WORDS ARE WAY TOO EASY TO PLAY WITH
Understanding the power and malleability of language in the spread and strengthening of dominant cultural forms can open the field to its reappropriation as an instrument of emancipation from the latter.
Nicole Gravier and Nora Turato have developed their research around communication systems—decoding paradigms, strategies, and references. Cultural, political, gendered, commonplace and linguistic codes are the subject of work that selects and reassembles, giving rise to practices of resistance and responsible and conscious liberation. Adopting tools such as decomposition, intensification of the frequency of images and words, manipulation of voice and the overwriting of languages, the works of Gravier and Turato explore different expressive fields and offer analysis and criticism of mediated or hyper-technologized societies.
In the series of photographic collages Photoromans: Mythes & Clichés, created in Milan between 1976 and 1980, Nicole Gravier focuses on the mechanisms of conditioning and demystification of the concepts of happiness, well-being, success and femininity. The artist disrupts the narrative structures of the photo novel, a genre of story-telling through images and a popular form of Italian cultural consumption in the seventies. She appropriates its aesthetic elements and studies its codes, replacing mainstream characters and actors, in a process in which forms and values are redefined. The irony and paradoxical nature of the situations is accentuated by the inclusion in the collages of bodies alien to the genre such as feminist magazines and political anthologies. The idiom of the photo novel, full of stereotypes, unadulterated and unrealistic, decomposed and penetrated by the artist, reveals apparent ambiguities: “From object I turn into subject, using manipulation and soliciting that subtle border between true and false, real and unreal, to compare and cancel them.” The result is a system of modular elements, re-appropriated in content and arrangement, in which the order of presentation of the photographs also changes according to the context in which they are exhibited.
Fragments of daily conversations, posts, TV series and digital culture are just some of the sources that feed the contemporary infosphere of Nora Turato. The power and use of language are at the center of her assiduous and relentless research. Her interventions are influenced by the processes and speed with which we consume data and information. The artist constantly selects portions which then make up a series of pools, a corpus of texts collected over the course of a whole year. “Every pool mirrors not only the cultural climate and the events around the world, but also with whom I interact and how I spend my time.” These devices are the basis of the artist’s practice aimed at forcing clichés and automatisms connected to our social and representation models. The video thanks, i hate it ( 2020) consists in a series of textual projections that echo the speed of Turato's speech—words are blasted onscreen at a frantic pace, summoning contemporary spirits and bringing recalcitrant elements into conjunction. Spoken and written language tend to merge, but each maintains and transmits some additional characteristic information. Also in has anyone tried unplugging it and plugging it back in? (pool # 3) (2019), the rhythms and modulations of voice intervene in the stylistic and semantic structures of languages, and accentuate the urgency of alternative modes of expression and representation. The exhibition, which borrows its title from a work by the artist, is accompanied by a series of posters that further highlight how much communication can be metabolized, elaborated and furthermore versatile.
Following the exhibition, Ordet will co-present a performance by Nora Turato at Galerie Gregor Staiger in Milan in early September on the occasion of the artist’s solo show with the gallery.
All photos: “Nicole Gravier and Nora Turato, Words Are Way Too Easy To Play With”, exhibition view, Ordet, Milan, 2020. Ph: Nicola Gnesi