Magazine article Artforum International

Elisa Sighicelli

Magazine article Artforum International

Elisa Sighicelli

Article excerpt

The Turin-born, London-based photographer Elisa Sighicelli looks for signs of the numinous in empty and desultory spaces. For her recent series "Santiago" (all works 2000), she visited Santiago de Compostela, the most important pilgrimage site in Spain, but pointedly ignored the more famous and crowded landmarks. Instead, she photographed apartments that are usually rented out to students, but which were then uninhabited. Through a meticulous orchestration of light, she dramatized these dowdy, limbolike spaces.

Sighicelli's photographs are almost all square in format and mounted on light boxes. However, most of the reverse side of each transparency is covered over, so that the backlighting is confined to specific zones. This works to haunting effect in Santiago: Table, where a round dining table, covered in two orangey-brown tablecloths, has been photographed from near floor level, so that it looms up before us, filling the top half of the picture. It stands in front of an open French window a predominantly gray room, cutting out most of the daylight. There is, however, a slight gap at the bottom of the tablecloth, just above the floor, where light floods in. As a result, the table appears to float on an orange pool, whose glow is intensified by backlighting. This interior luminosity transforms it into a mysterious object that almost looks more like a lampshade or a tent than a table.

Sighicelli seems to want to imbue this object with the sort of gravitas and metaphorical richness that Mario Merz gives his igloos. …

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