Ann Lislegaard

Raucci / Santamaria Gallery

A vortex in a mirror of water: A whirlpool—the expression of a quiet and sensual power—pierces the northern European landscape Ann Lislegaard photographed for Vertigo (all works 2000). Calm reigns throughout, except for the intense pressure that the vortex creates around its core. The surface of the water is untroubled and changes direction, drawn into the cavity of the eddy. The clear, even, diffuse light evokes the touch of dry, penetrating cold against our skin, skimming over us, amplifying our perceptions.

Lislegaard’s work involves a dialogue between body and environment. Continuous modifications of the space, produced by light, sounds, and even (in some earlier works) odors, bring about a succession of emotional variations. These alterations find confirmation in the photographic diptych Untitled (In My Eyes): A natural waterfall gushes forth between mountainous inlets enveloped in mist. The work’s emotional effect is provoked not by the presence of the spring, visible in one of the photographs, but rather by the perceptual multiplicity suggested by the spatial shadings indicated in the adjacent image. What overwhelms us is less the power of the torrent than the way it brings into focus the details that surround it: the indications of the shape of the mountains, the particles of water, the mist that obscures the view to the point where the realism of the photograph is lost in favor of a visualization of sensations.

Corner Piece: The Space Between Us, an installation located in one room of the gallery, was made of two white varnished “walls” that paralleled two of the walls of the room. They met to form a comer, a piece of space within the exhibition space. What might have looked like a theatrical wing proved to be, in reality, something more complicated. The surface of the wall was cold and shiny, unlike an ordinary partition. At the corner, four white loudspeaker boxes emitted sounds whose rhythms corresponded with the visual impulses of a light mounted on the other side. We heard a woman’s voice and gathered that she was describing another woman. We became party to the intimacy of feelings couched in murmurs, suggested between pauses in the discourse, hinted at by changes in tone, breathing, inflection. The description continued and began to dwell on the physical characteristics of the space in which the protagonist found herself. Sounds, the sketched-out form of a space, a flash of memory—these were points of departure toward an experience of remembrance, the kind of experience that allows us to reconstruct a place, a person, a situation. As time passes, the available information becomes increasingly dense and interwoven in an introspective dialogue between one emotion and another.

The space presented in the installation was not primarily physical. Each element led to a landscape of the mind. The added walls, shiny and reflective, deflected any material connotation. Even the system of sawhorses supporting the walls, visible from behind, revealed the precariousness of the structure and accentuated its lack of physical solidity. And the sounds we heard underwent continual superimposition, like streams of thoughts. We found ourselves inside some intimate cerebral mechanism, wandering among mental pathways. Feelings multiplied and shattered in a cascade of psychical impulses. The taped soliloquy was transformed into a dialogue and dispersed in numberless imperceptible variations. Penetrating, sensual, and mute, insistent and again calm, reflective or silent, the voice of thought develops its potential in a play of references amid physical sensations and impalpable emotions.

Filippo Romeo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.