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past/present-the-new-exhibition-at-galleria-michela-negrini,-lugano

Past/Present the new exhibition at Galleria Michela Negrini, Lugano

For these compositions, the artist’s choice of ceramics, originates from the material itself, and its essence: that is the earth, the mud and minerals. Focusing on the importance of the material as a crucial aspect within the creative process, Liliana Moro leads us to rethink the time of the material as the primary element in giving earth a new shape, as well as what marks its own time into the making, and brings new light on the cycle of drying and cooking, with the beauty of the necessary waiting.

Emphasizing the role of time’s transforming effect, or – as Marguerite Yourcenar defines it “Mighty Sculptor” – capable of modeling everything, even when the material is us, these round sculptures, crowned with leaves, with a circular opening allow us to perceive their cavity, the emptiness inside of them. And just like Italo Calvino in his American Lessons proceeds by weight subtraction, Liliana Moro as well operates by lightening the fruit, digging into its past and freezing it in a present, powerless time, in which only the relationship with our gaze can project it into the future.

Melik Ohanian work explores the mean, supports and allegorical power of the images, reverting constantly to several social, historical, and scientific facts. On view, new works from the series “Tomorrow Was”.

Melik Ohanian Portrait of Duration Cesium
Melik Ohanian Portrait of Duration Cesium

Without any time nor specific indication, this series meditates on the world’s to be aftermath. These photographs do not seek to capture a moment, but to speculate in a reflexive manner with the personal narrative of the viewer. Facing these fragments of life, he/she will have to anticipate his/her relationship with the world. The exhibition features also works from the series “Portrait of Duration – Cesium Series”. This work reveals state changes of Caesium 133 (the element whose radioactive decay has been used to tick off the universal second in atomic clocks since 1967) during its process of transformation from solid to liquid state. In this representation of time by matter, each photograph records the appearance of the latter at a time T.

Melik Ohanian ponders over the observation and representation of the measurement of time and, more particularly, over his benchmark: the second. Although time, obviously, remains a relative and abstract concept, these images produce “a portrait of time through the representation of the matter that defines it” and the result, he says is a kind of “photographic tautology”. Indeed, instead of just telling time, it shows it. It is “a quest for a state of consciousness,” he explains; an oscillation between cosmic and mental landscapes. Unexpectedly, they recall the Surrealist landscapes of Max Ernst.

Throughout time, the practice of ex-voto has developed across cultures, representing a bonding element with the divine, a way to seek for strength and benevolence of divinities. Appearing in a variety of forms, these ancient forms of prayer are predominantly in the shape of human figures.

The exhibition features Trevis Maponos, silver sculptures by Namsal Siedlecki, originated by 3D scans that the artist took in France in 2019, in Clermont Ferrand, where between 1968 and 1971 more than 3,500 Gallic ex-votos carved in beech were found. The ex-votos were thrown into the spring, a sanctuary in nature where believers could go to be in direct interaction with the divinity of the place, Maponos.

Namsal Siedlecki Trevis Maponos 2020
Namsal Siedlecki Trevis Maponos 2020

With this work the artist brings together the Gallo-Roman rituals of ex-votos and the contemporary tradition of throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain in Rome in order to accomplish our dreams and wishes. Indeed, Siedleki has gathered approximately 500 kg silver coins from the Trevi Fountain, which represent a portion of the 8% of the fountain’s annual profit that cannot be exchanged by the Vatican City.

After selecting and melting down the silver coins, Siedlecki uses the technique of electroplating. These composite desires show Siedlecki’s interest in the symbolic search for divinity that for over 2000 years is crystallized in the gesture of throwing an offering, the result of a promise and a palpable exchange between the human and the supernatural. Two expectations and dreams from different eras blend into a unique and collective artifact, thus becoming a tangible material.

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