Isabelle Giovacchini

Isabelle Giovacchini
Photos: Isabelle Giovacchini, Quid sit lumen, 2010, collection Frac Franche-Comté,© Isabelle Giovacchini

Quid sit lumen, 2010

4 black and white RC silver prints mounted on aluminum, 65 x 65 cm each

Work presented as part of the exhibition Echos d'une collection - Works by Frac Franche-Comté

Isabelle Giovacchini photographed a thereminist, Laurent Dailleau (1955-2013), performing his own composition. The theremin is an electronic musical instrument operating on the principle of radio waves. It was invented in 1920 by the Russian Lev Sergeyevich Termen, better known as Léon Theremin. It's played by moving your hands along two antennas, without touching them. One hand controls the intensity, the other the pitch of the note, while the rest of the body remains completely motionless.

Looking at this gesture, Isabelle Giovacchini thought of the make-up technique, which is the equivalent of Photoshop for silver photography. In turn, by moving her hands over the photograph during exposure under the enlarger, without touching it, she erased the entire image, except for the musician's hands.

The work borrows its title - literally "what of light" - from an opuscule published in 1476. In it, the Neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino points out a paradox: "How is it that nothing is more obscure than light, when yet there is nothing clearer, since it elucidates and makes all things clearly known?" (translation by Bertrand Scheffer, published by Allia, 1998).

Isabelle Giovacchini's work was created for the exhibition Membres Fantômes: variations sur un thème de Peter Szendy, at Galerie Xippas, Paris in 2010 (curated by François Quintin).

Isabelle Giovacchini

Born 1982 Nice

Lives and works in Nice and Paris

Isabelle Giovacchini comes from an early experience of drawing, and more specifically of copying, and is a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie d'Arles. She quickly adopted an experimental approach to her medium, preferring the laboratory aspect to the actual shooting.

Among his earliest works is a video montage of increasingly dark photocopies of a photograph of the iconography of the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, taken from a book by Georges Didi-Huberman. Augustine, Charcot's "hysterical" patient, disappears into the darkness and reappears in a loop where the image zooms in and out on her open mouth, like a black hole(Cri, 2005).

Isabelle Giovacchini plays with the impurity-ridden light of a piece of amber inserted in a slide projector(Ambre, 2006), or turns Nasa's high-definition photographs of the Moon's surface into negatives(Untouched, 2107).

Some works do not use photographic processes. Like About: blank (2010), pre-coated canvases are pricked with a pin at a rate of one hole per millimetre, aiming between the threads of the fabric. Seen from a distance, they appear untouched, then gradually become pale grey monochromes, finally revealing a blank surface up close. The title refers to the address of the white pages of web browsers. The subtitle, "Ostinato", refers to a musical compositional process that consists of tirelessly repeating the same rhythmic formula.

Since 2019, Isabelle Giovacchini has been running a long-term project around Lake Nemi, which Mussolini had emptied in order to find Caligula's galleys. The Fascist museum was burnt down in 1944, leaving almost nothing of the ships. Drawing on various archives, L'esprit des lieux evokes the memory of this site steeped in history. The research will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Centre photographique d'Île-de-France in 2024.

exposure time

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