Eva Marisaldi

Eva Marisaldi’s recent solo exhibition consisted of a selection of works (all 1999) all quite different from each other, and the title of the show. “Accampamenti” (Encampments), with its evocation of the nomadic life, emphasized the multiplicity of directions the artist has taken in her current investigations.

The viewer was greeted by a series of small objects placed on the floor on both sides of the gallery entrance. At first glance, they appeared to be simple wooden stools, but the tops of the seats, which sported green-and-white striped cushions, could be lifted, revealing compartments holding small, stuffed “toys” covered in the same green-and-white striped fabric (except for one covered in red). At the show’s opening, the artist, in performance mode, lifted the stool covers and partially revealed these objects (which included a little horse, a miniature piano, and other small, more abstract shapes), arranging them in various configurations. Entitling her bizarre playthings Gli Spilli (The pins), the artist says she was inspired by the floats of the carnival of San Giovanni, in Persiceto, a village near her hometown of Bologna. According to local tradition, at the end of the parade, similarly deceptive floats are opened up and transformed by the decorative props hidden inside them.

Another work, entitled Monologo (Monologue), consisted of a large, computer-manipulated photograph. At the center of a natural landscape, a man is captured in a meditative moment, while all around him swarms a crowd of people, none of whom seem engaged in dialogue with anyone else. This enigmatic view of a multiplicity of noncommunicative subjects was offset by the presence of another, untitled work, in which two sacks—one green, one brown—hang on the wall. Resembling mail bags, they conjured the kind of intimate interpersonal communication that seemed absent in the large photographic composition.

The viewer was then drawn toward a piece comprising five neon elements placed against a wall at the back of the room. Near the neon renderings of a bush and a car were three human silhouettes, also made of neon, that lit up and darkened in succession, creating the impression that a figure was emerging from the right and walking toward the left. The work repeated something the artist had witnessed by chance: a distinguished gentleman with an overnight bag popping out of a hedge along a city street and then calmly waking away. In reality, the man had come from a parking lot through a shortcut opening in the hedge, but he struck the artist as a surreal apparition unexpectedly inserted into a quotidian street scene, and she wanted to develop that image as such.

The last work in the show, entitled Polaroid, was displayed in the exhibition area and in the gallery office. On thirty-nine rectangular slates of aluminum each the size of a Polaroid, the artist imprinted a series of statements describing objects, characters, and scenes. Implicitly inviting the viewer to imagine the elements described and virtually comparing different languages, Marisaldi seemed to be encouraging an interpretation of her recent work as a stimulus to the development of new narrative possibilities.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore