The coexistence between the human and natural aspects – necessary parts of an efficient whole – their understanding, appreciation, and the reflection on the possible issues that can arise from the lack of cooperation between them are the key concepts that have inspired this selection. It includes three sculptural works by the French artist Léa Dumayet (1990, Paris), three video installations by the English artist Yolande Harris (1975, Devon), and five photographs by the Italian artist Patrizia Posillipo (1975, Caserta). Dumayet’s works offer refined shapes, which express the beauty that springs from the harmonious intertwinement of these aspects, frozen in perfect balance. Harris’ videos carry us in places that are unfit for human life, but appropriate for a plethora of other species: accompanied by soft sounds and clicks, we follow the movements of marine creatures caught in their constant underwater motion. Lastly, the images of Icelandic landscapes taken by Posillipo seem suspended and inscrutable: the ostensible peace hides many more problems than what it seems at first glance.

L’Os

L’Os

Léa Dumayet Aluminium, elastic tensioner 86 x 100 x 50 cm

The dichotomies between natural and artificial, manageable and savage, stability and instability – opposite aspects that are usually at odds and very rarely in harmony – reach an admirable balance in Dumayet’s sculptures. The elegance of the artist’s pieces exquisitely matches with her theoretical research, led by the reflection on the contrasts between the lack and presence of balance. This analysis is also developed through the approach of materials with opposite textures: on the one hand, the industrial feel of metal, which are perfect and polished; on the other hand, the natural touch of shells, fossils, and bones, which are rougher and more primitive.

Keeping in mind the theme of balance, these aspects seal a renovated alliance between the two charactertistics: both in Vielle Nouvelle (2022) and in L’os (2020), the aluminium and steel’s shiny and curved shapes perfectly mix with the wild ones of the marine remains collected by the artist. Ritratto (2022) fully emanates the poetry of Dumayet’s art: the shell doesn’t only elegantly coexist with the metal wire, but, the fact that it is a fossil adds the dimension of time to the artist’s research. The harmony that she pursues embraces matter, its history, and its becoming.

Sound awareness and the importance that it has in the relationships between humans and non-humans beings are the key features of Harris’ research: the artist’s goal is to reduce the gap that the human-listener feels toward the heard-animal subject deconstructing our collective imagination based on distance, and offering moments of closeness through her videos, which give space to an improved care and fondness toward creatures that exist far from us. The project From a Whale’s Back (2020), in which the artist explores the visual and sonic aspects of the underwater world, is remarkable. In particular, whales are the beings that bring the artist in this mysterious space, which gradually becomes accessible. The three videos Minke Whales Surface Through Ice, Humpbacks Bubble net Feeding, A Pod of Orcas Swims Together in Antarctica show different species of cetaceans swimming and eating, making us unexpected spectators of simple and daily events. Even though these videos were taken for scientific purposes, they were later used by Harris to allow the spectator to merge in these brief moments of underwater life, making whales’ existence tangible.

Beaches skimmed by waves, the slow and pensive steps of animals, glaciers that look like gems, tiny houses in the distance: it is tranquillity that welcomes us in Posillipo’s photographs. Yet, the absent owners of those small and peaceful buildings are precisely the ones that have given a shape to everything we are looking at: no matter how lonely or forgotten these landscapes may seem, nothing was left to chance. These photographs are part of the wider reflection on the Anthropocene – the current geological age, where the human represents the most consistent destructive force on the Planet. The artist acutely understands the problematic and shaky balance that exists between humans and environment, where every attempt to improve the current situation seems to be opposed by the ecological short-sightedness of the former. The human catastrophe that silently, but steadily, unfolds is well represented by the Icelandic environment: if, on the one hand, the anthropogenic changes are always present but are difficult to identify and perceive; on the other hand, the landscape, which seems so imperturbable – a feeling provided by the deep silence that the artist’s images inspire – is indeed uncanny. Hidden, the continuous activity of the magma threatens the life above.

[1] Emanuele Coccia, La vita delle piante (il Mulino, 2018) 48, Eng. tr. The Life of Plants.


Curated by Eleonora Savorelli

Eleonora Savorelli (Jesi, 1996) is an independent curator based in Milan. After graduating from John Cabot University (RM) in art history with a minor in entrepreneurship and classical studies, she attended the two-year MA of visual arts and curatorial studies in English at NABA (MI). She currently works at Reading Room, a space in Milan dedicated to the dissemination and understanding of contemporary magazines. She mainly writes for the online magazines Forme Uniche and ArtsLife.

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