Marianna Christofides Reluctantly Real

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April 8 –June 16, 2012

LAVERONICA – Via grimaldi 93, Modica

For her first solo show in Italy, the Cypriot artist Marianna Christofides (b. 1980) will inaugurate “Reluctantly Real” on Saturday, 7 April, at the Galleria La Veronica in the Sicilian town of Modica. The exhibition, curated by Marco Scotini, marks the development of several projects that Christofides presented at the most recent Venice Biennale, where the artist co-represented Cyprus.

You enter an exhibition by Marianna Christofides the way you would enter a cartographic archive of the past or a nineteenth-century Kaiserpanorama. You cross it as if it were a Cabinet Fantastique, something from the pages of Jules Verne, an ethnographic cabinet. Stereographs, frames and display cases, stereoscopes, lantern slides, episcopes, ancient maps and old tour guides, daguerreotypes: everything in her work alludes to the photographic archaeology of the modern age that, still saturated with optical illusions and the mystery of apparition, would irrevocably lead to the end of the concept of aura according to Benjamin, to the transformation of our spatiotemporal coordinates and how we perceive them.

This excursion through time is instead centred on movements through space, the identity of cultures, the authenticity of stories, the truthfulness of proof or documents. The core concept is that of the journey. Flows of mobile images encounter social groups and cultural visions in motion: tourism, colonialism, migrant labour, the narrations of e scapes and returns. Despite the fact that, by that date, all of the terrestrial space had already been united cartographically, the ethnographic vision is still that of one world examining another.

But Christofides’s work strives to rewrite and restage these relationships in ever-new possible critical combinations. Documents from various eras, collected from different settings, become the opportunity to activate a fictitious device of narrative allusions and visual concatenations that are only seemingly consistent and effective. And she does this using a medium like photography that, more than any other, should be the demonstration and certification of “what has been”. Without straining the implicit realism of photography, the doubt that this work continues to raise involves the unambiguousness of meaning, so that each image is assigned an identity rather than a story. Yet the image is always displaced, always a mobile section open to a plurality of interpretations and conditionings.

Stereoscapes #1 (2011), an installation on show here, is emblematic of this. A frame holds two reproductions of slides of the same image (taken in Gibraltar in the 1920s) with two captions that describe the two reproductions differently: one entitled Buying flowers (alluding to Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Sicily) and the other Flower seller (with a survey of Gibraltar). Then there is the installation entitled Reluctantly Real (2012), in which the object is a classic stereograph showing a sepia landscape of the Maghreb with a figure, dating back to the turn of the twentieth century. Here the two combined images of the original stereograph, which always presumes binocular vision, are projected separately with two episcopes and are treated as if they were not the same image. In this archaeological theatre staged by Christofides, repetition restores possibility to the past, creating an area of undecidability between true and false, between the image and its reception.

Image above: Marianna Christofides, Istallation view, 2012

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Marianna Christofides

Istallation view – 2012

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Marianna Christofides

Istallation view – 2012

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Marianna Christofides

Istallation view – 2012

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Marianna Christofides

Istallation view – 2012

stereoscapes-_1installation-view

Marianna Christofides

Istallation view – 2012