Rome

Sarah Ciracì

MACRO - Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Roma

Sci-fi films and literature, with their pseudoscientific theories about UFOs and speculations about other worlds, are the underlying references for Sarah Ciracì’s photographic work and videos. Through the digital manipulation of images she constructs visionary, oneiric landscapes, creating a simulation of hypothetical future scenarios. Her installation for Macro, Oh my God is full of stars, 2004, presented a sequence of images of starry skies and galaxies, doors, corridors, and spaceship control rooms, taken from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and other science-fiction films. The twelve video projections that make up the piece completely covered the four walls of the room, projecting viewers into a space voyage as if they were at the center of a vehicle made up of labyrinthine, lifeless spaces: doors that open onto nothingness, infinite corridors, deserted rooms, vast windows looking out onto a black sky. In the end, the alternating and synchronized images offered a view of an explosion of light and stars, accompanied by a sound track made up of sounds and voices taken from various films and set to a beat by DJ Bill Coleman.

Ciracì also reworks the sense of epic discovery and mystery that informed early attempts at space exploration as well as the literature and imagery connected to it—the faith in technology and new discoveries so characteristic of the ’50s and ’60s. She does so with an ironic edge, evident even in the title she chose for her new work: The phrase “Oh my God” conveys the sense of ingenuous awe and optimistic wonder inspired by the technological conquests during this era. The same ironic value was present in an earlier work, Non ero particolarmente stupita di vederli comparire all’orizonte ma non avrei mai immaginato che sarebbero atterrati per parlarmi del loro pianeta (I was not particularly astonished to see their appearance on the horizon, but I never imagined that they were landing to speak to me about their planet), 1995, a photograph showing a small, bewildered human figure observing the luminous sky.

Ciracì’s images always have their sources in the media—films, books, comic strips, and so on. Their digital manipulation is patent, with forms and landscapes that appear artificial and synthetic. In this way the artist declares the media-value of all images: The imagination is oriented and defined by technology, by the media, and by the entertainment industry. The future depicted by Ciracì is cold, distant, and impersonal. Like most of her work, Oh my God is full of stars has no human presence (when human beings have appeared in her oeuvre, they’ve merely played small bit parts). The sole presence is that of the viewer who, surrounded by images, becomes a protagonist in the labyrinth of spaces, skies, and technological instruments that follow, one after another, in a hypnotic rhythm. It is a world that is indifferent, but also unknown.

The artist ironically reworks our fetishization of technology, while evoking the real fears tied to it. She shows the metaphysical aspirations of man, the dreams and desires that lead toward mysterious and solitary territories, and the attraction toward the void or the unexplored, but always in a way that leaves us with a certain disquiet.

Alessandra Pioselli

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.