The exhibition brings together works ranging from her debut projects in the early 1970s right up to the still unpublished Winter, which the artist has been working on for more than ten years. It will be this image – accompanied by a number of sculptures created for the installation from which the photograph was taken – that will serve as the fulcrum of the display: a spectacular world premiere, once again confirming the uniqueness of her research and her language, developed at the height of the conceptual climate only to evolve through an imagery suspended between dreams and reality, one of an extraordinary evocative power.
The exhibition thus allows us to follow this path through more than hundred works, almost all large format images. Ranging from the earliest photographic series in the mid ’70s, which already feature the characteristic themes of the domestic setting and its transformation into a place of apparitions between the comical and the unsettling, right up to the great compositions of the early 1980s, which were to lead the artist to international fame. In particular, we recall the visionary Radioactive Cats (1980) and her Revenge of the Goldfish (1981), which became outright icons of the period, surreal and estranging reappraisals of family settings with unlikely colours, invaded by green cats and flying fish. As the artist herself declares, “I believe there exists a contrast between the aspect of imagination – the animals are like cartoons or fantasies – and reality. Since we, as human beings, consider ourselves the main form of consciousness in nature, I chose to fill my images with animals in order to introduce this alternative consciousness into our experience.”
Skoglund’s images always start out from the construction of an extremely complex set, which the artist then photographs: a procedure which goes a long way to explaining the artist’s rarefied production and the peculiarity of her visual path: at the same time installative, sculptural and photographic. These are all elements that may be found in the Turin show, where several sculptures reference photographs and vice versa.
Among the many historical works that make up this exhibition, we might recall the twenty shots from the series True Fiction Two, produced between 1986 and 2005, which offers a lysergic interpretation of the American way of life, the spectacular compositions Fox Games (1989) and The Green House (1990), with their now iconic animals: red foxes and purple dogs. They are followed by the ballad of Shimmering Madness (1998), where the statues and the human figures share the same space in a crazy choreography, and the visionary picnic of Raining Popcorn (2001). We then come to the two most recent works, Fresh Hybrid (2008) and the previously unseen Winter (2018). These are the first two chapters of a series dedicated to the four seasons, among the most ambitious and daring works undertaken by the artist: reflections not only on art but on life, in the ever
more complex relationship between the human being and nature, between reality and artifice. As Sandy Skoglund writes, “to resist the snapshot, this photography moves at the speed of a glacier. Time will stand still for a moment, but only after a long period of accumulation and labor. Each fragment of Winter has been chosen to express the primal fear of human dependence on nature and on ourselves. We are not alone, and our situation is endlessly precarious.”
The exhibition – which will remain on display until 24 March 2019 and is held in collaboration with the Galleria Paci Contemporary in Brescia – is accompanied by a monographic volume published by Silvana Editoriale, also in this case the first of its kind, edited by Germano Celant, in which the entire career of the artist is reconstructed through the interweaving of her biography and her professional progress, documented by the reproduction of all her works, accompanied by critical notes and a wide-ranging bibliography.
Opening Image: The Green House, 1990, Fotografia a colori/Color photograph, 117.5 x 150.5 cm Collezione Cirillo/Cirillo collection, Brescia, Courtesy Paci contemporary gallery (Brescia – Porto Cervo, IT)