Angella Conte | Cotidiano Inventado
de 16/05 até 05/06
Everyday collage and cultural ecology in the work of Angella Conte.

Angella Conte’s photographic archive is formed by images with a vocation to mingle. Not in the sense of confusing themselves within memory, but to really blend; of possessing convergent points strong enough to take them out of their chronologic, geographic order, to mix artistic with touristic captures, the discovered with the planned, the dream with the nightmare.

What unites a conjunction of these images is just as singular as what separates them, to restart and then break again the matching game that never ceases to be reinvented. A grouping of photos of alleys, taken world-wide and with different purposes, has yet been formalized as a unified photograph, which puts an alley over the other, generating a claustrophobic urban structure and something surrealistic. (However, it’s important to notice that the “digital collage” was consciously dry, to leave the operation exposed.)

For this grouping – which may have seemed finished for the most unwary (that is, finished in its own potential to keep on adding alleys of the world infinetely) – stands now as an essential element for a new digital collage. In this new arrangement, the collection of alleys makes way for an unusual overlapping of landscapes. In all collages of the Cotidiano Inventando serie, we witness an acquaintanceship between different places and distinct temporalities.

The luminosity of the sunset seems incompatible with the soft lightning  that bathes the young gathered in a pic-nik on another landscape, just as a greyish and poluted sky that covers the big city is not consistent with the strong temperature over a stumbling crowd – with their backs turned to us – that watches closely a fact that is also not given for us to see. At times, the contrast is contextual, as in the convex mirror hanging in a tree that reveals an urban landscape in what would be the counter-plan of the photo in which the mirror was planted. Or as in the field with hay rolls that emerges prisoned in a building of a few centuries ago. Nature and culture in weird conversations. 
 
 In many images, a female figure is repeated, leading enigmatic actions. She naps in what appears to be a living room built outdoors. She walks, dressed in gold, carrying a disproportional volume of white baloons through desolate landscapes. She is blindfolded, with her hands tied to her back, in the middle of a road. It’s about the artist herself, originally portrayed during performances held between 2007 and 2012 in urban areas in Brazil and Europe (Portugal and Ireland). Mixed to other times and contexts, these portraits lose their initial connotation (to approach the contrast between public and private or to alert for the numbness about nature or the personal routes in a city, for example) to transmit new senses or to reveal previously hidden meanings.  

The same goes for all recombinations of images, which are nothing more than previous works of the artist mixed together. We are, therefore, facing a long repertoire or even a transformed archive, just as the Retrospective by Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim Museum of New York last year – when he hanged all of his works (originals or small-sized reproductions), creating an entirely new piece (or a new and audacious format of retrospective exhibition).

What’s at stake here? First of all, a wisdom that Conte and Cattelan share: the consciousness that in contemporary art, as in nature, nothing is created, everything is transformed. Then – and here the resemblances cease between the two artists -, a properly ecologic philosophy.

The logics of collage, which permeate all of Angella Conte’s works, allows a “natural” continuity between the different themes and materials that the artist operates with. Because everything – photography, vídeo, text, sculpture, found objects, mundane objects and noble objects, the tradition of art and nature’s stage – is potentially matchable, re-matchable and reusable. So she dedicates to the universe of pieces she’s already held the same orientation she prints to the set of raw materials and speeches she choses.

Everything thickens the course of her ecological culture. E nothing could be more contemporary. As teaches us the semiotician Lucia Santaella, we live the landmark of the fourth paradigm of the image. The first paradigm was the pre-photographic era – the usage of hand made images -; the second paradigm was the photographic itself, in other words, the one with the technical images that kept from the real the trail of the visible that the camera captures. Followed up by the third paradigm, post-photographic, of digital images. Today, what prevails – the fourth paradigm – is the hybrid image.

The works in the Cotidiano Inventado serie mix spatiotemporal records, blend artistic discourses and hybridize crafty experiences (pre-photographic), photographic and manipulated/built (post-photographic) of Angella Conte, presenting us a quicksand and poetic reality that can be understood as those from the cinema and fantastic literature, from videogames or the virtual universe.

But that, more precisely, mirrors the contemporary sensitivity/experience of conjugating all of these paralel worlds in one, the one that we routinely call life.

Juliana Monachesi
May/2013