by silvia margaria
I grew up in a small provincial town, in a house with a courtyard where of a large part of my family lives. The women of the family have always had the habit of meeting several times a day, their appointments had something of ritual; in these feminine meetings, always the same objects were the protagonists: the cups, the good china, the chairs made by the grandfather, the marble coffee table, the watering can, photo albums, old and used wrapping, tea clothes, …
In my family we are used to don’t throw anything away, is a way of life handed down by my grandfather: he was a carpenter and all processing wood waste were kept with the same importance as new pieces, the same was for used nails and screws, or whatever it was still usable. He has made over the years a storage for future use.
My early works are installations with furniture. Undoubtedly the influence of the family environment was decisive: when I was a child I was allowed to stay in the my grandfather’s laboratory, while he built furniture, cases, doors…
These first installations are as invisible rooms, in which the furniture had to be opened and closed from the active viewer: they are deposits of waste objects, assembled to create scenes of a narrative, as if they were small stages with characters and the plot of a story.
Then the work space changed: from a large country house I moved to an apartment in the city continuing to work in a small room. It was no longer possible to collect large objects, so I mainly started to search for papers and pictures, necessarily changing supports and subjects: I preferred the collage – which by its nature lives of scraps – to furniture with assembled objects.
My archive is expanded with “two-dimensional” objects, as papers, magazines, books, photographs; and is right on the photograph, in all its forms (prints, negatives, slides, polaroid, rollers) that my current research focuses on.
Each photograph contains the idea of the document, because it is the evidence of a real fact; each photograph is undeniably related to the existence of its subject; every photograph is therefore a recording, an imprint of the time, an archival object, the object of the archive par excellence.
Since a couple of years I collect slides, pictures depicting scenes of everyday life or testifying extraordinary events of anonymous families.
I have always been fascinated by the slide show. I think this attraction derives, once again, from my experience, from my childhood when the whole family gathered for the projection rite: the darkness, the rhythm, the sound of the projector and its warmth that filled the room, led me literally inside the bright picture. Usually for each slide projected a long didactic story was told, so boredom inspired me to invent a solitaire game that consisted in spying on those big bright pictures looking for an intrusive detail or a hidden error, hard to find.
Nidificare, 2014, serie of 100 overlying in pairs 35mm slides – slide show
Courtesy Galleria Opere Scelte, Torino
Like in a game, just like when I was a child, I started to overlap the slides found two by two, discovering new scenarios, new stories. I simply added them together in another reality, quite different from that which each slide shows.
This is the series Nidificare.
The image formed by this overlap is a new scenario that doesn’t exist. Sometimes it is not immediately possible to recognize the presence of two different pictures overlapping; the projection and the enlargement of the image, allow you to better focus what we are looking at. This creates, by projecting real images, a window of escape on a world that doesn’t exist, a utopia.
I share with the collector the practice of research, the restlessness of the gaze – that tries to focus, with a quick pan, a large number of things – the investigation of the past and the symbiosis established with the objects. I quest of some particular objects with the spirit of the collector, with the precise awareness of what to look for. The search for these objects is a part of my work, and the time of the research is a relevant factor, determines the duration of the project. I entrust myself without resisting. The almost documentary approach of this practice is so characterized by a special relationship with the unexpected, the unpredictable and incalculable.
This way to start creating, inevitably generates a considerable accumulation of material; a large part of the project consists, in fact, of thorough archiving of all images and objects recovered. The transition from the collecting practice to the creation of an archive is direct: images and objects conserve a some ideas of uniqueness and authenticity, which lies in the historical, cultural and personal value which coordinates the relationship between the past and the present. This means that they hand down not only a story, but also some degree of moral importance when they are recovered and reinvested in value.
“(…) What’s in those files is not a mystery (…) now what we are interested in is this stretch of closed and labeled covers, and the mental process they involve. The author herself clearly defined it: “I try to own and take possession of the life and events of which I gain knowledge. Throughout the day I leaf through, collect, put in order, classify, sift, and reduce the entire album in many other collection albums. Then these collections become my own life (…)”.
Italo Calvino, Collezione di sabbia
Objects and images I find in flea markets or on the street are witnesses of what has momentarily satisfied the needs or happiness in the lives of their owners before me and that, for some reason, have become a sort of memory waste, a debris of the proof. Rauschenberg said that the world is nothing but a huge painting and he felt very rich because he could collect the street waste taking advantage of what the day was offering him as a material to work with.
the reason why I want these objects is the importance they have had in the past, a personal and symbolic weight, of traditions, memories, nostalgia and private life, because
“(…) Every man is man-plus-things, is a man because he recognized himself in a number of things, recognizes the human being invested in things, the himself who took the form of things(…).”
Italo Calvino, Collezione di sabbia
Alberto Eiguer in his book “L’inconscio della casa” questions about objects and furniture, about their function, the manner in which they are arranged inside the house and their repositioning. The domestic space is built through movement we impose to objects, and when we find it comfortable and enjoyable, it is because we have fun as the children. This study of ‘”intimacy” leads me to reflect on the intrinsic memory of the past life conteneined in objects or photographs not belong to me.
Through the collection of objects and material evidence each of us carry out a task of construction oriented to retain fragments of life, personal testimonies locked in time, materialized memories which is apponited a symbolic value. For this purpose everyone retains small or large keepsakes that have a personal narrative ability and which in the future will tell what once happened. Home becomes a place of historical memory of its inhabitants, it is the archive of all that is brought from the outside and wants to be kept. Everyday objects play a significant role, because there is an immediate correspondence between objects and life. Objects found in flea markets (or abandoned beside the bins) lost, for various reasons, this value: they became inconvenient, cumbersome, useless for those who wanted to throw them.
Through a sort of narrative game I try to imagine the memories, the events, the people related to these objects: an invented biography of the subject is a map by which we can differently navigate the present. Despite the obsolescence of the materials used for this work, and I want the present dialogue with the past; I use the past to talk of today. According to Michel Foucault, the archive “is the general system of the formation and transformation of statements” (M. Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Rizzoli, Milan, 1994). That is to say that the archive coordinates every relationship among past and present. Collect, store, consecrate, interpret, categorize are actions that characterize my work, that make the object of my archive can communicate and create.
I worked for three years to the film archive of Cineteca del Museo Nazionale del Cinema: my job consisted in examining and cataloging the materials in the collection. I opened metal box containing films as if they were small chests of precious treasure. The part of the job I enjoy most was to catalog the material related to movie (written notes by a projectionist on used sheets, editing notes, cuts out of magazines or newspapers used to reparate the reels …) found inside the box: small clues if you have no other data to identify the movie. Like a detective I asked those scraps of the past, closely related to that particular copy of the movie: the apparent lack of significance of a private small object, the banality of a piece of paper, the margins of a handwritten note, are the protagonists of a story, the story of every day.
I want to focus on the little things, seemingly insignificant, witnesses of a particular lived moment, which only an archive can consider. they are orphaned objects that become, through their redemption, part of a plural experience.
Today the classic archive lives a crisis caused by a multitude of dematerialized data which leads to reduce the archival object in a computer code. The information is still collected, preserved, interpreted, but the traditional form of storage such as tactile medium are becoming obsolete. My research focuses on the materiality of the archive and the nostalgia originated, on the collective memory enclosed in in everyday objects and their continuous change, the research, investigation, sound out, discard, check, store to be able to have a relationship with the world, with things.
Silvia Margaria is a visual artist, she was born in Savigliano (Italy) in 1985. In 2010 she got a Master Degree at the Accademia Albertina of Fine Arts in Turin, Italy. Her artistic research started at the film archive of the National Museum of Cinema Film Library in Turin spending three year in the inspection and cataloging films area. His work is based on photographs and left objects collection, assembling and overlapping images and materials.
Exhibition: 2014, The Others Fair, Turin – spazio Autofocus 6 (special mention to the prize); Galleria Opere Scelte, Turin – group exhibition PRINTING NEW WORLDS; 2009, Ex Carceri Le Nuove, Turin – group exhibition ARS CAPTIVA – HORROR VACUI HORROR PLENI; 2008 Accademia Albertina of Fine Arts, Turin / ex Churcha of San Carlo dei Barnabiti, Florence – group exhibition SCOGLIERE curated by Radu Dragomirescu and Giuseppe Andreani; 2007 Ex Carceri Le Nuove, Turin – group exhibition ARS CAPTIVA – PERCORSI DI LIBERAZIONE CREATIVA; Castle of Racconigi – workshop e group exhibition GENIUS LOCI – I GIOCHI D’ACQUA. RISCOPERTA DI UN LUOGO E DEL SUO GENIO curated by Serena Fumero, Marco Ferrari, Monica Saccomandi.