In the Project Room of CAMERA – Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, a personal exhibition by Irene Kung (Bern, 1958) opens on Thursday 30 May at 18h00, entitled Monumenti (Monuments). It was curated by the director of the Turin institute, Walter Guadagnini.
Starting from the juxtaposition of images from two previous photographic collections, Le città invisibili (Invisible cities) (2012) and Trees (2014), Kung makes a visual selection which leads to both an introspective and social consideration of landscape, whether it be urban, archaeological or natural. For the Swiss artist, these elements are the essential foundations of a view which, stripped of the visual disturbance caused by progress and human neglect, presents to the viewer solemn portraits emerging from the darkness. In the 18 large works exhibited, trees, ancient ruins and contemporary architecture take on a saving character. They become contemporary monuments that – thanks to the power of aesthetics and the intensity of the image – annul time and order chaos with their constructive harmony.
Trained as a painter, Kung has adopted photography as her preferred artistic medium for about a decade, using her training not just to add value to the lyrical and emotive dimensions of her artistic expression, but also to those of gesture and instinct. The essential nature of the framing and her ability to bring objects out of the darkness express a stylistic and conceptual similarity to Italian Renaissance paintings: her works highlight a rational desire to find new paths towards a sustainable future and places renewed attention on the balance between humanity and nature. At the same time, Kung’s compositions place the ambiguity of urbanisation and human neglect in contrast, allowing a subtle uneasiness to emerge from the beauty. “Describing suffering through a refined and dreamy representation”, says Kung, “is an attempt to create a new meaning starting from an emotional experience. It’s an abstraction that brings me out of the darker areas to a meditative dimension, reaching the unconscious spaces of the soul.”