Robert Pettena was born in Pembury (UK) in 1970. His youth was divided between the UK and Tuscany and he has been living and working in Florence since 1990.
His style is difficult to pin down within the confines of any specific artistic vocabulary and his output ranges from photography to performance art and site-specific projects. An artist-cum-traveller, the way in which he juxtaposes conflicting aspects of reality is poetic and provocative. His art can be both massive and “destructive,” like his excavation inside the Gum studio in Carrara, or minimal, like his insertion of a record player into the desolate panorama of the artificial lake of Santa Barbara, drained for maintenance, in his series of photographs entitled Alla conquista dell’inutile [Conquering the Pointless]
Pettena sometimes subverts the function of a specific object, such as a scooter transformed into a military vehicle, or codes of social conduct that he questions. This art is sparked by the observation of daily life in which he identifies “exceptional” moments and places that allow us to glimpse reality, revealing its incongruous and alienating side. His work includes site-specific projects involving a variety of people from all walks of life, including some from the artistic underground.
The Jungle Junction installation contributes an ecological element of any environment. This is a very elastic project which can expand or contract to fill the space available. People sometimes need green plants around them: young bendy branches of trees provide a good, versatile, elastic material for the construction of a public drinking place. The two different kinds of drinks, either made from organic fruits and vegetables or alcoholic cocktails, highlight the contradictions between healthy living and having fun.