01 November 2016


Now open at LEA21 is Monochrome by artist Giovanna Cerise. This installation, which might at first seem deceptively simple, begins on the ground level, then extends to two additional locations overhead, the second and third areas reaching high into the sky, becoming successively more complex. Reflecting the title, each level focuses on a single color: black for the ground, white for the middle level, and red for the culmination. Giovanna encourages visitors to play with various windlight settings, many of which impart color to the scene (for example, the light blue in the image below or the vivid hues in the lowest image), so the monochromatic exploration may speak more to the artist's choice of materials than it will to the visitor experience.

The black ground level rests over the sea, a construction of overlapping and interlocking rectangles, many of which gently reflect light. Lengthy vertical beams, some more than 50 meters tall, create additional rectangular shapes as they intersect with the floors and horizontal prims, so that the space might resemble something like an exploded maze. Toward the center, a trio of female figures seem to be threading boxes onto strings (or color curves, as they seem to be called) and one of the figures holds a pair of scissors, ready to snip (top image). They are The Three Fates: "One spins the thread of life (maiden), one measures it (mother), one cuts it (crone), and that's a life," explained my partner, Kinn. "She spins, she measures, she cuts. The fates are one woman in three bodies, at three ages: white for the purity of the maiden; red for the passion of the mature woman, the mother; and black for old age and death...the crone." To which Giovanna added, quoting Wikipedia, "They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal and immortal from birth to death. Even the gods feared the Parcae."

The white middle level invites us to explore a flat plain of transparent boxes and rectangles, held together with struts that create complex geometric patterns (image above). Large magnifying glasses positioned throughout the space seem to beckon us to explore or investigate, and the careful observer will discover the forms of several identical women, heads bowed, legs crossed, and arms outstretched to the back, as if either held from behind or pushing forward against heavy odds. Above this platform, stretching into the sky, rises a tangle of boxes, and here the figure of a woman dances, her head held high, arms outstretched and legs spread open (image below). She stands on a magnifying glass while one stands next to her: is she looking through it, or is it there for us to look at her? (Note: on my Mac using Firestorm, I had to decrease glow strength considerably from the default in order to see this part of the installation, which otherwise appeared to be bright white blobs.)

The final red level is a startling, explosive scene — from the side looking something like the disc of a whirlpool galaxy (image below). In contrast to the static overhead section of the white level, this section gives the impression of a split second captured in time, as if it were a frozen image of things swirling in motion. We see only the insides of the red rectangles, not their outsides, heightening our sense of movement as we cam about. The exterior of the scene is wrapped with giant cubes and strings, reminiscent of the black level, and the female figures from the white level return, grouped around the center and seemingly spawning the red cubes, and these eventually morph into twine, rising up into the sky to rope together the pages of a book. Large drips (of blood?) seem to descend from the sky to create the great red mass in the center.

"Monochrome is part of a series of works focused on the exploration of color in all its components and inferences," says the artist. "The installation can be considered an arrival point of an itinerary that began with Synesthesia [read here] and with participation in The Cube Project [read here], but it is certainly a starting point for further development of this research work ... The choice of black, white and red was dictated by my passion for these colors that evoke a multitude of contrasting references, in agreement or in continuation with each other. Since the purpose of the work was to focus the attention emotional - mental on color I chose to use like almost exclusive form the cube-modulated transparency and shadows, entering at the same time the elements that we can define noise, clarifiers, complementary, subordinate depending on your point of view that they can assume for each. The invitation, then, is to experience the different possibilities of light and ambience offering the virtual world. Single color it takes on different aspects and nuances almost endless and the effects increase and multiply, creating a restless disorientation." The installation will remain on display through December.

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