artist / participant
The Italian artist Rebecca Agnes recounts stories. In her works she invents fictional tales and unreal, but nevertheless infinitely possible places, and invites the viewer to participate in a journey into imaginary geographies. The language she uses to describe these worlds has a precise, almost scientific tone that recalls to the pages of old manuscripts.
The video A short trip in the other side of the galaxy, where pods grow before falling on earth (2005/06) is, as its title suggests, a journey into an unknown planet to discover how the pods - kind of vegetable organisms - are born and grow. The world where the pods grow, is a sort of underwater submarine reign. Here, amoeba-like creatures settle in the pods, plants mature and flourish, spaceships and cities under geodesic glass domes suddenly appear. Here everything evolves and moves; all is unstable and precarious, so that we are always only treated to a short glance at what is happening. As in every world, there are rules: These are finely and minutely described in the lightbox series Galaxy , which accompanies the video. In these lightboxes, all the species are analyzed and archived as if they were part of a botanical or ethnographic encyclopaedia. All their movements, differences, permutations, displacements and developments are catalogued; so that by observing and studying the lightboxes we can understand how this world functions.
Rebecca Agnes uses different approaches to build up her stories. Cittˆ ( Cities , 2003) consists of ten maps of unreal, hypothetical cities. They reflect the personality and the dreams of the ten people to whom these are maps dedicated and by whom they were inspired. Portraits through places, drawn with an architectural computer program. In a second phase the "owner" of each city intervenes by drawing directly on the map with a felt-pen whatever they felt was missing. In Mappa ( Map , 2002) the geography of the world is subjected to a personal revision. Every place, city or continent where Rebecca Agnes has never been or that she has never had an experience of, is deleted from the map. The result is a fragmented but practised geography that reduces the world into a self-portrait, where the only places that remain are those which have been experienced directly, through Agnes's own travels, or indirectly - through books, stories, film, dreams, or imagination. You couldn't find, for instance, Sicily and Sardinia, but you can see the region of Uqbar narrated by Borges.
Finally, stories are also narrated in Rebecca Agnes's collaborative embroidery works. She asks friends to make up stories and fix them by drawing them on a white cloth that she later embroiders. Even if, in these cases, Agnes gives precise and careful instructions, the result remains - like in a scientific experiment - unknown until the very end.
All these works are defined by Agnes's slowly patient approach. Even when she uses a traditional medium such as embroidery, or an utterly modern one like a computer animation program, the same delicate and refined attitude towards narration and drawing can always be seen.
Where pods grow, before they fall on earth