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LINDA FREGNI NAGLER - How to Look at a Camera
Linda Fregni Nagler has been gathering images for years. Her work has always originated from these collections. The genesis of this exhibition, How to Look at a Camera, the third solo show at Galleria Monica De Cardenas, develops from a series of images showing blind people and figures seen from behind. The latter often remain enigmatic. A carte de visite that presented – or so it seemed – an upside-down flower, was quite mysterious at first
About ten pieces – the largest body of works in the exhibition – involve this subject, the veiled woman in Peru in the 19th century. Especially in Lima, women of rank could be seen in the street after the morning mass, or during a stroll at dusk, covered with garments that concealed their charms, protecting their privacy and anonymity. Their costume – the saya y manto – was of Andalusian origin. The evolution of its use transformed this raiment into a tool of seduction. Only a single eye could be seen of the entirely cloaked body, through the opening of the veil. With this eye, the tapada invented strategies to entice admirers. The foreign photographers who settled in Lima halfway through the 1800s were also fascinated – the Courret brothers or Eugène Maunoury, for example, both correspondents of the Nadar studio in Paris.
Posing in the studio, the tapada who peers into the camera is a cyclops facing a cyclops.
The lens, in the end, is a synthesis of the two eyes that approach each other to the point of overlapping. The meaning of this exhibition lies in the economy of the gaze of these women. The attraction to the material aspect of photography and familiarity with its techniques have led Linda Fregni Nagler to experiment with the photogravure process, in a larger format than the original. The images are mechanically etched on a zinc plate which after treatment becomes the matrix for printing with a press. Various modes of offering or denying the gaze, the ritual character of posing in a photography studio, the awareness of being photographed, the way of looking from one eye only: these are the factors that emerge in the gathering of these images that Linda Fregni Nagler has collected and selected for translation into a new visual orchestration.
Linda Fregni Nagler (Stockholm, 1976) presented Things that Death Cannot Destroy at the Teatro dell’Arte of Triennale di Milano in 2019, work that began in 2009 and developed over the years as a single body of performative actions in various museums and institutions, including the Moderna Museet of Stockholm and Teatro Valle in Rome. In 2017 she curated the exhibition Hercule Florence. Le Nouveau Robinson at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. Winner of the ACACIA Prize in 2016, she was a finalist of the Premio MAXXI (Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo) in Rome in 2014. In 2013 she took part in the 55th Venice Biennale, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, in a special section curated by Cindy Sherman. That same year MACK Books (London) published her monograph titled The Hidden Mother, based on the work shown at the Biennale. She has a degree from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, where she teaches in the master program in photography.
Project Room: JOHAN ÖSTERHOLM - Night Lights
In the early hours of January 17th, 1994, some 116 years after the invention of the first light bulb, the powerful Northridge earthquake struck the Los Angeles area, knocking out power across a broad swath of Southern California and plunging millions into unaccustomed darkness. Emergency hotlines soon began receiving reports, from panicked residents who had evacuated their homes, of an eerie band of otherworldly light looming in the sky over blacked-out neighborhoods. The sinister alien glow, it turned out, was the Milky Way itself, long eclipsed by the incandescence of Los Angeles. In the century and change since civilization’s embrace of artificial illumination, the true night sky had so receded from collective awareness as if into the prehistoric past.
The common perception is that darkness ‘falls’ upon the land, much like rain or snow, when in reality it rises from the eastern horizon as the Earth turns its back on the Sun. For millennia, the darkness of night was absolute, challenged only by the cave or hearth fire, the stars and the Moon—all of which have been central to terrestrial mythology since the dawn of humanity. Fast forward to the second half of the 19th century, when inventors began tinkering with an innovation that would turn out to be perhaps the most transformative we humans have introduced into our solar system: the light bulb. In rapid order, the metropolises were soon ablaze around the clock, and there were discussions about how best to turn night into day by abolishing the former once and for all.
In his exhibition Night Lights, Johan Österholm uses photography as a medium for reflecting on evolving conceptions of what constitutes a nightscape and what counts as ‘darkness’. He approaches the subject of light pollution and nocturnal illumination as a kind of historian of light, carefully combining archival material and archaic photographic processes with the glare of artificial city lights as well as the more enigmatic light of the full moon. Among the exhibiting works, the ones called Lantern Smashers depict sparrows who reclaim some darkness for the city, by building nests inside of still-in-use decorative gas lamps. Furthermore we present a series of works made by the artist utilizing actual street lights and photographic emulsion to imprint long obscured sections of the night sky onto antique paper, and glass plates recalling the silhouette of gas-lamp frames. Other pieces unveil instead images of constellations overlapping urban street lamps (Concealer, 2018).
Johan Österholm (born 1983 in Borås, Sweden) received his MFA from Malmö Art Academy in 2016. Previous and upcoming exhibition include: Moonlight, Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg; Osmoscosmos, Centre de la Photographie Genève; Back to the Future, Foam, Amsterdam, C/O Berlin & Mai Manó Ház, Budapest; Screens and Mirrors, Borås Museum of Modern Art and La Camera: On the materiality of photography, Palazzo De’ Toschi, Bologna. He has been awarded several residencies, most recently Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin in 2018. He lives and works in Stockholm.