Friday, 14 December 2012


Elena Damiani, 'History Decomposes into Images, not into Stories' at Revolver Gallery in Lima

Fragmented images are timeless ruins (histories) intervened by transient artefacts.
Notes on La Historia Se Descompone En Imágenes, No En Historias, Elena Damiani’s Exhibition
By José-Carlos Mariátegui

The visual realm has seized new contexts, new materials, new techniques, has taken as its own the flexibility of time and the uncertainty of cognitive contexts. In this way, the conceptualization about the image is being drastically transformed. La Historia Se Descompone En Imágenes, No En Historias (History Decomposes Into Images, Not Into Narratives) by Elena Damiani is comprised of four basic elements that invite us on a journey to decipher the return to the universe of images which are made from documents and archives. Critical research regarding the conceptual significance of archives and the persistency with memory in a society fearful of forgetting, has funnelled Damiani’s work and research by transforming “found material” into collages and manipulated images. However, as opposed to historical (linear) memories (a key characteristic of most archives), the images in Damiani’s show disregard an order by insinuating possible mental relations.

Photographs re-assembled as collages are organized as loose annotations and documents throughout the space, which subtly suggest that history is not an ordered sequence of events but a discontinuous and interrupted set of cognitive spaces. The break with historical narrative gets translated in the fissure of a rock, in the irruption of an artefact into the landscape, or as stated by Damiani, in the interstice that tears the persistence and the continuum of history. The fracture of linearity becomes evident in re-assembled images that capture a desolate and changing mental territory.

The marbles, which are arranged in a discontinuous way around one of the gallery rooms, are solitary signs of the passage of time. They place us in front of a history that seems sluggishly inert and stable as the rock itself. Stratifications compose the rock’s geological formation period. These gradual geological formations give the rock its colouring properties. Thus the marble pieces become a time indicator formed by physical-relational layers. The marble portrays the discontinuity of the planet and evidences human action as an insignificant event in history. The veins of the marble are interstices that entice us towards a reading of the planetary history, an a-lineal discursive space where human action over matter is merely an event.

The imagery of desolate sceneries are intervened collages where contemporary technical artefacts are added, the latter are confronting the means to transform nature into knowledge and then into human wisdom, which may be regarded as the antithesis of planetary intelligence. The series of collages do not attempt to reproduce reality, but translates it into Euclidean geometry and exposes us to a fictional linearity with which we construct the world in which we live in.

The video ‘Intersticio’ – the centrepiece of the exhibition- can be read as an element that concentrates the nonlinear history of travel. In an open fashion, without beginning or end, the video shows an endless wandering through intermittent spaces, offering us a modus for understanding history. There are two powerful elements throughout the sequel of still images that compose this video: First, the geology of the territories, which are transformed slowly, as if they were a macro indicator of planetary change.

Second, technical artefacts and the subsequent transformation of matter evidence acting as a micro indicator of a human event.

As an end to this journey a deconstructed map and the reference to the text of Borges is displayed in an isolated room. This piece takes us to a mental territory where the notions of absolute and accurate understanding that are immanent on cartographic science become useless. The map is a collection of fragments of a system; residues which do not need to be in order to emphasize the futility of understanding a territory as a real physical topography. Today, we perceive history as a constant feed, as if it was conformed by images from Facebook or Pinterest; the fragmented map evidences that actually we live immersed in a multitude of scattered images.

In this way the stones in the exhibition space refer to the image but at the same time confront the image with reality. The stones seem like pieces extracted from some location within the wander and testimony of how time passes by. One of the intervened rocks is composed of an open book, which shows a collage (similar to the ones exhibited in the show). The book conceptually alludes to narration, history and human knowledge... but the pages of the book are glued together, hence, the installation allows us to infer that the stone refers to its own discursive image. What does this mean? That the image has succeeded in replacing text in order to tell an imbricated story, complex enough to contain the history of humanity.

press release
La Historia Se Descompone En Imágenes No En Historias
Elena Damiani at Revolver Galería, Lima
30th November 2012 - 20th January 2013

Revolver Gallery presents Elena Damiani’s “History Is Decomposed In Images, Not In Stories”, a collection of collages, sculptures and video, which evoke the experiences of the ‘wanderer’. Reworking images found in photographic archives, the exhibit is composed by a series of objects arranged in isolated landscapes. They invoke a certain solitude and longing, and yet they are also tranquil and deeply satisfying. The artist invites her spectators to roam through a deserted territory where landmarks of a not so distant past are sprawled across the landscape serving as a reminder of the time that has come to pass.

The images are meant to be visual embodiments of recollections, like images in a dream that are familiar yet we cannot define. There is no particular order in the exhibit, the images are selected without the necessity of having to do with the other, the idea is that they imitate the memory of the wanderer: fragmented images of places that are now buried in our minds without names or dates, but continue because of the impression they left behind.

The depiction of ruins is a reoccurring theme in Damiani´s work, serving as examples to the finitude of all man made creations, and the mortality of humans themselves. She attempts to paint a poetic image of the ruptured and desolated past existing in the present as ruins, the inevitable fate of all that is and all that will be.

Elena Damiani studied architecture at the “Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas” and then later transferred to the “Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Corriente Alterna” where she graduated in Fine Arts, obtaining the gold and silver medal of her graduating class (2005). Since 2003 she has had four solo shows in Lima, one in London at the Selma Feriani Gallery (2011), and two duo shows in Brussels and Paris with the Elaine Levy Project and Dohyang Lee Galerie (2011). She has been included in several group exhibits in: Madrid, London, Budapest, Valencia, Antwerp, Santa Cruz, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Cordoba, Montevideo, Bonn and Tel Aviv. In 2004 she received a Special Mention (Video Creation Category) in the 12th International Festival Digital Arts and Cultures of Gran Canaria. In 2006 she received the Second Prize at the 9th edition of “Pasaporte Para Un Artista” organized by the French Embassy in Peru, and the Production Prize at 2nd Peruvian Contest of Video and Electronic Arts. She currently lives and works in London, where she received her Masters in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College, University of London (2010).

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