Nuova Galleria Morone, Milan
January – March 2016
Curator: Chiara Gatti
In the space of the project room the Nuova Galleria Morone is presenting the first solo Milanese exhibition of Sara Badr Schmidt, born in Stockholm in 1968 and resident in Paris. Curated by Chiara Gatti, the exhibition is the result of a sitespecific project that treats the eternal theme of the border between countries, understood as threshold, passage and osmotic membrane although often – and dramatically – sealed. Fourteen light boxes distilled in the darkness of the project room space open an equal number of windows on 14 different skies. Horizons of distant nations and geographies, differentiated by atmospheric conditions, climatic signals and different moments of the particular day passed through in the blue by subliminal messages, words and graphic writings that in a verse (and a cry) sum up the identity of a place or its story/history.
In more than ten years of research, the skies that Sara Badr Schmidt has photographed during her travels around the world employ a vocabulary that is essential but to the point in unison with voices that rivet a state of mind, an epochal episode. Suffice to think of the sky of Paris, immortalised in January 2015 only a few hours following the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo: from the sunset clouds there emerges the writing “témoin” (witness). Or else the sky of Beirut in February 2012 with its writing “sawa” (together), a lyrical allusion to the image of a city where to live “together” appears to be a utopia. The sky above Ground Zero in New York is a lagoon of dust and mist: in the mistiness one makes out the top of the Liberty Tower. The word “empty” is dense with meaning.
The dialogue between the individual skies, the sky as emblem of a mystical space and the precise word that ‘inhabits’ it like a universal movement, icon of a culture and a civilisation, betrays Sara’s personal vicissitudes and within this intimacy explains the origins of her work, the genesis of her thought. Born in Stockholm (her mother is Swedish and her father Lebanese), she ‘arrived’ in France periodically, in order to escape the Lebanese conflicts or to build a new experience, a new life. She has reflected upon the cohabitation between cultures and religions, on the unresolved problem of territorial belonging, on the political and social identity of places, on the possibility or the dream of an equilibrium and cohabitation between peoples, irrespective of violated borders. “Borderless” – in a sole word – synthesises this mirage.
Chiara Gatti, art critic and curator, January 2016
Artworks : printed photography on canvas, lightbox
Birds emerge like painting drops on the canvas of the sky, disappear then come back, drawing a figure as fleeting as the sky is permanent and unchanging. Counterpointed by Chagall’s painting at Opéra Garnier, which appears in fragments, sections of the sky, randomly revealed by fictitious lightning. One’s perception is the only thing that’s real.
The soundtrack is a tailor made composition by Jean-Daniel Consoloni. The piano notes echo the drops that the birds make appearing in the sky. Going along with the lighting of the Opéra Garnier, thunder sounds reminiscent of war, break the peace of the piano.
Video: 4 min – Soundtrack: Jean-Daniel Consoloni