How to fly with fins

April 20th, 1977, Vermezzo (MI)

For some time now Alzek Misheff has been inventing stories for adults without worrying about the consequences they might have on the spectators. Nothing exceptional so far. The thing becomes interesting when, instead of the normal means of expression used by the inventors of stories, such as the fairy tale or drawing, Alzek presents them to us with spectacular actions which he himself performs.

His last performance, for example, was none other than the author’s attempt to fly. Now, stories sometimes enchant but they almost never persuade, precisely because they lack a link with reality. Misheff’s actions on the contrary, try to encompass a possible concrete realization, at least partially. This persists despite the disbelief or amused attitude of the audience: it’s hard for people who usually walk or at best run, to imagine themselves flying even with the help of enormous fins. You need at least a good dose of imagination equal to Alzek’s.

His actions, however, are attempts to ‘fly’ literally outside of theatrical metaphors and symbolism and outside of the competition of sports events even though they keep both the former and the latter’s spectacular side.

So, in order to fly, Alzek built himself a pair of wings – two layers of white plastic stuffed with cotton and a pair of enormous fins – a piece of styrofoam.

Then, one April night, at 7 pm, he ‘wore’ them and ‘flew’ over a field in Vermezzo, near Milan. A 5 meters cable joined 2 steel poles 8 meters high. A double pulley held up the wires to which the artist hooked himself. While Alzek was making four or five attempts to fly, the people who had gathered below, attracted by this unusual sight, urged him to ‘fly seriously’. (The documentation was shown at ‘Marconi Gallery’, Milan, for the exhibition ‘Imagination recorded as process’, June 8th-21st[1]).

Hanging on a rope at a height of seven-eight meters, with two rolls so that they do not lose direction, a pair of small wings, to make a good impression, old sandals stuck with duct tape on polystyrene surface, the ‘engine.’ I was ‘swimming’ as a dolphin, from one pair of wings to the other, practicing.

Inexperienced in this new discipline, the climbing harness I used injured me.

Later some very well-prepared critics asked me whether the dialogue with the assistants had had any relation to the action itself. I told them ‘no.’ Despite that, in several articles months later it was written that my attempt to fly was related to my childhood[2]…?!

[1] Rinaldi, R., Data, no. 27, 1977.

[2] Pozzobonelli farmhouse -Vermezzo, April 1977.