Sarah Ciracì, lives in another world, her own. Never-ending desert landscapes, midnight sun, UFOs, dunes in tones of violet, spaceships and places in radioactive colours. They are artificial places little inhabited territories; perhaps visions of a possible future, perhaps imaginary scenes. Much loved sources are the books about UFOs and the classics of science fiction.
“My photographs do not really exist, they are metamorphoses of a condition of the mind”
She uses different media: digital photography, video, installation and sculpture.
Everyday techniques to reproduce or retake reality give body to: coloured dreams – private hallucinations – anticipatory visions – fears and desires.
At the end of the second millennium there were important transformations in art. A more human and subjective approach has made it such that autobiographical lacerations and private unrest have taken the place of the ideological, favouring the world of the feminine.
The last ten years have in fact seen a clear increase in women artists. Adding also the use of technological means which since the sixties up until the present has transformed the idea of the relationship between technology and art. From an initial use of technology as a specific physical instrument, the television monitors, cameras and telephones in the work of the sixties, in the seventies we passed to experimentation in black and white as a moment of reflection on the role of progress, up until the use of technology in communication during the rich decade of the eighties.
Today artists are from a generation grown up with everyday technology: with internet, TV, video clips and advertising. It is that which has been defined the ‘hypertrophy’ of the image which has brought us to the extreme discovery of the technology: virtuality.
Theses on virtuality, the maximum expression of technology, are discordant: on the one hand it meets an atavistic human need to dream and imagine, on the other its pretext to substitute reality seems to suggest a weakening in the human capacity to dream that which is not there; the push of progress is transformed into immobility. This is the fear which Jean Baudrillard makes us think of.
Sarah Cirac“ has perhaps found a way round it: if technological progress is taking possession of our reality, there is nothing else to do other than leave it and take refuge in another world.
Today Sarah lives with UFOs, with Marcel Duchamp – who according to her is an alien – with space shuttles and osmotic rooms.
“It seems that if we were able to work on our space-time perceptions and enlarge as such our codes of perception perhaps we could make visible spaceships and aliens. You therefore see them or imagine them?”
“I saw them in 1995 and documented the sighting with a piece of work. It has never particularly surprised me to see them appear on the horizon but I would never have imagined that they would have landed to talk to me about their planet. And only since then that I have a new horizon of perspective.”
So you believe in the existence of UFOs?
“Yes I do. Even though that which interests me is to see how much the perspective of their existence generates a new collective imagery. There is something mystical in the faith of the aliens. Fears and hopes are projected like in the Christian faith. The fear of divine punishment and the hope of eternal salvation.”
The deserts series was called by Sarah Cirac“: ‘Neanche rumori di fondo’ (not even background noise), because they are silent places, full of emptiness. They come about with a process which increasingly subtracts the physical elements from the spaces which she photographs, sometimes using prints from catalogues or books which she then modifies. It has never been important the relationship with the specific physical place, they refer to a geography of thought rather than a territory. They end up as metaphorical places in which to find personal points of reference, those co-ordinates that do not seem visible and despite the strong tendency towards the artificial, seek peace.
One hears books such as ‘The monster of atrocity’ by James Ballard, from which Sarah says she created ‘Cemento’. Stories in which places made of industrial materials have taken the upper hand, but subtracted from the tendency to technological feticism which one reads in Ballard.
“Probably the idea to modify landscapes is related to the city in which I grew up in. In Taranto there is a large steel industry and there I saw the most spectacular sunsets. The relationship of nature with man. The toxic gases in contact with the light create an indescribable tonality of colour, even if they are poisonous”.
You talked to me about the famous book by Philip K Dick: ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, on which Ridley Scott based his 1982 film ‘Blade Runner’. The book tells of the great ambition of humans to possess a domestic animal and seen the scarcity of classic house pets the decision to build electric sheep, hence the title of the book.
The limit between the artificial and the natural has always been part of the Western tradition and of the great themes of philosophical thought up until when the culture of our time accepted the impossibility of maintaining it. Nature has not been able to conserve an untouchable order and for Sarah Cirac“ this is significant of the prevarication of the artificial. Her landscapes are like alternative copies of reality, as if she were looking at the world through bionic eyes which transmute the natural colours into synthetic colours and elements of nature into artificial elements.
The atmospheres of her work have always had a certain taste for the apocalyptic, almost as if they were scenes of post nuclear destruction: what has remained after a millennium tragedy.
‘Questione di tempo’ is a piece made for the exhibition Campo 6 held at the Gallery of Modern Art in Turin. Two drills which dominate from underground undermine the pavement, one of the few pieces which holds in it a sense of unresolved unrest. In the other works it seems instead that, despite the scene, there is a certain serenity behind it and one perceives an atmosphere which is almost harmonious.
What will the future be like?
“Everyone will be rich. There will be no more hunger. The sky will be full of planes and extraterrestrial spaceships. The integration of aliens and earthlings will happen without too many dramas. Marriage will no longer exist, only love. The church will be persecuted by a universal committee because it will seek to obscure once again the truth: God is an alien and hell is better than heaven. I forsee a fanstastic world!”
Some inhabitant of the planet earth gifted with a heightened sensibility and far-sightedness has stolen models and types of forms. The earth finds itself as such in possession of little identified objects which lead an alternative realm of form.
This is the case for the Guggenheim in Bilbao by Frank O Gherey, the private house in Sardinia of Michelangel Antonioni by architect Dante Bini and the Sports centre in Pesaro by Yashuo Watanabe. It seems that this thing is not liked much in the other world that by rights has decided to steal the architecture to bring it back to their concept of the order of form.
The video of the kidnappings is composed of three brief episodes. After various deformations in the first episodes the Guggenheim flies away as if it were a spaceship, in the second a house is stolen which detaches itself rotating in the ground until it flies away. In the third episode, the most clear, the sports centre disappears.
The metaphor of the alien world is the realm of ideas (such as that theorised by Duchamp) a high and far away place from which shapes and thoughts have come and where they are nostalgic to return.
What do the aliens do with it?
“My next work effort will be to actually ‘imagine’ how they have arranged that architecture in their space and according to what logic”.
Sarah has transformed the Big Glass of Marcel Duchamp into a crop circle, mysterious designs, enormous and perfectly regular found in fields in many parts of the world, popularly attributed to UFOs.
Maybe the real extra terrestrial is the artist. “As far as I know the only extraterrestrial artist was Duchamp, who came to earth to bring us an art which was more evolved and capable of expanding our perceptual horizons.”
In an animation video she tells of a meeting of Duchamp with the aliens. “The artist sees a spaceship draw on earth strange signs: they are the symbols of the Grande Vetro, imagining as such that the work conceals an extraterrestrial messge. For this work I chose the photo of the ‘Grande Vetro’ taken by Man Ray.”
The use of science fiction scenes, that can be reconnected to a collective imagination is the metaphor used to talk about earthly problems. To bring everything to a higher level, the realm of ideas, rational order of things to try and give sense to the world, to liberate us from earthly ties, to give us meaning or to seek a mystic sense and a truth that perhaps do not exist.
Born in Grottaglie (Taranto) in 1972, lives and works in Milan. Took part in the experience of Via Fiuggi, a group of young artist with a common background who lived and worked together for a number of years and from which came out many of the Italian artists today protagonists on the scene.