Milan

Liliana Moro

Galleria Emi Fontana

Two basic elements made up Liliana Moro's installation, “ ”, 2001. The first was a material, glass, fragments of which covered the floors of the gallery's four rooms and crunched underfoot. You could say that the sharp, dry noise of the shards' continual shattering occupied the space as much as the sole object on display, also made of glass: a baby's crib, which stood as a cold, empty, and solitary presence in the middle of the last room. The second element was nothing more than a hole in the wall between two rooms. At first barely visible and seemingly negligible, this intervention in the gallery architecture ultimately provided an interpretive key for the installation.

Glass is a material that the artist has used in previous works to suggest contrary meanings—purity, clarity, fragility, and transparency versus danger, severity, and razor sharpness. Here, Moro evoked the world of childhood (suggested by the crib) as a metaphor for the relationship between innocence and cruelty, between vulnerability and violence. This is a world that has often been visited in order to narrate stories with or without happy endings. But Moro doesn't tell a story. Rather she organizes a mise-en-scène, arranging the elements of the installation (the glass fragments, the crib, the hole) in such a way as to induce the viewer to make specific gestures and above all to become an actor in the artist's scenario despite the possibly disturbing implications of that participation.

First of all, one had to walk on the glass, breaking it and thereby creating with one's footsteps insidious, penetrating, and unmelodious sound fragments. Subsequent movements, room by room, brought us, like witches in some fairy tale, closer to the fragile crib that sat on the precarious splintered-glass surface. Moreover, viewers were invited to carry out another operation, either at the beginning or the end of their visit: to squint through the hole. This is an extremely powerful and indiscreet gesture. The hole connected the second room to the one containing the crib, and the aperture acted as a perspectival cone framing the solitary, abandoned little object. Thus the viewer was forced to assume the embarrassing and unseemly role of the voyeur—impotent in the face of a tenuous equilibrium and possible tragedy. From this aperture one could spy on a scene in which nothing was happening; the immobility of the context only heightened the sense of danger, fear, and uncertainty. The hole became the fundamental element of the piece because it compelled the public to observe in a particular way and to become aware of the significance—and the violence—of its gaze.

Alessandra Pioselli

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.