Carola Bonfili
Luca Lo Pinto
published on Terrazza Giovane Arte Italiana, 2013

One of the strongest characteristics of Carola Bonfili’s work and personality is a kind of obsession for so many aspects of reality, whether large or small. The reality could be an imaginary one (cinema, comics, literature) or an everyday one. A rich helping of imagination and sensibility allow her to find or suggest uncanny aspects in many apparently ordinary situations. Hers is an imagination generated by a near-autistic observation of behaviour, gestures, situations, of people and of things. It is then difficult if not reductive to describe her works in words since they often work via a perceptual slippage. For example If (2012) is a large installation made up of a structure, a video projection and an audio track. Going inside the structure, the viewer has to follow a route through a completely dark space after which comes another almost symmetrical space with a faint light source inside. Although depriving us of our sight, If is a work about images and their visualisation as well as being about hope and fear. Albeit more subtly, Multiverse Tree (2011) is another work conceived to provoke a sense of estrangement in the viewer. Fascinated by the polymorphic aspect of a dead olive tree situated in the Apulian countryside, the artist made a symmetrical tree out of cement, thereby bringing natural elements down to the same level as artificial ones. Placed in front of each other, the two trees appear to be in conversation, thanks to the sound composition made by another artist, Matteo Nasini. The artist’s development, especially during her early phase, is deeply rooted in the two-dimensionality of drawing. Drawing is a practice that she still engages in, not as a closed form but as the production of images to be transferred into three dimensions or into the precariousness of limited-run publications. On a first look the works of Bonfili seem like the broken splinters of a not easily discernable unconscious, almost fleeting in their specific abstraction. Nothing however escapes from her total grasp of apparently minor details. They enable her to goad the viewer, bringing out repressed memories and dormant sensations. In one of her first works, called “Mani in Tasca” (Hands in Pockets), she recreated an imaginary classroom with old benches covered by remnants of the students’ presence, adding drawings of her own to the pre-existing ones. A version of Space Oddity by David Bowie, sung by a children’s choir, played in the room. As with other works of hers this one includes a sonic element, employed to shift attention onto a different level that is more narrational or simply hypnotic. This is what occurs in Kipplelake (2010). It is an installation made up of twelve videos recorded on a broken camera and shown under bleachers built by Bonfili to function as a display for both her own work and the work of another artist with whom she shared the exhibition space. The abstract patterns in the videos were augmented by a soundtrack of multiple recordings of animal noises. The syncopated repetition of sonic and visual abstractions creates a sense of calming ecstasy in the viewer, who however remains aware, as Philp K. Dick wrote, that reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.