an exhibition curated by Anna Cerniglia and Susanna Horvatovičova
May 7-22, 2010

Ben Russell, Black and White Trypps #2
Image courtesy of Ben Russell

Immersioni/Immersions, an exhibition curated by Anna Cerniglia and Susanna Horvatovičova, is the third installment of an international collaboration between an American and an Italian curator.  While working together in Italy, these two women developed a three-part series of presentations that revolved around the concept of total captivation and the invasion of the imagination into real space.  Showcasing films and site specific installations, their previous exhibitions, Progetto Immersioni: Flusso di Coscienza/Project Immersions: Flux of Consciousness, were held this past winter at La Porta Blu Gallery in Rome.  Immersioni/Immersions marks the first occurrence of their partnership on US soil and the last unveiling in their venture.

Featuring work by:

Elise Blue

Ben Russell

Rakele Tombini

Chiara Tommasi

Northdown Flat B1, a film by Italian artist Chiara Tommasi, shows an anonymous view of Shanghai from the window of a bathroom.  Day mingles with night in this seemingly cold room.  The naked body of Tommasi is waiting to be immersed in the bath. Water slows the rhythm of time and carries away the noise of the city.  The monotony of the image is suddenly broken and Tommasi gets up from bath, appearing awake.  The action of her immersion and subsequent emersion recalls the vision of a “rebirth”.  It recovers the awareness of something unexpected, an unrepeatable instant of life.

B-Series, an installation by American artist Elise Blue, is comprised of 5,000 small, suspended watercolors.  Blue’s goal is to represent 10,000 explosions, one image for each of the estimated 10,000 nuclear bombs in existence (minimum estimation).  The paintings are installed side by side overwhelming the space and the viewer with a self-imposed apocalyptic vision.  Blue examines the dangerous nature of the nuclear bomb, and, at the same time, she questions ephemeral existence.  Can we experience the sublime without risking the journey to an empty space?

The film Red Fish by Italian artist Rakele Tombini shows a unique meeting.  A red fish appears in the grate of the old countryside in the center of Rome.  We view Tombini walking in the sun and creeping into obscure corners of the city.  The red fish travels into underground labyrinths hidden away in the Roman canalization.  She is lost in the view of the fish and continues into the interstices, following a flux of conscienceness.  The reflexive image of Tombini in the water becomes a mirror of a surreal dimension.  It displays the charm of something natural that survives in a place without apparent life.   It is a hymn of our unconscious and of the beauty of life.

Hypnotic.  Alluring.  Sublime.  Chicago-based media artist Ben Russell, recipient of the 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, attains cinematic transcendence in this selection of works from his ongoing TRYPPS series.  Using 16mm black and white film, Russell employs a variety of styles and processes drawn from the traditions of American Avant-Garde cinema (including direct animation, contact printing, hand-processing, and found footage) in order to arrive at an experience invested in trance and transformation; capturing the materiality of celluloid with tactile and palpable imagery, his hallucinatory works transform simple shapes into powerful, mind-numbing forms.  Black and White Trypps Number One and Two creep into the subconscious through subtle arcs of rhythmic compositions, each film following a similar pattern of gradually accelerating movements into a fast-paced and occasionally violent conclusion.  In Black and White Trypps Number Four, this approach towards abstraction is complicated by a decidedly concrete comedy routine about class and race, as delivered by the ghost of Richard Pryor. Seen through the lens of these three films, Russell’s work straddles the threshold between pleasure and pain and staring into the void of a literal duality.  His aptly named TRYPPS series recalls a Freudian dreamscape laced with themes of anxiety, chaos and harmony; the result of which is a bodily infiltration which satisfies the psyche in a near-spiritual experience.

Johalla Projects

1561 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd floor

Chicago, IL 60622



opening reception: Friday, May 7, 2010, 7-11pm

gallery hours Monday – Friday 12-5pm

for more information, please contact: johallaprojects@gmail.com or anna.cerniglia@gmail.com


About johallaprojects

Johalla Projects was established in the fall of 2009 by Anna Cerniglia as a venue for emerging and mid-career artists. Located in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, Johalla Projects is a collective space collaborating with artists, writers, and curators. In addition to presenting exhibitions in its gallery space, Johalla works to organize and execute public art projects in neighborhoods across the city of Chicago. Every exhibition and project undergoes a thoughtful selection process, assuring that each show presented by Johalla Projects is comprised of the finest contemporary work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: