5 Questions to Vittoria Gerardi
She constructs her pictures in the darkroom based on her visual experiences and impressions: Vittoria Gerardi, artist of the Marta exhibition “Deceptive Images”.
You prefer analogue photography and work in the darkroom to digital photography. What is it that appeals to you about this?
A phenomenon that is impalpable in digital photography and that in analog photography becomes tangible: latency. I perceive the latent image as an epiphanic event where the visible emerges directly from the invisible. My intention is to play and to give shape to that apparition.
Tell us about your work in the dark room – can you give us an insight into your mode of operation?
I don’t approach photography with a single printing technique, rather I tend to develop different techniques in relation to the subject of representation. However, there is a leitmotif in my work that most often takes the shape of a line. This is because every subject that I choose represents a relation with time and our ontological perception of it and the line comes as a symbol of this relation.
This is how I thought about the desert in the project “Confine”, where the landscape becomes the temporal perception of ‘visible horizon’: the illusory division between earth and ether, life and death, body and mind. The prints are constructed in the darkroom by masking the photographic paper, confining the light exposure of the negative to lines or similar semantic shapes. Together with this operation, I have decided to interact with the time of chemical development, to alter the pure black and white prints into nuances of colours: colours of the desert or of the mind that are ultimately colours of time.
This is also how I thought about the Pompeii ruins in the project “Pompeii”: the simultaneous perception of visible and invisible, past and present, hidden and discovered. In terms of technique, this was pursued differently and not entirely in the darkroom. I have decided to introduce plaster – a material deeply connected to the history of the place – and to model with it the prints of the negatives I have captured in Pompeii. Some silver gelatin prints are veiled with stratifications of plaster; others are buried into moulds of plaster leaving visible only the upper edge of the print, shaping a line in between emergent form and programmed disappearance of everything.
Your works oscillate between document and artefact. In your “Pompeii” series you change the photography sculpturally with plaster. What appeals to you about this interplay between fact and fiction?
Photography is to me, by its very nature, fact and fiction. It is the possibility to capture reality and at the same time to elude any representation of it. In the „Pompeii“ series this is pursued by adding plaster, which is related to the ruin on a temporal level. The plaster casts of the victims of Pompeii inspired me to use this material in relation to photography to evoke a memory, which is veiled. A memory where the visible is interlaced with the invisible.
The exhibition reflects the interrelationship between photography and painting. Where would you place your work here?
I think that behind every artwork there is a concept that one is inclined to pursue and to shape through tangible or intangible materials. This is the reason why different techniques exist. If someone privileges one technique over the other, it is because his/her sensibility is more inclined towards a certain process. At the same time, there is no dogma saying that these techniques have to remain separated. Regarding my work, I wouldn’t place it within or in between specific techniques, but I would say at least that, so far, photography is the one that allowed me to deeply express certain concepts, with or without including other materials.
Which artists have had the biggest influence on your practice up to now?
I engage with my practice as a “Journey to the East”, in the sense that every name in history can appear as a momentary sympathy. Therefore there is nor big nor small influence, yet everything it’s an influence that deeply marks the journey.