I still remember when Beatrice Pediconi surprised us all by shifting the axis from a certain architectural form which was recognisable to a freer photographic expression, able to liberate itself from the grip of reality and create an indirect take on reality using water reflections, transparency and disappearances, concave and convex refractions that restored, at that time, a pleasant atmospheric ambiguity. The architectural backgrounds were first portrayed with a certain metaphysical participation. How can one forget one of the last works carried out on the outside of Giuseppe Terragni’s Casa del Fascio, that masterpiece which was created in Como between 1932 and 1936? These were then gradually left to rule and chance: the rule was the result of the artist’s focus on the dilution of chromatic ingredients in water, while chance was determined by the ink dissolved in those mirrors of water and sky that Beatrice used to experiment with on her terrace, when she still lived in Rome, to create floating, alienating veils, almost smoke-like effects and shadows. Since then – and we are talking about a decade ago – Pediconi has refined her work, involved in a search that today comes to terms with the aniconic: but from an unexpected, poetic, at times (in cut outs) geometrically compelling and convincing angle. The unprecedented, original expressive results are achieved by the artist through her faith in understanding as a field of, as yet unresolved, possibilities.
With her new solo exhibition at the Sara Zanin Gallery entitled Nude (curated by Cecilia Canziani and the third in a series), the artist presents us with a number of reflections, interlinked operations and linguistic visions which, by taking photography back to its internal (elementary) constituent data and moving away from the idea of the photographic message understood in a historical and conventional sense (as an image analogous to reality), further transform the medium employed. By definitively suppressing the idea of recording reality in order to open up the system to a novel visual adventure, Beatrice Pediconi highlights the polaroid’s specific qualities, not those of the instant camera, but rather of the self-developing film, putting forward a new working process defined by the artist as emulsion lift. This consists in detaching the photographic emulsion (the outer layer) by submerging the polaroid in a hot bath and reusing the emulsion (cutting out, stitching together, reapplying the film) on ultra-clean surfaces where suspended time is projected, sinusoidal forms happily flow and brilliant geometries reform – under the watchful eye of the artist who leaves nothing to chance.
With this new-found, original process, Beatrice Pediconi seems to start with the assumption of revealing a double memory: the memory of the photograph consumed and shredded (as a memory of a distant song) and the memory of water, all of which is subsequently deposited on a third memory store: the paper on which the images take new shape. ”Untitled”, explains the artist in a statement of artistic intent that can be read in the press release – all the works in the exhibition are untitled, except one, at the entrance, Diario di un tempo sospeso (Diary of Suspended Time), made up of 42 small cards created during quarantine, plus a 43rd that does not fit in, representing exit from lockdown – “acts as a witness to a process of which only an imprint remains, as testimony to a loss: a gesture reflecting on the absence of historical memory and personal detachment.
The work is thus the result of a migration with its minimal, volatile trace remaining blank, like the last and only witness to a story. Untitled then becomes the means of leaving a mark as proof of our existence.”
Existential ribbons, elegant geometric threads, intangible and sometimes shimmering veils, all silently map out this exciting new path designed by Pediconi (a true masterpiece, a real masterpiece) where not only does the artist cunningly outsmarts the photographic device by creating something new, but she also opens up a poetic space, resulting in an authentic discourse – an outstanding and significant linguistic adventure.
Beatrice Pediconi. Nude, curateded by Cecilia Canziani, Z2o Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome
images (all): Beatrice Pediconi, «Nude». Installation view, Z2o Sara Zanin Gallery, Roma 2021. Photo Giorgio Benni