Geert Goiris installed one of the most intimate and straightforward photographic exhibition, opened during Arte Fiera’s week in Bologna. Surrounded by the oldest area of city centre, Banca di Bologna Hall at Palazzo De’ Toschi has just set aside the first solo exhibition in Italy by the Belgian photographer and video-maker. His work has also been presented at Manifesta 5, San Sebastian, and by worldwide museums such as Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Wiels Contemporary Art Center, Brussels; Palais de Tokyo, Paris.
In Bologna, Terraforming fantasies is composed of concrete and haunted visual elements. The title, Terraforming Fantasies, is borrowed from the video installation in the show. ”Terraforming” is a recent coinage mostly used in speculations about the future of our species, and describes the possibility of chemically altering the atmosphere of other planets to make them resemble Earth and support human life. On the second floor hall, five hexagonal immersive environments (designed by architect Kris Kimpe) appear as modules where people can enter to enjoy the experience of a material setting, made up of sheltering walls and wooden structures, enhanced by a perimetral video installation and a slide projection (Prelap, 2018). Those architectural installations require the viewer to bridge the gap between her or his own body and the representation of other landscaped bodies made of clouds, grass, hills, forsaken architectures or pure Doom intervention fields. Ranging from the Antarctic to the Danakil Desert in Ethiopia.
The show reveals a narrative and imaginary configuration that envelopes, outside and inside, the viewer. The logic behind this presentation is positively in contrast to usual settings, in which viewers were kept separate from the work, placed in front of a story, told through moving and static images, is rather attuned to the work of an observer who establish a dialogue between photographic environments and video screenings, so as to turn the mental and the visual relationship into a perceivable experience. A selection of photographic prints in different formats, an analogue slide show, and a multichannel video installation, set among the modules, offer a physical interactivity that lead viewers to become aware of their own size and bulk, as part of the human crowd in front of the world.
This invitation to become aware of oneself, takes various forms in Goiri’s interventions: a construction of the space that is encumbered and obstructed from Mirror (2013) to 12 Minutes of Silence (2003), constricted and encapsulated, from Overgrown (2014) to Zverev (2014), or organized into a route or setting on a reduced and disproportionate scale, which imposes on the visitor a somewhat uncomfortable movement or view, from Blast #3 (2001) to Albino (2003). The limitation and modularity of the space represent a suggestion to absorb the story not just through the eyes, but with all the senses, so that the approach to the visual narration involves all aspects of the body, which have to do with biological, mental, psychological, environmental, historical and social phenomena. Whether his locations are far-flung or closer to home, Goiris makes them look uncannily suspended, as if they came from another planet. This is achieved though specific technical and stylistic choices: the artist primarily uses a large-format camera with special types of film: orthochromatic, aerial, infrared.
At Palazzo De’ Toschi, the irregular passage through the setting, conceived also by the photographer, becomes a stimulus to experience the displacement of our own corporeality in front of photography, in order to anticipate a possible empathy or identification with the subject of photographs and videos. The aim is to put the body at the centre and make it the multiple-purpose linchpin of a shift, if not a radical change, in our perspective, both personal and linguistic, on existence. Terraforming fantasies results not a homage to different landscapes, but rather than a celebration of beautiful, resounding absences. In Mammatus (2010) and Dead Bird (2008) Goiris aims at developing a system that promotes awareness of liminal counterpoints (daffodils again the storm, an awkward newspaper title), through a physical and material setting and by means of a discourse in images that connects inevitability and immanence.
The aim is establishing a relationship of empathy with a subject, and not an object, revealing the peculiarities and outward appearances, those of an active body –the Other- that is the centre of subjectivity, which can produce its own sounds and imaginary projections. A liaison especially evident when visitors are immersed into the fine-channel video installation, bestowing the title to the whole exhibition (Terraforming Fantasies, 2018). When spectators watch each of the videos inside the dark, hexagonal projection room, the relationship between the locations of the non-events narrated cinematically and the materials that form the architectural setting which they have entered, and are immersed in, becomes transparent. The choice of enhancing unknown territories, as human marvels that represent the possibility of a metamorphosis, is a way of questioning formal and conceptual, social and political convictions about our mother earth.
- Exhibition Title:
- Geert Goiris. Terraforming Fantasies
- Opening dates:
- From January 29 to February 24, 2019
- Curated by:
- Simone Menegoi and Barbara Meneghel
- Palazzo De’ Toschi
- Piazza Minghetti 4/D, Bologna, Italia