Critics’ Picks

Duncan Marquiss, still from A Nothing with a Vengeance, 2007, color video with sound.

Siracusa

Che ci faccio qui?” (What Am I Doing Here?)

Montevergini
Galleria Civica d'arte Contemporanea di Siracusa Via S. Lucia alla Badia 1
March 25–June 30

“What am I doing here?” asks the exhibition’s title, but there is a clear reason why artists Artur Zmijewski, Duncan Marquiss, and Sancho Silva are exhibiting in Montevergini: This is the final part of a new residency program that focuses on using historical sites as stages for contemporary works of art. Commissions by Zmijewski and Silva create a relationship between Siracusa's streets and the more elusive and separate sphere of the gallery space. To produce his films Salvatore, Aldo, and Giuseppe (all works 2007), Zmijewski followed three maintenance workers for a twenty-four-hour period. It is hard to imagine the idyllic, white stone streets of Siracusa being cleaned or tended. By exposing the invisible support structure that society takes for granted, Zmijewski strikes a chord of guilty appreciation. Silva’s EYE MONSTER uses a side door to penetrate the exhibition with a human-scale periscope. When inside the periscope room, the visitor is both in the exhibition and separated from it. This displacement is only understood on seeing the structure’s wooden casing in the gallery space, where it appears comically bulky compared with the weightless effect created by the reflections inside. Its presence absorbs a more intense use of light in Marquiss’s video A Nothing with a Vengeance. Including stills shot in the nearby town of Sciclis’s caves, the fleeting colors and strobe effect of this dreamlike sequence help blend the mythological characters of Silva’s optical illusion and Zmijewski’s invisible people, rooting the exhibition in the ethereal texture of Siracusa.