View of “Eva Marisaldi,” 2017–18. Photo: Francesco Ribuffo.

View of “Eva Marisaldi,” 2017–18. Photo: Francesco Ribuffo.

Eva Marisaldi

View of “Eva Marisaldi,” 2017–18. Photo: Francesco Ribuffo.

This exhibition by Eva Marisaldi, her first solo show in Italy since 2014, was held in a historic gallery in the city where she lives. It showed the artist’s poetic, at times somewhat naive approach to technology in images that, as is typical of her work, seemed hermetic and enigmatic at first glance, but soon revealed their origins in experience.

The walls of the entire irregular space were intersected at eye level by a row of A4 (approximately letter-size) photocopies of a sequence of drawings: scenes of people on boats floating on a lake, taken from a sequence in Roman Polanski’s first feature film, Knife in the Water (1962). It is less the film’s plot that interests the artist than the idea of an unstable territory, a sense of being unmoored. The water in these otherwise black-and-white images was bright blue, forming a near-continuous line through the gallery, disseminating an idea of lightness, almost immateriality, throughout the space. This sensation was reinforced by the presence, above this implicit horizon, of a kinetic sculpture, Surround (wave) (all works 2017). This is a kind of horizontal ladder constructed out of nylon fishing line, sticks, and bolts, connected to a motor shaft so that it moves in a wavelike configuration—in fact it is based on a physics teacher’s model for demonstrating the propagation of waves.

Other images above and below the blue line encouraged different interpretations. Drawings on loose sheets pinned to the wall, as well as some larger framed pieces leaning against the walls, depicted scenes from an amateur YouTube video showing brightly colored parrots reducing sheets of paper to little strips and adorning their tails with them in a courtship ritual that remains aimless, given that they also practice it in the absence of any partner, making it a natural act of whimsy. Another collection of images included sketches resembling scientific diagrams, produced with a computer program created by the musician Enrico Serotti to visualize sound stimuli. On the computer, these figures appear continuously and can be stopped only by freezing frames, a practice the artist has adopted in order to reproduce them in the form of the drawings we saw here, at once impersonal and enigmatic.

Another work, Gli spostati (The Displaced), which unfolded completely on the floor, consisted of a series of sculptures. Their abstract forms seemed weighty, but they were in fact made of cardboard and papier-mâché. They were all painted white, but nonetheless created an encumbrance with their bizarre shapes, acting as a visual counterweight to all the other elements. Though composed of many different components, with various narrative ideas and interpretive possibilities scattered through it, the exhibition felt completely unified—a single polyphonic matrix with many implications.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.