The New Gallery - Musrara (Jerusalem)
Opening: May 29th, 2018 in conjunction with Musrara Mix Festival
Exhibition dates: May 30th - July 4th, 2018
Our relationship to the landscape has undergone a drastic modification throughout the last century, prompted by flight and spaceflight technologies enabling aerial views and views from outer space, now among the most frequent perspectives of vision. The increasingly great distance between the observer and the observed and the subsequent decay of the horizon as a reference for visual and spatial orientation has introduced aerial forms of orientation and, as a consequence, new narrative possibilities. In 1968, the camera drifted away from the landscape to the point of fitting the entire planet into one image, known as the Earthrise. This event allowed for a radically different approach to the land and its visual representation, which became mostly airborne.
Spaceflight allowed for another radical experience to emerge - that of microgravity, implying the loss of weight, ground, direction and orientation and all the references with which the force of gravity has shaped our entire experience on the planet, our language, our metaphors. Microgravity also embodies the increasingly groundless human condition in an era that progressively abandoned the dogmatic references of ideology, belief and religion, together with their respective constraints. It becomes, hence, an inspiring starting point for speculative narratives as well as for the elaboration of new critical spatial practices. In microgravity there is no distinction between above and below, between east and west; there is no ground for territorial divisions.
But without a stable ground below us, how will we orientate? What will we see? And is our way of seeing already abandoning classic forms of spatial orientation? If so, will we still look for the horizon?
In Lior Gal’s analog, large-scale, photographic collages the invented horizon is the line of contact between two images and becomes a reference that simultaneously subverts the orientation of an earthlike force of gravity, suggesting a vision governed by multiple perspectives which can coexist from the same viewpoint. In the illusory archaeology of yet unexplored spacetimes, earthly natural objects (a dried peach, an Icelandic block of ice, the soil of the desert) are displaced and reassembled in maps of uncharted lands. They drag us beyond their surface demanding our gaze to let go of the rules imposed by the force of gravity, and to embrace an image in which multiple space and times coexist. The ability of these photographs to evoke the future and their analogies with landscapes of sci-fi culture creates a thrilling contrast with their actual process - developed in a darkroom, using devices fallen into disuse, avoiding any form of digital production and post-production. In Gal’s work, the construction of possible yet puzzling perspectives reveals the mutating aspect of our perception, the dynamism and intensity of the world-making process, but also the breathtaking possibilities of a vision unruled by the force of gravity.
Sara Tirelli and Elena Mazzi’s 3-channel video work ‘A Fragmented World’ explores the cycle of geological destruction and reconstruction of a landscape by observing the most active volcano in Europe, the Etna. The work is inspired by Italian physicist Bruno Giorgini’s “fracture theory” and considers the fracture as a chaotic, unpredictable rupture, that can not be described by classic mathematical models. For its elusive nature, the geophysical fracture mirrors the course of sociopolitical changes and determines the rhythm of a perpetual transformation and adaptation of the environment and its inhabitants. In the installation, 3D reconstructions and filmed images intertwine in the narration and approach the complexity of this mutation as two complementary languages.
The possibility of looking at the volcano from an inaccessible perspective, made possible by a camera drone, brings us to reflect on how the development of cameras and aviation (born in the same year) produced a drastic modification in the viewpoint from which we look at the landscape. The parallel advance in the technology of filming and flying has radically transformed the way we record and represent the landscape, as well as the narrative possibilities of moving image.
Saverio Cantoni’s new body of work ‘Looking into the Sun’ is a visual research into our expanding future both as individuals whose perception is increasingly mediated by technology and as species that is preparing to settle on another planet. The photographs of extraterrestrial territorial mapping and robots engineering were realized during the artist’s visit to Thales Alenia and Altec headquarters in Turin, where the European Space Agency is developing a rover that will land on Mars in 2020, and that will search for evidence of life on the red planet. Our science-fiction culture is continuously merging with our everyday life, and it speaks to us of a dystopian future in which overpopulation, consumption and pollution have brought us to recreate our societies elsewhere, where we will start by shaping another planet into an earthlike environment.
A constellation of images will be activated during the three days of Musrara Mix Festival together with the visitors, with the aim to generate a catalog that will later remain in the exhibition space as a tool for further research and speculation around one central question: how fast can we adapt to microgravity?