Magazine article Artforum International

Ra Di Martino: Museion

Magazine article Artforum International

Ra Di Martino: Museion

Article excerpt

Ra di Martino's recent solo exhibition "Authentic News of Invisible Things" was fueled by the artist's investigation of the IVECO Defence Vehicles factory in Bolzano and her subsequent discovery of an archival photograph and film footage from London's Imperial War Museum: Both are black-and-white, taken in Lille, France, in 1918, the day after the end of World War I. In them, a group of civilians can be seen gazing at a German dummy tank (a wooden fake used to trick enemies) abandoned in the street. The pictured men and women appear to have conflicting responses to this object, as though it were both familiar and foreign, frightening and enticing. In the dummy tank's newfound context, it's intended use was rendered moot--transformed into something like a prop or an oversize toy, it became a lackluster relic of the changing political paradigm. The scene likely subverted any sense of reality in its viewers, altering their conceptions of truth and invention.

As it happens, the film documentation was probably staged: After witnessing the community's discovery of the dummy, it appears the filmmakers asked for a reenactment, based on the crowd's unnatural movements and address of the camera--the result is a fabricated reality. It seems what drew di Martino to these found images was a desire to plumb the tangled temporality of their layered confusions of fiction and authenticity. A similar line of inquiry has in the past led the artist to document the ruins of abandoned Hollywood film sets in Tunisia and Morocco ("No More Stars," 2010-13) and to depict individual universes charged with imaginative elements, as in the video shot at Hungarian architect Yona Friedman's studio in Paris (If You See the Object, the Object Sees You, 2010, also on display at Museion, as part of curator Pierre Bal-Blanc's exhibition "Soleil politique" (Political Sun), on view through January 11. …

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