Anthony Cioe Essay by Robin Rice

Anthony Cioe Essay by Robin Rice

Anthony Cioe
Winter 2005 Fellow

“Glass is beautiful,” Anthony Cioe says, “but you should use it for a reason specific to a piece. I try to grab and hold on to ideas that have the potential to become valuable. I find a lot of value in experimenting and breaking things or failing.” This thought is noteworthy in the light of Cioe’s fascination with using art to literally heal objects which have been broken in the past.

A Winter, 2005 Resident Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America, Cioe is less concerned with the finished work than with the journey of making it. Or, perhaps more accurately, for him the finished product is meaniguful as a reflection and record of the making of it. Cioe enacts his interest in the body, in the past, and in “things that are ubiquitous to our life” in a number of ways.

Objects of scant monetary or sentimental value in most circumstances, broken bottles have provided Cioe with material and subject matter. In the series “Wilt,” displayed as an installation on Plexiglas shelves, he attempted to reassemble shards of broken glass by fusing them into blown vessels designed to replicate the original forms of the bottles. Using a semi-archaeological approach, he researched the original shapes and made molds (“prosthetics for the bottle”) into which he blew the recreated forms incorporating the shards. The completed vessels were displayed and lighted so that an enlarged network of mends or scars was projected against the walls along with the animated shadows of viewers, engaging them as participants in the work in a time-based manner. Thus, Cioe was able to connect a series of disparate events involving the same objects: the original manufacture of functional vessels, the use, destruction, and discarding of the objects, new reconstruction of non-functional versions, and behaviors of a contemporary audience.

Cioe extends his archaeological research to making a “Bottle Map’ showing where the broken bottles were found, but his installation title tells the story: of much of his work: My Archaeology Is the Everyday Life Around You. He plans to continue the project using bottles found in New York City.

In another series, fragments of deliberately broken new glass objects “designed in anticipation of their own demise” are displayed within bell jars. Cioe speaks of a “controlled breakage” similar to the carefully opening of a soft boiled egg and of “treating the glass as a little less precious.”

The irregular shards contrast with the elegant precision of Cioe’s blown containers. These pieces may perhaps embody an homage or commentary on present-day archeological methodology, the kind which attempts to privilege ordinary objects used by ordinary people as equal in interest and value to the extraordinary possessions of the elites. A small punt or kick in the top of the sheltering “bell” (really, of course, a glass hood) is pierced with holes allowing Cioe to tether the shards from monofilament which extends up through the holes to the ceiling of the gallery. The result is an ambiguous relationship between moveable container and the stationary contained.

At CGCA, Cioe is working on several projects. He plans to use glass tubes to build flags, mirrorizing surfaces which may reflect the colors of a real flag which could be mounted across from the mirroring glass flag. He also plans to execute Braille in glass

He also proposes to use “the entropy within the material” of hollow glass tubing. Breaking some tubes and partly re joining them. In some cases the parts of the broken tube will be pulled together into the original form. In others, a distance of air separates them. “I could leave some of them whole and fill them with my own blood or something else,” he speculates, envisioning the frisson of mingling the technologies of science and art.

Such historic tropes of scientific and technological presentation and inquiry furnish much of his material and the integration of these behaviors, disassociated from their intended function, into his work process heightens one’s consciousness of their artifice and possible emptiness. It draws attention to the idea that actions, protocols, and behaviors, even if they are called “scientific,” are not neutral but, rather, richly expressive of what is valued.

In a 2002 project, Conversation, Cioe encouraged live crickets to compete with recordings of their own chirping broadcast through glass megaphones. The meaningless yet accelerating exchange seems to sum up the metonymy of scientific futility which is implicit in many of his works. However, Cioe’s interest in archaeology and preservation also emphasizes a more healing attitude. One project he planned to work on at CGCA, the “conservation of cracked boulders” is reminiscent of Vija Celmins trompe l’oeil reproductions of pebbles. Cioe plans to locate rocks which have fractured naturally and cast the sections in crystal. He may match the prosthetic crystal sections with the originals, making two boulders which are half crystal and half rock.