Eva Marisaldi

Eva Marisaldi’s installations are poetic and enigmatic, mixing drawing, video, and objects to create environments evocative of the idiosyncrasies—both strange and beautiful—of the human condition. This exhibition, “Iperfluo” (Hyperfluous), was based on a philosophical reflection on stone, playing the durability of the mineral world against the relatively ephemeral essence of human existence. Invoking the Surrealist-allied writer and amateur geologist Roger Caillois, particularly his 1970 essay “The Writing of Stones,” Marisaldi examined the aesthetics and symbolism of rocks and their influence on the imagination.

In two miniature tableaux, built like architectural maquettes and attached to the wall, she created spaces in which stones of varying shapes, sizes, and colors are substituted for human figures. In one, Iperfluo (Disco) (Hyperfluous [Disco]; all works 2005) a dance floor moves to the rhythm of heavy, continually pounding bass while dozens of stones bounce to the beat. The action is filmed by a video surveillance camera, which pans the scene and transmits it in real time to a flat-screen monitor nearby. The second maquette, Iperfluo (Moto) (Hyperfluous [Movement]) is of a generic, almost abstract landscape painted as backdrop to a field filled with stones, which periodically move in unison to earthquakelike tremors. Again, the scene is filtered through the lens of a camera, flattened and rescaled onto another monitor, calling attention to the way filming distorts the “real” world. The results are humorous in their absurdity but also somehow touching in the depictions of both the natural disasters and the ordinary pleasures people experience.

On the wall directly across the room were two simple line drawings, Spostamento (A) (Displacement [A]) and Spostamento (B) (Displacement [B]), which pick up on the earthquake theme, showing children—alone or in small groups—jumping. They are drawn as if intended to be single frames of a cartoon animation and, on reading the accompanying label, this sense of impending movement corresponds to the images’ source: an article from an English newspaper reporting a countrywide science project in which thousands of schoolchildren jumped simultaneously in an (unsuccessful) attempt to create a vibration strong enough to measure on the Richter scale.

In a back room, separated from the rest of the exhibition, was a wall-projected video, also entitled Spostamento, which is at first difficult to read, the images having been covered by loosely formed, barely focused, almost painterly colored “strokes.” The movements of a figure lifting a boulder to stop up the mouth of a cave are vaguely discernible and on closer inspection turn out to be scenes from ’50s and ’60s movie versions of the Odyssey, specifically the story of Polyphemus, the blinded Cyclops who, having been outwitted by Odysseus, angrily and futilely threw a huge rock at his departing ship.

The exhibition’s tone, while generally lighthearted, had an existential undercurrent, evoking thoughts of man’s hubris in the face of mortality and physical transience. While human ingenuity has allowed civilizations to use nature—and the mineral world in particular—to build enduring monuments to their achievements, it is the resilience of stones themselves that speaks to a truer sense of steadfastness through the ages.

Elizabeth Janus