by maria teresa roberto
All I Remember is the title of Elisabetta Benassi’s project developed through subsequent steps: a research in the major international newspapers photographic archives, an exhibition at Magazzino, Rome, in 2010, a book, published by NERO in collaboration with Castello di Rivoli and Magazzino in 2011.
Leafing through it, on each page, you will find the photographic reproduction of the verso of one of the 477 photographs chosen by Benassi in the archives she explored. At Magazzino those same images flowed on the low definition screen of a microfilm reader, and they were duplicated on the walls in a series of watercolours, in the faithful translation of all traces sedimented on each of those rears – captions, notes, abbreviations, stamps, bands, inscriptions, printed clipping.
The book emphasizes and multiplies the effect of the image subtaction that is the core of the project: if each sheet – as well as every material surface – is inextricably composed by a recto and a verso, complementary in their possible difference, leafing through a volume means go through and activate for every page this relation, triggering a continuous reversal of roles, disclosing for each recto its verso. Browsing All I Remember the gaze instead confronts constant removal experience, not only of images but first of the front side, without which the reverse assumes a new, paradoxical, estranged identity. To propose again the distinction made by Barthes in Camera Lucida, it is as if Benassi wanted to silence the punctum Benassi, making inaccessible to our eyes the image produced by the snapshot, with its details bearer of emotional and evocative potential, to give instead voice only to the feature of the studium, to the stratified traces which define and summarize the information that each picture can show.
But in this operation of reverential iconoclasty, the potential of photography is even strengthened: the hypothetical reconstruction of each image is entrusted to our memory and our ability to build a mental scenario where places, characters, situations appear as shadows or simulacra permanently separated from any correspondence with historical reality, and it is the very process of archiving, indexed by abbreviations, captions, inscriptions, to focus our attention on itself, to suggest connections, to trigger memory, to evoke emotions.
Maria Teresa Roberto is an italian curator and Professor. She graduated in Literature at the University of Turin, with a thesis by History of Art Criticism. Actually she teaches Contemporary Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin. She taught Contemporary Art History at the University of Turin and at the University Unicamp-Ifisc, Sao Paulo, Brazil. She also collaborates with GAM – Modern Art Gallery and Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin.