Based on research that I conducted while visiting Sardinia in August 2020, this body of work comprises photographs and journal entries made during my time there, as well as a series of sculptures derived from the little fish that gave the island its name.
Sardinia was originally inhabited by the Nuragic civilization from the 18th century BCE to Roman colonization in 238 BCE. The culture’s name derives from their most characteristic architectural construct, the Nuraghe, a type of tower-fortress which can still be seen in Sardinia’s rocky landscape to this day. The Nuragic civilization produced a wealth of arts, including figural statues and architectural models in bronze and stone, as well as geometrically incised ceramic vessels and lamps. Archeological fieldwork has also yielded half-man, half-bull figurines, assumed to be a part of Nuragic mythology. This symbolic union of man and beast remains a part of the contemporary Sardinian carnival, during which men don horned masks, assuming the virile strength of the bull.
I engaged with the landscape as a stage, roaming a Nuragic fortress and confronting and embracing the bull-headed mask as a sign of female empowerment, adventures documented by Silvia Piras and in journal pages that reveal themselves in photographic prints like the blue-toned pages of Maria Lai’s Ciò che non so (1984). Shedding my contemporary clothes, I was interested in entering into a more immediate and direct relationship with these ancient traces of a past civilization.
At each site that I stopped at, I took photos of the same vistas on both analog and digital cameras. Displayed as twinned series, the resulting pictures vary widely in color and exposure, the time dividing these photographic methods made material by chemical processing. While taken on the same day—perhaps minutes apart—I like to imagine that one set of photographs was taken in the 1960s and the other by a tourist from today.
In my travels, I also collected dry earth from the Sardinian hills. Back in my studio, I turned dust into clay, crushing, sifting, and mixing until it would mold to new shapes. I sculpted the clay into sardines—a fish once abundant along Sardinia’s coasts. Today, due to the pollution of the oceans, sardines are sought out for their minimal concentration of heavy metals, a quality due in large part to their low status in the aquatic food chain. Some fear that, as a result of overfishing, sardines may soon be extinct.
In silk-fiber and metal assemblages, these clay fish forms evade grasping tendrils of blue, which nonetheless frame them in the gridded shape of a net. Projecting from the wall, the metal armature enters the viewer’s space, as though hoping to catch up the onlooker in its arresting grasp.