In collaboration with the San Francisco Italian Institute of Culture (IIC), Kadist is pleased to present The Secret, a solo exhibition by Fiamma Montezemolo. The exhibition consists of two installations that straddle the interstices between art, anthropology, ethnography, the self, and the other. Guided by different senses, The Secret’s audience is invited to forge their own pathway through the installations to seek out meaning, replicating a journey from Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Ethnographer.”
One direction leads to cacti with sharp spines emerging from a large Kilim rug, resting on fragrant pieces of mulch filling the room. Through the construction of a physical space that appears welcoming but is substantially dangerous, The Three Ecologies represent three distinct spatial layers: the natural indicated by cactus and tree bark; the social designated by the rug as a traditional site of meeting and prayer; and the symbolic space of the art gallery, a site for questioning representation, activated by the presence of the viewer. The work’s title refers to the text of the same name by Felix Guattari on the fleeting coexistence of a social, environmental, and psychological ecologies.
The other direction takes us to Neon Afterwords, a physical journey to the interior of select fragments from Borges’ narrative. Enticing the eye with a cool blue glow, Montezemolo literally immerses the viewer in between excerpted words and sentences from the story. Illuminated in neon and suspended in the air, the scale of the text fragments has a dreamlike monumentality. Placed out of order and at various heights, the construction of one meaning is possible, but it is also multiple, contradictory and necessarily incomplete.
The artist, born in Italy but since 2002 relocated between Mexico and the United States, is immersed in research in and about another territory; here she is unable or unwilling to reveal the secret of her experiences, except by inviting us to enter into the same process of questioning she confronts as an artist and anthropologist. Ultimately it is Borges’ protagonist who reminds us “the secret is not as important as the paths that led [him] to it. Each person has to walk those paths himself."
This exhibition is co-curated by Marina Pugliese and is the third in The Secret is the third and final installment of Mapping the City, a project of the IIC with the goal of furthering exchanges between Italy and the Bay Area in the field of Visual Arts.