Abigail Lane

Via Farini 35

To leave a mark on history is every individual’s aspiration. Abigail Lane, a 25-year-old English artist who attended Goldsmith’s College in London, invests her work with this vision. Making History (all works 1992) supplied the interpretive key for this show. It consists of a series of photographs, arranged in a sequence of four, with a single unit added on. This work captures the progress of a footstep through the image of a woman’s two bare legs depicted from the knees down. The feet are clad in thick-soled clogs that leave the sign of their passage on the floor. In this manner, Lane introduces the idea of the complexity of history’s formation and the traces of life that permeate it. In fact, the legs are anonymous, while the footprint is as personal as a fingerprint. This contrast points out the subjectivity of a specific route and its inevitable merging with the path of the world. The individual physicality of the traces demonstrates how emotions and thoughts are rooted in the corpus of history, and how their interpretation cannot be limited to rational schemes. Lane’s choice to emphasize the personal, which is generally hidden in traditional historical profiles, creates a shift: this is not a visual commentary on a cultural system, but an orientation that points out, in the creative perception, the fundamental element of our relationship with history, be it personal or collective.

The clog can be seen as the instrument that aids the human being in his or her journey on earth. One must remember, however, that such tools are also tied to the body, and therefore to the emotional corporeality of sentiments and ideas. Entitled Shoes, the clogs were exhibited in a transparent Plexiglas vitrine, above a white base. But the anonymity of the name is only superficial; in fact, they can be produced only on the basis of a real and individual footprint. In Reference Points, a chair was placed in front of the wall; its seat consisted of a blotter soaked in ink, and on the wall was a photograph of the impression of a naked bottom, again of a woman. The chair and the impression of the bottom forced observers to confront their own nudity, as if by sitting there they could see their own bodily impression. This is not a private glance, but one that opens up to a creative perception. If this opening doesn’t occur, art remains closed to us; the distance between viewer and work is unfilled, and the exclusion of the dialogue between inner and outer reality, between subject and object, resurfaces. Elaborating the distance between the self and the world, we can leave our own footprints in history and thus integrate a corporeal-emotional reality and a mental-rational one.

Francesca Pasini

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.