2006 – 2008 Milano Cadorna 8.53
Our Daily Train
Two women, two artists with different background and experiences, Marina De Meo and Chiara Pellegrini, take for different reasons a daily train return trip. Marina is a long-way commuter and a few days a week has to go from Milan to Venice, while Chiara travels every day from the center of Milan to a town in the suburbs. This kind of travel experience is different from the occasional trip, since the theme becomes repetition, landscapes and places become familiar and, especially in short-distance commuting, you often meet the same people. So you soon lose the element of novelty, of surprise for something new.
Marina De Meo was always attracted by psychological and social dynamics of the travel experience: a few years ago she presented a series of interesting photos taken on a long-distance train that travels across Italy from North to South. She wrote: “[…] travelling by train is a sort of ‘genre’, a world of its own, closed in its uncertainness between departure and arrival. Marina De Meo filmed this trip – that for most of the passengers is not a pleasure trip on the Orient Express – with discretion and a small digital video camera. The dim lighting exalts the contrasts, the chromatic elements, composing melancholic and modern frames of an ancient story.”
Keeping and consolidating this narrative and almost cinematographic style, and focusing more on the “visual uncertainty”, Marina tells what she sees during her trip Milan-Venice and, helped by the repetitive aspect of this experience, takes time to think about herself, with a modest autobiographical look. The commuter trip, always identical and always different, makes her “dwell longer on things to see deeper inside and outside herself”, as Marina says introducing her project. A piece of work literally extending over two strips of photos, one next to the other as a vibrant cinematographic sequence and culminating in the more complex form of a short video, where the essential captions and a well-chosen music background catch the viewer emotionally.
The two artists have in common the theme of their work but also the style and methods they choose. Chiara Pellegrini, to represent part of his work chooses, in a revisited and modern way, of course, an ancient device: the zoetrope, a sort of protocinematographic experiment. Through the slits of the cylinder you can see pictures “moving”, just like watching from a train window.
Chiara presents four boards with four pictures each. She calls them “Transparencies”, as if she wanted to underline the uncertainness of the vision. They portrait details of train stations, platform roofs, train sides, railways, landscapes from train windows often stained by the dust left by rain and sometimes populated by people passing by like shadows. And finally, as if she wanted to conclude her work with more definitive images, Chiara presents many small pictures of train details on a cardboard next to a reflecting surface of the same size: the details and its reflection are next to each other but with different viewing angles and everything become double, ambiguous.
For both Marina and Chiara the experience of the repetitious trip reaches a dual meaning: the observation becomes deeper and the ambivalence of reality becomes visible. The more you observe the world, the more complex the vision becomes: something more similar to the relativistic theories during times where you are led to think that everything and every idea is clear and definitive.
Milano Cadorna 8.53 is the train I take every day to go to work. I’m an unusual commuter, from the center of the city to the suburbs.
My travelling requires a certain amount of time, defines schedules, follows a precise path, in a constant movement.
The element of repetition translates into formal will and transfer the meaning of travelling in another dimension, more linked to the imaginary.
“Never get tired of looking is tiring.
The city flows under my eyes: I get through it from South to North. It looks motionless. Fixed as my gaze. Flattened by the pale sun of a summer morning.
Far from traffic I run on railways through the heart of the city… the internal courtyards of houses of which I don’t know the façade displayed on big roads.
Yet the cherries of Bruzzano station felt on the ground, the Bovisa excavators went on working, far from my eyes, destroying, brick after brick, the old plants.
Often slow changes are not noticeable, like a mother that always sees his son as a child
and then, abruptly, things seem to be born, to grow up and die overnight, like forest fruits far from the sun.”
Often things gain value noticing something they are missing.
I dedicate this work to people I meet casually and people I meet regularly.
To what remains invisible.
Anno di esecuzione: 2004/200…