by the existence and continuation of the family. Indeed, the only means of overcoming time that is accessible to humans is through our descendants.