Aleksandra Mir

Making a Scene

By Eugenio Viola
artforum.com, New York, July 2008

Marzarama
Gipsoteca, Academia di Belle Arti, Naples
part of Making a Scene
20 May - 31 July 2008
Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples

According to stereotype, the act of “making a scene” is built into the very bedrock of Neapolitan culture; it is a native custom frequently celebrated in vernacular comedic plays, films, and literature, both ancient and modern. What is unusual about this exhibition is the short-circuit that occurs when an outside observer, curator Jörg Heiser, encounters this indigenous reality. He investigates said reality via a polysemous and intertextual reading that, thanks to his position as an “other,” restores a metaphorical, transversal understanding to the exhibition’s theme, transforming its semi-private dimensions into something public and theatrical; here the artist becomes a “special envoy of reality.” The performative is the subtle thread that runs through this carefully organized, rigorous exhibition. In his video Country Caraoke (Fare Una Scenata), 2008, postmodern singer Christoph Dettmeier performs his country-style ballads against a projection of Naples’s industrial landscape. Spatial-temporal dislocation is the theme of Marko Lulic’s disorienting stage Opening Speech, 2008, which was installed to host three inaugural addresses by art-world professionals during the exhibition’s opening. (An alienating sound installation continues to play at the site, while a video Pietà projected nearby is ironically hieratic.) In Lulic’s case, the performative element is enacted within the terms of post-media, an aesthetic strategy that is also adopted by Aleksandra Mir and Lisa Anne Auerbach, whose work Marzarama (Antinoo Di Mondragone), 2008, is split into two distinct elements. The first involved a performance in which the artists intervened upon sculptures from the plaster cast collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Naples, using marzipan to make prostheses of missing parts and limbs of recognizable masterpieces, an ironic response to the poetics of mutation, the hybrid, and the post-human. The second element was a video, in which the two artists animated still images of a cast of head portrait of Antinous, bringing the sculpture to life with marzipan eyes.