Sabrina Torelli

For Sabrina Torelli, a young artist from Bologna, sound is a sort of trap, presenting the viewer, as she says, with “openings, entrances, sometimes made up of a sound, a repetitive rhythm, an infinitely prolonged phrase, so-called signals of recall.” As a result, the senses are snared and attention is focused on secondary and peripheral aspects of perception. In her recent show an entire wall was taken up with a video projection, Apparati di cattura (Apparatus of capture), 2000, the title of which comes from Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (1980). In this piece the artist reworks her recollection of a voyage, and of an image that has remained lodged in her memory: the evanescent shadow of clouds passing rapidly over an expanse of desert. In the darkened room, viewers had the illusion of confronting a space that was boundless but punctuated by a double rhythm: the passing shadow in the video image and the sound accompanying it. The sound—hypnotic, paranoiac, hammering—was a mix of dubbed noises, including the guttural, inarticulate, incoherent voice of the artist herself.

In previous works, Torelli often investigated neurological illness and behavioral disorder, or syndromes that lead to a loss of consciousness and control but through which one might gain access to a different way of perceiving reality. For example, her performance Onda su onda (Wave upon wave), 1998, was based on the emission of sounds from her larynx, obtained through a complex and painful physical exercise, as if to elicit the echoes of deviant experiences and regressive personality impulses. The reiteration of sound induces a sort of alienation, stressing the disengagement between the reality of the senses and the objectivity of the world.

In this regard it is worth emphasizing the artifice by which the subjective impression that was Torelli’s point of departure for Apparatus of capture is conveyed to the viewer. The artist used a shot of an ordinary, dirty sidewalk, reworked in 3D, to create an image that refers in turn to another memory image. What we see and interpret is different from what is objectively portrayed. Thus the video shows how an elaboration of reality results in continuous shifts of meaning and perception, the evolution of which follows a route marked by unstable boundaries. This process is also exemplified by Parentele (Kinships), 2000, the other piece in the show. In comparison to the video, which immerses the spectator, this piece is less dependent on subjective and sensory interpretation. Forty large inflatable rubber spheres were grouped one against another, forming what seemed to be an enormous molecular chain. On the spheres the artist had drawn various images, predominantly using grids, gleaned from historical and contemporary sources (including maps of minefields, the Web, satellite photographs of tropical storms, and ancient mandalas). Here, too, both the juxtapositions of images and the instability of the arrangement of the spheres, which can be reconfigured mentally to form endless alternate chains of meaning, allude to those continuous shifts of physical and cognitive boundaries that are the subject of Deleuze and Guattari’s text.

Alessandra Pioselli

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.