Mr Mauss’s ethno-anthropological research shows that in the exchange of gifts, it is not so much what is exchanged that matters as the way it is done.

The act of « Potlatch » (which means at the same time « to feed » and « to consume ») can not only consist of the exchange of gifts but can also bind the receiver of a gift and force him to give a “better” gift in return, a cycle which ends once one of the parties can no longer give.

The exchange is purely symbolic since it is non functional. Objects are not exchanged with a practical view, but to free one self of the state of « slavery » that is induced by want.

What is exchanged is never inert but has a « soul », the Mana or Hau, which does not belong to the object itself but relates to the giver. Out of time and the « archaic » context, Giuseppe Fabris proposes an exchange of gifts in which the primary object lies in and identifies with his own body.

After having split and mapped his full body, he sculpted each resulting part on Marseilles soap. He then boxed each piece and offered them to the public as a gift, with only one direction: to « return » the gift in the shape of a photograph of the receiver’s body part that matches one of the 229 pieces available.

The relational system is activated in the full sense of a participative-sharing act. and tries to reformulate in a hybrid form, a multiple and varied identity, to the point of ending up with the core of the recomposition of the final and definite image, ready to understand and redefine at the same time a collective and anonymous Corpus, sacred and profane, dilated and concentrated in an anomic prototype.

Roberto Daolio
June 2008