Annalisa Sonzogni

Identikit IV

by Roberta Valtorta

When a space is represented photographically, it is no longer just a representation but becomes a reality in itself. A reality which is autonomous, with well-defined limits, lights and internal relationships; this reality is arranged on a two-dimensional surface which has a form of its own, and where it remains static.

The scene is taken from a particular point of view, that one and not another one, and is contained in a very well defined frame, that one and not another one. When this photograph, the two-dimensional object representing a space, is installed within another space, the two spaces – the one represented and the "real" one - come in an intimate and visually powerful relationship that makes them suddenly necessary to one another, yet at the same time uncertain, oscillating and disorienting. They bind together, but one of them is a "virtual" space, it is "only" a photograph, while the other is a "real" space, it is "true." Magritte’s well-known expression “ceci n’est pas une pipe” manifests clearly before our eyes: "beware, this is not a real space, is a photograph", yet our perception creates with these two different spaces an equal relationship, as it appears. From 2010 Annalisa Sonzogni has been working to deepen this complex relationship between space and the representation of space using both photography and installation. In particular, it should be noted, the artist chooses the architectural space. She does so by genuinely identifying with the question, throwing herself body and soul in medias res. In 2010, with Passeggeri, she installed inside the Former Casa del Fascio in Como a set of photographs she made in the same place; again, in 2014, with Synopticon, she installed in the galleries of the Pinacoteca di Brera images she produced in the same venue. Identikit is a work in progress, which began in 2014 but whose method was announced in the earlier series Lilian Baylis School a year before.

In Identikit, she installed photographs of certain spaces within other spaces with which the former share similarities of shapes, colours, structures. In this way, the level of complexity increases and the relationship between the various visual elements becomes more ambiguous, in the etymological sense of the term, as it can be seen from various sides. In fact, the installation offers itself to the observer in two different ways: through direct fruition within the actual three-dimensional space which itself contains the two-dimensional images; and through the vision of the photographed installation. In the latter case, we have photographs that represent the "real" space within which the photographs themselves are also installed. Our thoughts turn in this case to the known sequence of photographs by Duane Michals Things are Queer, leading the viewer from a photographic space to an actual "space", and then again to a photographic space that yet looks like a "real" space, and back again in a potentially endless alienating path.

Annalisa Sonzogni prefers spaces which are complex, with many walls, windows, corners, with various sharp colours in neat contrast with each other; sometimes she even uses mirrors to create doublings, references and multiplication effects amongst structures, like in a kaleidoscope. Yet, these are not images and installations that produce a sense of chaos or a confusing overlap of visions and geometries. On the contrary, the artist aims at recreating plausible spaces, which are sharply articulated, yet well controlled and ordered, almost like paintings of the abstract period, or more precisely, of the constructivist one: spaces which are designed, just like architecture is. Her work is in fact decisively marked by the relationship between photography and architecture; it challenges the perspectival layout, yet it also respects it and redesigns it with determination and clarity. It creates a dialogue between different realities, both physical and virtual, on the basis of which new narratives can emerge, both visual and architectural. It should be noted that Sonzogni always chooses lived spaces, where you can see traces of history and human lives that have passed by: here and there fragments of individual and collective memories emerge from the environment, demonstrating that architecture is something alive; it is an organism within which the visitor-observer feels the weight of time and hears their own experience mysteriously fusing with that of the place.