by aurora paolillo
In the theater of the past that is constituted by memory, the stage setting maintains the characters in their dominant rôles. At times we think we know ourselves in time, when all we know is a sequence of fixations in the spaces of the being’s stability – a being who does not want to melt away, and who, even in the past, when he sets out in search of things past, wants time to “suspend” its flight. In its countless alveoli space contains compressed time. That is what space is for.
from The Poetics of Space
Farshid Azarang, Tehran, photo art
In his famous essay An archival impulse, Hal Foster describes an aesthetic field in which the “archival artists” seek to make historical information,often lost or displaced, physically present. The relationship between archive and photographic, filmic and textual representation demands a totally new conceptualization in terms of interpretation of the current archival logic, for which the archive is no longer something that challenges us from the depths of time and of the past. My research is focused on giving a form to those ties that we don’t see, but exist. For example, those emphatic bonds with people, places and objects. These links – maybe – give a sense to our existence. Durable or temporary, these ties compose our life. My work seeks the sense of the connection between our being and the different dimensions of lived. With an accurate observation of reality and daily life places, I am interested in details, in particular those difficult to catch, which leave a sign into the memory and are worthy to be remembered. I am aware of the changeable aspect of the matter and then I record all the fragmentary realities or those that are growing or changing, and are not yet finished. With actions of (re)construction and de-costruction of reality, I create new inserts that give a substance to my narrative.
Aurora Paolillo, Collection of strange words of my childhood (written by my parents)
Places and objects photographed are nothing but evidence of human existence despite the fact that no one will be portrayed in the images. My works illustrate the domestic structure of space through repetition of form and nuanced irregularities. The seemingly stark photographs are studies of private spaces and, at the same time, societal collective experiences relative to memory. Small-format photographs of empty interiors, actionless room, uninhabited landscape capture the precariousness of relationship. My interest in objects comes from the obsession of treasuring things that have a sentimental relevance for me and the story of my family, they represent a sort of collection steered by entropic forces. Often, this my inclination evolves into the uncontrolled accumulation of any item and material. This recurring behaviour in the story of my family has deeply influenced the concept of my research.
My work is made up of different levels connected to each other. It arises as simple photographic documentation of objects and places among which collections and archives. All of them are related to a specific moment of my past. Some sort of catalog in the catalog characterized by the intimacy of the subject, but at the same time, the photographic “objectivity” goes beyond the “subjective” point of view and provides a sort of detachment for the viewer. An inventory of object images, and place which seem to become invisible when they stabilize in our habits, images of architectural interiors which address the psychological environment of familiar, social and cultural institutions.
Every day we unconsciously use objects with automatism, pay no attention to them, their function, their usefulness. The same is true for some details of a specific place daily lived. The visual habit leads to a complete sensory anesthesia therefore I try to refocus attention on what we no longer see. It may be called “ontological vision of reality”: I try to study and represent our being in this world and especially I try to find and understand the ties between us, objects and places. My work is a praise to the invisible, that exists and has its own physicality.
My photographs investigate the forms and structures of spaces, as well as their details. I examine the contradictions between intention and actual use, as well as the layers of time change. This approach leads me to very personal portraits of spaces. The images invite us to take time to discover and reflect upon what spaces and objects do to us and what we do to spaces. Despite the absence of people in the images, it is about the ways in which people are directed and contained by architectural interiors.
I tend to shoot each actionless room or inanimate object from a close vantage point so that the far wall is centered within the resulting image. There is no space for a subjective vision. With this photographic serie I create a home map and a family portrait, it evinces the act of viewing that is foundation of the archive experience, yet it also suggests the way in which institutional architecture contains its human guests, directing them through certain spaces and not others. Instead of receding into space, the far objects, with such a framing device, seem to project forward toward the viewer. Background spaces become primary subjects. I put over the photographies a tracing paper that I have earlier pierced. As a painstaking invisible embroidery, from one hand the pin holes underline a detail of the image below, but on the other they obfuscate the view. I erase part of the image rendering tangible the passing time effects over objects, places and memories.
As suggested by Enwesor, the mechanical transcription and the direct reference between the photograph and the existence of its subject are the foundation of photography as act of recording, an act that transforms an event in trace of time, shelved in the archive object. The descriptiveness of photography, its being able to establish specific relations between time and event, image and message, have led to redefine the terms of the archival production, adapting them to the photographic language which offers new phenomenological reports of the world as image. Photography is both documentary evidence and archial document of such operations.
On the left: Aurora Paolillo, Maui, Hawaii, 2012; on the right: Funnel, Academy of Fine Arts, Turin
The images of empty spatial constructions comment not on cultural differences but explore the universality of the human experience. Space and objects are observed from a physical and temporal distance. According to Michel Foucault’s definition, the archive is the general system of formation and transformation of statements, so which coordinates every relationship between the past and the present, the system that governs the appearance of statements as single events, as well as every photographic image, equipped with this principle of uniqueness.
This is a work between personal and collective memories where objects become the pretext to talk about a reality saturated by objects charged of significance a research process to understand the bond between man and object of his desire, his possession, starting to analyze the family background and then enlarging the gaze outside. I’m interested in bringing to light the generative and creative side of the archive, what Derrida has defined as its “institutive” power. In my recent more abstract work Serial Objects – Accumulations I’m focusing on the importance of detail and its role in the aesthetic construction and perception of space. It is an installation composed of several small generic sculptures made in series, geometric shapes, which describe three-dimensionally in space the accumulation process of objects; items that are far from the initial idea of intimacy, but related to the collection and the archive. At first glance the installation seems unexceptional. The scultures are all the same monotonous shape, seemingly in endless supply, and cleansed of all reference to individual identity; they highligh the serial aspect of the excessive production of objects and the risk of depersonalization due to the mechanical reproduction of stuff, places and information. This monotony evokes erased memories and misplaced evidence. It is a kind of allegory of the dematerialized form of traces in the computer archive and also an allegory of archival work as sometimes melancholic, often vertiginous, always incomplete. Beforehand the archive objects retained a certain idea of uniqueness, which resided in the historical, cultural or epistemological value of the document.
Aurora Paolillo, Serial Objects – Accumulations
Aurora Paolillo is a visual artist, she was born in 1990 in Torino (Italy) where she actually lives and works. In 2013 she attained a BA degree at the Albertina Academy of Torino. Actually she is preparing a postgraduate thesis in Graphics Art with Professor Franco Fanelli. She mainly works with photography, sculpture and installation. Selected Exhibitions: 2015, Young Artists Biennale, Monza (Italy); 2015, (upcoming) Finalist at the contemporary art contest Artefatto Reset, Gopcevich Palace, Trieste (Italy); (upcoming) Incorporeo, curated by Franco Fanelli, Maria Teresa Roberto, Stefano W. Pasquini, Torino (Italy); 2013, Finalist at contemporary art contest Novecento in Arte in collaboration with Accademia Albertina of Fine Arts and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino (Italy).