Ivana Adaime Makac’s Zombie series stems from her interest in the different states of the living. In her oeuvre, which started exploring the paradoxical relationships of humans with non human beings around 20 years ago, Adaime Makac has investigated the state of death, of aliveness, and in this series she explores a state of in-betweenness, precisely, that of the zombie, which is nor dead nor alive, or, in other words, is a living dead. Adaime Makac started researching on techniques to preserve vegetables around 2015 for her work Senza titolo (Struttura che fa la siesta), a reinterpretation of Giovanni Anselmo’s piece from 1968 Senza titolo (Struttura che mangia), seeking to “suspend” the freshness of the lettuce and at the same time to remove the evolving aspect and the need of maintenance of the original sculpture. This feeling of suspension is further explored in the Zombie series, in which she treated the different vegetables (several cabbage varieties, lettuce, celery, asparagus, endive, and seaweeds), which the artist harvests herself, with a procedure that comes from floral decoration techniques. The glycerin treatment prevents the vegetables from going rotten, preserving certain characteristics of the living, or at least fresh vegetables, like its flexibility, but lose others, like the green colour or the crispiness, creating the ambiguous and a bit uncanny impression of something that isn’t alive, nor dead. There is an interest in this series of somehow fixing life, of running the always-already-lost race against death, and a bit like the effect of botox in humans, even if certain characteristics of aliveness are presevered, the overall all appearance is of decadence and decrepitude. Adaime Makac arranges the living-dead vegetables in a way that alludes to funeral crowns, but that can also recall the floral crowns worn in certain pagan spring rituals. So, these works are, as in most of her works, in dialogue with the artistic genre of the still-life, the very name of which resonates in a interesting way: whereas in most latin languages the expression means literally translated “dead nature” (“nature mort“, “natura morta“, “naturaleza muerta“), the English “still-life” seems more closely linked with the idea of the zombie. In this sense, as with the rest of Adaime Makac’s oeuvre, ambiguity and a loose adherence to meanings are the ground for triggering a myriad of associations and interpretations, which are suggested but never controlled.
Text by Gabriela Galati