Giuliana Racco (Group Show): Another Place, Frith Street Gallery, London. 18.01.17 > 13.04.16
The practices of Giuliana Racco and Adrian Paci's are personal histories of resettlement, as well as a mutual concern for ideas surrounding mobility, borders and ambiguous identities. The title Another Place is taken from a film by Racco, whose own research focuses on migration and other forms of individual and collective movement across territories. Throughout this exhibition are reflections on displacement as both a physical and emotional state of being, where history is not fixed and lines can be drawn across geography and memory.
Another Place begins with a series of watercolour drawings by Adrian Paci, which originate from a variety of moving-image sources such as Youtube clips and publicly accessible videos. Some works depict unknown groups of bathers and swimmers, as well as stills from films by artist Derek Jarman, whilst others are taken from clips of Albanian Army training videos. The soft-focus, ambivalent qualities of these drawings suggest that images are not objective records of daily life: in fact, the seemingly uncanny bathers are derived from footage of immigrants arriving onto the Italian coast and waiting for days near the sea before being sent away.
The play with source materials continues with Giuliana Racco’s black and white film Mezomaro, whose title comes from the word meaning “Mediterranean” in Esperanto. The work combines animated chalk drawings, photographs, newspaper clippings and archival images to explore ideas of mobility and citizenship, poetically expanding current global situations to the history of people and geography over time. Drawing on Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516) – a work which contains both a proto-science-fiction and a battle scene on Lampedusa, where Racco’s photographs were taken – Mezomaro references our contemporary context by shedding light on how a minuscule island located between continents is connected to a global crisis situation via the multitude of people from different areas of the world attempting to reach its shores.
The exhibition concludes with Paci’s intimate video installation The Guardians, a tale of displaced time and care-taking. The work takes its location within a Catholic cemetery of the artist’s hometown, Shkodra, where children are paid to clean and maintain the graves of pre-Communist ancestors. As with many of his works, Paci uses his own history as a starting point before allowing the work to morph into a wider social reality, transgressing geographical boundaries and the confines of memory.
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Film still. Giuliana Racco, "Mezzomaro", 2016