DISPLACEMENT

September 2012

GIADA RIPA

DISPLACEMENT

Giada Ripa’s latest work has focused on the analysis of space as a means for exploring personal identity. In addition to her documentary approach to photography, Ripa has developed, as an artist, a body of work characterized by introspection and experimentation, often using landscapes and energy production sites as inspiration and as a backdrop for her performances.

Accompanied through her research by geographer’s, anthropologists and explorer’s writings, suggesting the metaphor of landscape seen as a theatre in which a human being undergoes, through time, perception and reflection, the awareness of being both the spectator as well as the actor in nature in constant cultural, ecological and geopolitical movement that keeps on reflecting our society.

During her travels through the former Soviet Union satellites countries, her explorations through the Caucasus and Central Asia, from Georgia to Turkestan, a pressing need for a more personalized way of expression slowly emerged.

Falling Icons, the artist’s latest series after Lost in Space, Dead in Turkestan and Moonscapes, is a poetic narration of “the art of falling”, in which a contemporary woman obsessively confronts herself with foreign and distant places loaded with symbolic stratifications and cultural, historical and geopolitical implications. In these images space takes over the human figure transforming it into a mere pawn swept up in the processes of transformation of these territories. In her photographs Giada appears as a woman in transit, a wandering figure, an anonymous presence in places that are in transition and still searching for a specific identity.

The ambiguity of the uncertainty of a final fall or of a sudden swing of the hip to return to the upright position makes these Falling Icons images in the making, in constant movement in the mind of the observer who can at any moment become judge and creator of the destiny of that woman and of her environment.
What is the quality of the gravity that pulls women to the ground in Giada Ripa’s photographs? Perhaps it’s the same wind that is the source of energy used by the machines?  Is it exhaustion at having traveled so far from home, or a communion with the energy, the soil, the sand, and the snow?

Ripa’s images defy stereotyped notions of the landscape as a comforting commodity, which we often travel to. These locations are craggy, inhospitable places, sometimes burnt or frozen, in which both past and future feel challenging. They are situated at all points on the continuum between developed and untouched, inhabited and abandoned.

These territories appear not as exoticized sites, but as harsh environments in which the forces of industry and capitalism clash with those of climate, history, culture and religion.

Ripa’s staged performances could lead us to ask how these conditions might affect the women who live there.


DISPLACEMENT

Displacement, the series that provides the title for the whole exhibition (the exclusive preview was held at the MMoMA in Moscow in December 2011- January 2012), is a photographic project that began back in 2005. In 2012, Moleskine dedicated the first photographic book to it, and this book will be presented for the first time in Italy during the exhibition.

A poetic and highly introspective anthem to the art of falling in which the human figure is portrayed in a moment of extreme fragility when the structure of the outside world collapse and identity appears unbalanced.

The protagonist of these works is a young and contemporary woman obsessively confronting herself with unknown lands (foreign and distant places loaded with symbolic stratifications and cultural, historical and geopolitical implications) where industrial culture and capitalism clash with the harshness of the environment, the climate, history, culture and religion.

“The project Displacement began in Xinjiang, China, more than eight years ago, while I was investigating displaced minorities along the former Silk Road, the centuries-old link between the Middle East and Asia, now known as the Oil Route. Researching the accounts and origins of the people slowly led me to reflect on my own personal identity while confronting the force of the landscapes I encountered.”…”. Giada Ripa

The artist has developed a series of photos where the geographical and cultural distance of lands linked primarily with energy production (oil, gas, geothermal and renewable sources) provides the background, the essential framework sustaining the conceptual meaning of the works. Her personal search is often accompanied/inspired by the texts of geographers, anthropologists and researchers like the tales of the great explorers on the Silk Road by Peter Hopkirk - “The Great Game”, “The Foreign Devils on the Silk Road”.

This first exhibition in Italy and the new works from Iconema series ( a term coined by the anthropologist Eugenio Turri, suggesting an idea that the landscape can be interpreted metaphorically as the «theatre» of human activities, the scenario where man is both actor and spectator at the same time – transforming and exploiting territories at the same time) mark the artist's return to her origins; the urge to work in her homeland territory, in the spirit of a “European Grand Tour”, after a long journey through distant lands.