PRIMA DI ESSERE SCHIUMA SEREMO INDOMABILI ONDE
It’s easy to believe that chance, that most slippery and unpredictable of occurrences, happens entirely of its own accord. Mostly this is indeed the case, where no amount of planning and toiling would have made the slightest bit of difference to the outcome. But what if chance occurs not exclusively as a result of a mysterious and unfathomable aligning of the stars, but because of hard work, thorough research, and fastidious preparation? For Italian artist Giulia Marchi, the latter is true; a great deal of time, thought and effort goes into the creation of her images, long before the physical ‘making’ stage occurs. Yet, during this intensive preparation process, unexpected but fortuitous moments occur. Her latest body of work is a case in point. Poetically titled Prima di Essere Schiuma Saremo Indomabili Onde (Before Becoming Foam We Shall Be Indomitable Waves), the images in this series look effortless, as though they have been plucked from the elements – earth, air, water. But Marchi has spent months planning how each image will look, and nothing, in this sense, is left to chance. Hours if not days of research have gone into the creation of these images.
For Prima di Essere Schiuma Saremo Indomabili Onde, as is the case with much of Marchi’s work, the artist draws on literature, specifically writings by Julian Barnes, Gustave Flaubert, Herman Melville and Italian poet and translator Cesare Pavese. Marchi scoured texts such as Flaubert’s Parrot by Barnes, and Melville’s literary classic Moby Dick for choicest quotes, which she then combined to create new associations. Her aim was not to respond literally to the texts, but to use combinations of quotes as a springboard to create new imaginary worlds, which she then realised through photography. This is where chance paid a visit. Sometimes a pairing of quotes would leap out at Marchi, sparking an idea for an image, she says. And coincidentally, Marchi discovered that Pavese translated Moby Dick into Italian in 1932, unbeknownst to her when she turned to these writers for inspiration. Without the tireless reading and re-reading, the endless culling of quotes and re-aligning of them with others, these beautiful moments may not have come to pass. Chance here, is a result of consistent hard work – and a little serendipity too of course.
In this sense, it could be said that for Marchi creativity does not exist in a vacuum; her inspirations are the products of an affiliation to the literary creations of others. But to mention this is not to do down Marchi’s creativity; rather it is a nod to the skill with which she dexterously manoeuvres her chosen quotes to create new meanings, and from these, formulate her own unique and otherworldly visual creations. A voracious reader, and a former literature student, Marchi has long found inspiration in words. For her previous project, Multiforms, also published by Danilo Montanari Editore, the artist drew on autobiographical writings by Mark Rothko, and short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, among other writers, while for 17:17, in which Marchi collaborated with Italo-Palestinian artist Mustafa Sabbagh, she was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Disciple and numerous interrelated titles.
Words by GEMMA PADLEY
Giulia Marchi (born 1976 in Rimini, Italy) is represented by Matèria Gallery in Rome.
Image courtesy of the artist and MATERIA GALLERY in Rome.