IF, 2011

If, 2012, installation’s view, mixed media, audio project by Matteo Nasini, MACRO, Rome
If, details

“If” is a work composed of a structure which is meant to be entered, a video projection and an audio track. The interior of the structure consists of a tactile path in complete darkness that leads to the first of two similar spaces which is also completely dark. From there another path leads to the second space containing a dim light source. “If” is a work about expectation, perception and visualization of images without the influence of sight.

If, text by Ilaria Bonacossa

If… is a multimedia – in fact a poly-sensory – installation that uses a spatial environment supplemented by a sound and vi- deo installation in order to question what it means to experience a work of contemporary art. In her temporary studio at the MACRO, Carola Bonfili has created a spatial environment enclosed within a single construction which contains no openings, surrounding the visitor in complete darkness. Visitors to the installation enter a cube covered by a thin metallic mesh and continue down a fixed route through corridors that contain anthropomorphous bulges, narrow stretches, and compartments where we come up against soft suspended objects lined with different materials; we brush against velvet, fur, silk, foam rubber and silicon. Inside IF’s dark spaces, shapes touch us and push us against the walls, which wrap around themselves and thrust us into spaces that can only be discovered and navigated through touch. Initially, the dark universe in which we find ourselves immersed is threatening, leaving us suspended in a precarious balance. One by one we move gropingly through this installation until we find ourselves in an environment lit by an iridescence that enables a dream-like and lunar sight. Our movements in this ‘womblike’ (all the materials are reassu- ring and encompassing) labyrinth are guided not only by our sense of touch but also by the sounds of far-off exterior noises, meaning that we experience the work’s visual isolation as an interior phenomenon. The distant echoes of voices of adults and children, of muffled laughter, which are likely to come from outside, offer an open experience of shared emotion, but one in which the shapes and sounds recount different stories and situations in relation to each person’s mood. The work is inspired by the ancient Indian legend of the six blind men and the elephant, in which the men are asked to touch an elephant and then describe it; however, since they have each touched a different part of the animal (either its tusk, its tail, its ears, its trunk, its sides, its hooves) their descriptions are contradictory and incompatible. This metaphor for the relativity of experience is for Carola Bonfili the inspiration for an installation that, by making us temporarily blind, gets us to decode a sensory experience which is at the same time unique and shared, demonstrating the arbitrary nature of how we conceive of the world. Similarly the semi-static image of the branches of two cypress trees waving in the wind, combining with an unending series of whispers, places us in the midst of a dialogue from which however we remain excluded.