On show atthe Museum of Orsay in Paris is work by Etienne-Jules Marey, known for his photographs of human and animal locomotion and which, indeed, have changed a few important chapters of modern art history. Between 1899 and 1901 the ever resourceful Marey built machinery - never seen before - with as many as fifty-seven miniature spouts, that would help him record the movement of air and smoke. His plates show not just the flow of fluids, but also the forms of impeded flow in crisp, almost sculptural texture.
Caroline Luigi's photographs, if looked at with any care, will reveal that she records what is already there in the recording mechanisms themselves. Setting up a candle - a lumen, the unit of measurement of luminosity - in front of a mirror or a lens, does little besides re-directing the light catching medium, the tool with its interior dark, its reflecting surfaces, possibly its lenses too, into the stream of feedback. The identical process of self-reflection or re-collection applies to Caroline Luigi's use of objects, i.e., hands, scars, statuettes or scissors. Bright-shining, attractive, sharp-looking, but also piercing and threatening, are the tangible props that trigger the imperceptible ripples, the minute interferences in the return flow to the all-devouring retina inside a black chamber. There are two images that might well function as emblems to this particular gathering of Caroline Luigi's work. The burned-out matchstick held by a hand, a mirror to one side, positioned in the space between two cameras, one visible, one invisible; and the knife, in a slicing mode, behind an upright, naked and wayward lens. This last is simply a more primitive rendering, of any crystalline lens and its shutter that controls the flow of light but which the human hand re-directs back into the enolved, light grabbing machine (and even into our own corporeal, the crystalline lenses of our eyes!). The snuffed matchstick, on the other hand, the mirror standing like a fence to one side, suffices to situate Caroline Luigi in the tradition of Georges de La Tour and all the other tenebrists who never tire of placing bright - burning, that is - sources mid-air between amazed, wide-open irises and semi-translucent hands. Mention ought to be made in La Tour's case, that he was the same artist who pained stunned, elderly street musicians, and also scenes showing the dressing of wounds of St. Sebastian's body, cuts and stabs which were inflicted by the arrows of his executioners.
One hundred years ago, Etienne-Jules Marey made the air, this common yet necessary commodity, visible. Caroline Luigi, more recently, by extinguishing a match, and by hand-picking her deadly lures (Isidore of Seville, incidentally, traces the meaning of the word amor to amus, latin for fish-hook) has made light, that is so utterly common, and so easily taken for granted, dangerously visible.
Works > In progress /2012
> Stricto Sensu [anodin] /2004 >>
Galerie ArtForum, Thessalonique
Text by Stavros Deligiorgis