FRIGIDO, Life of an Archive.
Project by Alice Pedroletti curated by Cristina Baldacci.
Frigido is a project developed with different media: archives, technical machines, wall projections, lights, audio installation. This video explains the making and art process.
iPad video, 3’49”
Directed by Alice Pedroletti
Shooting: Sara Fileti
Editing: Federica Antonelli
Assistant: Luca Fontana
Text by Cristina Baldacci.
There is something uncanny in Frigido which does not only concern the sense of cold, detachment, and indifference as evoked by the title. It is the emergence of that fear which is renewed every time we find ourselves to be involuntary and helpless witnesses of the destruction, of the diaspora, of the totalitarian control of an archive, and with it the cancellation, partial or total, of the memory. The “archive fever” which echoes in the personal damnatio memoriae operated by Alice Pedroletti is nevertheless only temporary, since the act of destruction does not mark an end, but a rebirth. Consciously and systematically, the artist-photographer frees herself of the images that she has produced and preserved over the years by immersing them in liquid nitrogen molds, which, together with helium, is one of the most effective refrigerants. The extremely low temperatures at which the negatives are exposed – nearly two hundred degrees below zero – produce a stiffening of the material, which, once extracted from the nitrogen, becomes particularly crumbly or friable (the strategic use of cold, here carried to the extreme, is also a reversal of its usual employment in the preservation of film and photographic prints). With the complicity of the case, Alice proceeds to chip manually at the negatives removing any possibility of reproduction of the image, almost every trace of figuration and above all, the tangible proof of part of her experiences and her old photographic work.
In addition to having a cathartic value, this decisive and radical action shifts the focus from the image to its support, from the scope of vision to that of the material. The artist does not produce new images, but object fragments of various dimensions and colours, that, although, in some cases, may even create the illusion to postpone a “lost” reality to a faded or broken memory – especially when in the fragments isolated figurative details distinguish themselves –, take on a brand new meaning as evidence of the artistic process. To these microscopic objects, Alice relies on the task of handing down another memory: no longer the shadow of people, places, and past experiences, but the concrete sign of her daily work, an approach that from photographic becomes almost sculptural. The freezing and breaking of the negatives are accompanied by a scrupulous analysis. Halfway between scientist and amateur chemist, Alice experiments and takes notes, recording even the smallest change and discovery. She then proceeds cataloguing fragments, which follow neither a chronological order (given by different phases of her work) or conceptual, but uniquely formal. All the pieces, with a few rare exceptions, including those specks that, even if not classified, certify the metamorphosis of the material, are meticulously arranged. One at a time or in small sets, they are divided into packets, frameworks, and frames depending on the size, from a maximum of three centimetres to a minimum of one or half a centimetre. In this manner, the artist, on the traces of her first archive, progressively builds a second, while also renewing her way of working. Frigido. Life of An Archive is the story, open and evolving, of this unique procedure, of this obsessive drive to the preservation of everything that belongs to the self, even when the driving force appears to be a desire to move away from what it used to be. It is also a revelation of how even the smallest fragment if watched carefully, as if through a microscope, or projected and enlarged on a wall, may give rise to unexpected visions, suggestions, and connections.