Maria Nordman

Galleria Tucci Russo

In her exhibition, entitled “dalle notte al giorno da una mano all’altra” (from night to day, from one hand to the other), 1990, Maria Nordman rearranges the usual view of the earth/sky, nature/culture relationship. Here, creation—the cycle of life within which any human being may find its source and its end—is not ruled by a universal measure, but, rather, by subjective, human speculation. A certain discontinuity takes shape, severing the norms and protocols of traditional scientific knowledge: it is the discontinuity that we experience when we make use of that more ancient knowledge of the stars and the heavenly bodies. Nordman reexamines geographical data and traces the astral and territorial coordinates of her “cities of light,” making visible the relationship between the great rivers around which the civilizations of the world have risen and the constellations that have influenced them and that still guide and protect them. In her world, racial divisions vanish. Instead, differences develop according to the influences of the constellations.

The projects were presented on ten wood tables, with a chair placed in front of each. A rectangular wooden box evoked the image of a book standing on a tabletop. Though one could not flip through the book, one could easily pull two pages from it. On the first, the front side showed the plan of each of these astral cities; the rear side held a sheet of monochrome wood, painted blue, white, orange, red, green, yellow, black, or purple. The second page was made up of a very thin sheet of marble held between two pieces of glass. A light was placed in front of it, and when the viewer passed behind it and sat on the chair the light became a constituent element of the marble. The paper-like thinness of the stone suggested a vision of the terrestrial crust seen from within, from that incandescent core of living flame.

On each of the last two tables, there was a drawing instead of the marble page. The first contained two colored stains (blue and red), in the second, powdered pigment was impressed in the form of a snail, a design that fossils often leave in marble. However, as in the stone pages, the brilliance of the color could only be perceived from the rear, when the paper was situated between the light and the viewer’s eyes. On the last table, astral determinations supplant differences that depend on territorial divisions. In this dark installation, the earth no longer represents the feminine in relationship with the sky, which is inhabited by the Father; Nordman’s vision exceeds this traditional polarity, creating a new coexistence between the earth and the heavenly bodies that inhabit the sky.

Nordman’s formal articulation translates the enigma that lies at the origins of our speculation on the universe. In fact, the very last table, upon which it is possible to read the image of the earth and its relationship to the stars, leads us to question our own rational and emotional origins, our sensory perception by which we take measure of our passage on this earth.

Francesca Pasini

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.