MEMORY OF THE EYES
Sara Cucé, 2016 - ongoing
‘Memory of the eyes’ is an ongoing visual diary focused on the theme of home and belonging, the concept of migration in relation to identity and therefore of space, time and memory.
This project aims to represent the existential condition of the individual that migrates to a new territory, questioning where and who he belongs to. It draws inspiration from my personal experience of migrating from Sicily to United Kingdom about ten years ago.
Magali Duzant brilliantly described the series as follows:
“In her surreal black and white photographs, Sara Cucè explores the in-between spaces of migration in search of a visual form that describes what it feels like to be neither here nor there.
Cucè deftly uses double exposures to convey the ways in which migration can be a minefield, balancing the pull of nostalgia against the promise of the new. An Italian photographer based in London, Cucè has written about this battle of dualities, stating, “I wonder if they can live under the same roof, inside the same body, together. In flux.”
Formatted as a visual diary, the work is an evocative look at the poetics of belonging and the challenges of building a new identity on top of the foundation of the old. Each scene feels stitched together of both past and present, via light, shadow, footprints, and reflections. In layering, shifting, and enlarging parts of the image she manages to marry technique to concept. The photographs, rich with metaphor and curiosity, play with the construction of space as much as time […] it is almost as if our vision is confronting our memory, asking us to question what it means not only to see a space but to exist within it.”
Project introduction written by Curator Mosè Previti
The eye crosses the space, its presence is the presence of the self. The perceived space is not fixed, it does not simply stare, it is not a blank page: indeed, there is nothing objective in the look, it is completely at the mercy of the world.
The world, in turn, waits for providing us it's answers and being shaped by our conscience. A changeable and shifting image of reality takes shape in our eyes: the camera captures this rendezvous with the aesthetic awareness of art and the psychological imprint of our existence.
In accordance with these assumptions, Sara Cucè worked on her project “Memory of the Eyes”; an intimate and moving visual diary. The artist left her homeland, Sicily, and has been living in London for eight years.
Within her work, you can recognize streets and interiors of the British capital but they are seen through a powerful transfiguring lens. Each picture is accompanied by a caption. These captions cannot be considered as a simple illustrative element, but rather they are a complement to this autobiographical investigation which, when found in photography, is a perfect means of expression.
The highly contrasted black and white of these pictures is like a radiograph; where the transparency and the mishaps of reality are captured into a continuum between the artist’s soul and the world. This dynamic dialogue refuses to focus on a fixed sight. The blurred images are loaded with information, the spectator has to reflect and investigate on what they are looking at, while they search for the author’s meaning.
Certainly, identity is one of the main themes of this work. Nevertheless, this identity is not made of flags and nations:
Sara Cucè does not claim memories or roots from her homeland, instead she problematizes herself inside the urban space. The myriad of signs, writings, characters, lights, and places that she captured are full of an increasing pursuit of meaning. The knowledge in her sight conceptualizes and amplifies what is real. Her diary is the evidence of her overcoming the sense of isolation and loneliness, typical of our times. Here in black and white are two emotional categories, two polarities of a nomadic look, which are shaping their way across the extremes of a flux of conditions. Therefore, the artist magically finds these signs and characters, that seem to indicate what her path is worth, and her impressions are clear.
A black and white striped man looks at the spectator from what could be the platform of a station. We do not have any clues to understand where we are at this moment. On the other side, this character in his dress with make-up and a pair of gloves is absurd and inscrutable. The writing “FOUND” dominates on a building behind him. This picture is livened up by a striped reflection, reminding us of the pattern on the man’s dress. However, the spectator still cannot figure out the plausibility of this scene. It is an epiphany, an omen, an oracle. Sara Cucè adds these words in the caption “FOUND. Have you ever felt like this before?”. She questions herself and us about the meaning of being, a tautology comes out from this question, a perfect magic correspondence which quietly recedes somewhere else. The human presences are wrapped into the informative and relational space. There are no portraits, but deconstructed figures, profiles, and shadows. Although it is impossible to bring them into focus, they are still loaded with their decisive moment, within the oscillating and ultrasensitive imprint that captured them.
“What if…anything could be more meaningful?” is the title of the self-portrait of the artist and it may be also the manifesto of her poetics. Sara Cucè’s visual diary, indeed, is an autobiographical journey in soft tones developing through a multiple-presence slow rhythm. Furthermore, it is also the manifesto of the peculiar art of relating to everything, the art of being always prepared for each possible meaning of reality. The artist's life shines through her photography, which leads us to take again a new journey into the world that created it, into the changeable and never-ending memory of our eyes.