In Depth (Minefields)
Dates: 18/05 – 14/07/2019
Artist: Alice Miceli
Curator: Luiz Camillo Osorio
Local: Galeria Aymoré
Exhibit - PIPA Institute
In Depth (Minefields)
Images of what is not shown: the sublime underground
The series In Depth: Minefields (Em Profundidade: Campos Minados) by Alice Miceli, a project that she has been working on for the last few years, exemplifies a fundamental aspect of her poetics: the combination of politics, the image and photographic experimentation. She explores territories that have undergone bloody conflicts and where the killing continues even after peace has been declared. The underground mines continue to explode there. International organizations are working to defuse them. The question is how to get there, how to explain the relevance of her artistic project and how to work with the image in order that it is not simply an illustration of a cause or question. Knowing of the progress of this project, in 2018 the PIPA Institute commissioned the last stage of the series in Angola, and acquired the remaining stages in order to have the complete series in its collection.
There is no drama in the images: they are banal and beguiling landscapes. If you pass by quickly, you won't see anything. And therein lies the danger. This series of minefields investigates a question that was central to her previous project about Chernobyl – finding a certain visibility for what tangibly threatens us and is not perceptible to the eye (or the camera). How does one transform this invisibility into an image? Pursuing this veiled image implies knowing that there is a constant dislocation between what we see and what we know, that not everything we know can be visualized, and that imagining and seeking to give an image to what is hidden is one of the tasks of artistic experimentation.
There is a whole body of research and experience in these minefields that permeates the photographic act. Several studies are made in the process. We believe it’s important to bring to the display cases these preliminary steps, revealing, without didacticism or wanting to provide the key to an enigma, the daily routine of her artistic work. The images are of a mundane landscape; there are markings and a certain suspense. Everything is about to happen, for better and for worse. The strange and the familiar lie before our gaze.
This series seems to me to be about this – about the veiled memory of war, about the stubbornness of the insurmountable territory, about the fear of moving that remains as a residue (palpable and unconscious) of a war that is finished but which never ends. More than anything, what stands out in these minefields is a process of walking where there are risks, which transforms the hesitation of the photographer into action, into the intrinsic hesitation of the gaze of the spectator, who sees an image that is always the same and always different, at once moving away and coming closer. Passing through these four series enables us to learn a little more about the geopolitical history of the contemporary world, to perceive the margins of the conflicts, their dangerous, underground residues, the conflicts of art and the artistic image, showing, dislocating, participating in, transforming, retreating from and stripping away given meanings, being frustrated at being able to do so little, being captivated at wanting so much, allowing us to see what is (and not what we see).
Luiz Camillo Osorio