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Curated by Alessandro Trabucco

Art does not reproduce the visible,
rather it makes visible.
Paul Klee, Creative Confession, 1920


Written by the great Swiss artist Paul Klee, one of the most prominent figures in the most revolutionary decade of the 20th Century, this meaningful statement is taken from Creative Confession, a short essay published almost a century ago, and is emblematic of a historical period of extraordinary and unrepeatable creative ferment. These few years were characterised by enormous upheavals in all fields of human creativity, from painting to musical research (consider, for example, the astounding effect that Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ had on the audiences at its first performance in 1913, or the innovative theories of Schonberg’s dodecaphony, just a few years later) and the  precocious language innovations involving a basically still young artistic field such as that of photography and put into practice by bold experimenters including Man Ray, Christian Schad and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy.
This timeless phrase applies perfectly and especially to photography which, ever since its birth in around the mid 19th Century, has always been accused of being too closely identified with a servile duplication of reality.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, however, this prejudice was repudiated by the innovative capacity of the abovementioned artists (who cannot strictly be defined as pure photographers), and subsequently, in the last twenty years of the same century, with the technological development of digital photography, by which such accusations were once and for all rendered groundless.
When we look at a photograph now, it is no longer necessarily true that what we are seeing actually exists or has existed in reality or another time. In other words, photography no longer fulfils the task of objectively documenting a place or an event.
Photographic composition, in which it is possible, nevertheless, to recognise a cross-section of outer reality and not merely the shadow or brilliant silhouette of a real object directly fixed by the artist onto emulsified paper in the darkroom (e.g. Man Ray’s rayograms, a technique that bypassed the stage of shooting the image onto light-sensitive film), is visually independent from that which it expresses. In other words, it “does not reproduce the visible, but it makes visible” an image that previously only existed in the mind of its creator.
And this is precisely what happens with the Aqua Aura images – icy landscapes, white deserts, desolate lands deprived of any living thing (human, animal or vegetable) or, in some cases, characterised by merely metaphorical  presences (represented by an object or a remnant of manual activity), animated by an existence of their own, a ‘real’ inner life of their own. This presence in the world, however, is the fruit of an invention of the mind, an actual manipulation that first takes place in the unfathomable realm of the human imagination and is then ‘physically’ elaborated in the electronic virtuality of the digital artificial world.
The images, therefore, originate from a series of suggestions provoked by external reality, the actual procedure followed by Aqua Aura and, initially, the established procedure of landscape photography, which searches the globe far and wide in pursuit of a personal interpretation of the natural spectacle before our eyes, realising an indefinite (i.e. unquantifiable) number of shots. In the work of Aqua Aura these shots subsequently undergo considerable changes; a careful selection of the images leads to the creation of real visual hybrids, individual representations assembled on the computer and composed of parts taken from different shots to form a brand new and, above all, inexistent reality.
This is exactly what Paul Klee affirms: to “make it visible” that which previously did “not exist” and that now can finally take shape thanks to the demiurgical power of the artist, who infuses vital energy into a new ‘creature’ by igniting its own inner creative spark.
The exhibition, which covers two floors of the gallery (ground and basement), is arranged in a sequence designed to accompany the visitor in the discovery of the evocative landscapes created by Aqua Aura, following an itinerary that reveals one by one the characteristic features of  each image, and especially the overall atmospheres evoked by them.
The sensation of the sublime, which inspires the vision of the glacial environments with their stark contrasts of brilliant white and pitch black, and the vapours that recall distant places in space and time, natural events that charm the gaze of the viewer and lead it into silent, still, romantic visions.
The attention is then further captivated by the presence of a modular display element that is apparently unrelated to the context, which introduces, especially with regard to the works exhibited on the basement floor, a destabilising and alternative aspect in an exclusively static and contemplative vision.
Aqua Aura uses this special object to create a ‘voyeuristic’ setting, compelling the viewer to come into closer contact with the individual images by hanging in front of them a sparkling red string curtain that prevents an easy and full view - a concealing action which has the precise purpose of establishing a sort of visual intimacy, a close, personal encounter, with the viewer.
The dreamlike aspect that characterises these photographs is a clear, tangible sign of the formal genesis that takes place mentally; to landscapes with a romantic atmosphere the artist adds architectural elements or alienating presences that considerably increase the effect of visual disorientation.

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