Second Order Reality, a project by Carola Bonfili that develops through different forms of narration: a CGI video, an immersive VR environment and a series of sculptures. After a preview at La Capella in Barcelona, it is now on display at Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana from 18 January to 16 February 2024. It will then see further stages in collaboration with the other project partners, until the final destination of the work to the collection of MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts.
Combining different languages and references, from 19th century literature to Brutalist architecture, from comics to generative artificial intelligence, the work moves between the digital and physical dimensions, exploring the infinite possibilities of a story. In fact, the means of expression chosen by the artist influence the evolution of the story itself, fragmenting it and creating a continuous series of cross-references that open up new possibilities for imagination.
Promoted by Fondazione smART – polo per l’arte, and curated by Daniela Cotimbo and Ilaria Gianni, the project is realised thanks to the support of the Italian Council (11th edition, 2022), a programme for the international promotion of Italian contemporary art of the General Directorate for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry of Culture.
With Second Order Reality Carola Bonfili investigates the perceptual states that characterise the experience of navigating in virtual worlds and that are inherent in the “magical thinking” of children.
The ability to enter and exit from different subjectivities, the interest in liminal spaces and the crossing of gaps and temporal thresholds: elements organic to childhood that over time are pushed to the margins of experience.
Bonfili also recovers the fascination that these transitory states have exerted on literature from different eras, in authors such as Gustave Flaubert or H. G. Wells, recalling in particular the description of the repeated hallucinations experienced by Anthony Abbot in Flaubert’s The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Starting from these different suggestions, and from the results of a series of workshops held with children, Carola Bonfili develops, deconstructs and declines her plot, with the final aim of creating a video game.
The protagonist of the story is M’ling, a little monkey who suddenly sees certain parts of his body petrify and thus embarks on an initiatory journey in search of healing.
In The Stone Monkey (video) and in the VR installation Level 1, Illusions that we should have, but don’t, a concatenation of mysterious events moves the narrative dynamic by constantly shifting the point of adherence to reality. The sounds, created by Francesco D’Abbraccio, also assume a central role, as real ‘sound objects’ that amplify the perturbing character of the entire experience.
The sculptures that will be presented for the first time in the exhibition in Ljubljana take up some of the themes and imagery present in the story and translate them into physical elements.
If M’ling and Tanky Pear are concrete reproductions of the main characters and recall the action figures produced in gaming, The Stone Monkey’PBR consists of a series of spherical sculptures evolved from PBRs or physical renders, digital objects used in 3D modelling to display texture samples. Finally, The Multicrane retrieves the technique of Walt Disney’s early animations: a tribute to a craftsmanship that persists as a method in the artist’s approach to digital.
(from the press release)
Carola Bonfili. Second Order Reality, curated by Daniela Cotimbo and Ilaria Gianni
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 18.01 – 16.02.2024
Promoted by Fondazione smART – polo per l’arte, Rome | In partnership with: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana | MNAD – Museo Nazionale dell’Arte Digitale, Milano | Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Ginevra | SODA – School of Digital Arts (c/o Manchester Metropolitan University), Manchester | Hypermaremma, Maremma |The Green Parrot, Barcelona | La Capella, Barcelona. The project will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Nero Editions with texts by Daniela Cotimbo, Ilaria Gianni, Domenico Quaranta and Valentina Tanni.
images: (all) Carola Bonfili, «Second Order Reality», 2023, installation view, Aksioma, Ljubljana. Courtesy: Fondazione MAXXI, Rome. Photo credit: Domen Pal / Aksioma