As I ascend the stairs of the Museo de Arte of the Banco de la República, a massive floor to ceiling glass panel greets me. It’s a beautiful design feature of the museum itself, currently transformed into a striking work of art. Photos of walking human beings have been impressed upon the huge glass panel at such an angle that they leave spectators feeling they are watching huge passersby walk over and above. The impact immediately transmits the message that this is an artist who likes to expand beyond the limitations of the official exhibition space both literally and figuratively. That artist is the Argentinian Graciela Sacco. An artist perhaps most known for her work with Heliography, an early photographic process whereby surfaces are rendered light-sensitive and thereby receptive to the photographic image. In this retrospective mixed media exhibition which includes video installation and sculpture, her images sprout on all kinds of objects: suitcases, spoons, planks of wood, venetian blinds.
The acclaimed photographer Sebastiao Salgado once elegantly described the photographer as one who draws with light. As an artist who works with photography, Sacco goes beyond mere drawing. She redirects, manipulates, and dances in a provocative play with both light and shadow. Her work as a result is, as one New York Times journalist eloquently described it, “as lyrical as a bird’s wing or as provocative as a clenched fist”. For while the works themselves are visually elegant, the content is often starkly political. Images of protesters in the throes of a political march appear on planks of wood, repressed human mouths appear on spoons and other objects, and glaring eyes turn the tables unexpectedly on our rampant voyeurism or point to the all seeing eye of Big Brother.
It’s not surprising then that Graciela Sacco came to maturity as an artist at the end of one of the most turbulent and repressive times in Argentinian history, the military dictatorship of the 1970s and early 80s, during which the repression, murder and exile of artists was such that a kind of artist’s silence descended on the country. Her work is an unabashed statement against this silence, where everyday objects pass over to a kind of surreal dimension, grabbing our attention with their incongruity as they are transformed from the ordinary into the extraordinary. She renders these objects complex metaphors which reveal their moral dimensions: suitcases imprinted with images of breasts eyes and lips point to the commercialization and fragmentation of body images in the mass media.
Sacco’s portfolio of exhibitions boasts events at home and abroad, including China, Italy and the States, and includes a number of biennials in countries such as Spain, Cuba, and Brazil. The exhibition at the Museo de Arte Banco de La República in Bogotá runs until October 5th. In the words of the exhibition’s curator Diana Wechsler “each image carries an infinite number of present moments which lay dormant until the spectator’s gaze awakens them”. Perhaps you’re willing to awaken your own personal moment with the work of Graciela Sacco.
Museo de Arte Banco de la República
Calle 11 No.4-41. Free admission.