Nostalgia Unraveled: Peter Nencini’s “Secondment” at Beginnings

Peter Nencini, “Puckered and hung wall work #3”

I walked into Peter Nencini’s show Secondment not quite knowing what to expect. (The show runs at Greenpoint’s Beginnings through March 10.) The images I’d seen featured fabrics and patterns, some of them seamless, others fraying. Was I about to see a deconstruction of tote bag culture? Some evocation of textile work past and present, with its associations of industry and labor?

Truth be told, the simplicity of Nencini’s work turned out to be deceptive. For me, what emerged from my visit to the gallery was a very different set of impressions and associations — ones that hearkened back to childhood memories in unexpected ways.

Some of the work on display here was, in fact, textile-based: large, symmetrical objects the size of small blankets. (At times, I was reminded of Franz Erhard Walther — though keep in mind that this observation comes from someone who was kicked out of the one art history class he attempted to take in college.) Others looked more frayed — a kind of island of misfit garments — a kind of collage in fabric, shapes that took the familiar and shifted it somehow, via a loss of symmetry or an unexpected addition.

Peter Nencini, “Plugged wall work #2”

Other works evoked the grids and boards of the games that a middle-school student might play with their family. Looking at some of the shapes that emerged from these collages, I kept thinking of the bracelets my classmates used to wear in late elementary and middle school. The chaos that underpinned a lot of the work on display in Secondment is disconcerting: does it represent some sort of violence beneath the surface? (“Plugged wall work #2,” which incorporates skull-like fragments, suggests an answer of “Maybe?”) The distortions of memory? Or simply the inability of certain occasions to be properly classified? The work of Nencini’s that appears here may be relatively minimalist in its composition, but it’s rich with memories and resonances.

Photos: Meredith Jenks

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebookGoogle + our Tumblr, and sign up for our mailing list.