Paola Pivi has received international acclaim through her staged photographs showing animals in unlikely situations. Regardless of whether a donkey travelling on a boat, a leopard stealthily creeping between cappuccino cups, or zebras in the heart of a snow-clad landscape, the pictures are done in real situations and not with the aid of image processing software. Lengthy work processes are part and parcel of her performances, installations and photographs, which have to be prepared by a large team of co-workers and specialists. Often the results have a surreal feel to them, because objects or creatures from quite disparate realms are brought together. Broad vistas with poetic motifs produce mysterious, unreal worlds in which the singularity of the objects and individuals further heighten the expressiveness of the works.
But not only this singularity, an artificial serialism also plays an intrinsic part in her works. In a spatial installation for instance from 2001 she presented thousands of objects ranging from a tractor to a Barbie doll, each in two identical copies, such that precisely the iconical character of the objects became the subject of doubt. This serial aspect makes itself felt in her minimalist sculptures and wall pieces, too, which she has exhibited since 1999. For this Pivi uses industrially manufactured materials such as coloured binding tape or artificial pearls made of Perspex.
This untitled wall object from 2008 still allows an underlying square shape to be discerned, for all the thousands of Plexiglas beads that project from its surface like shoots from a burgeoning plant. Thanks to the lively materiality of the bendy rows of glittering beads, the underlying square form which repeats in various colours loses its concreteness and exactness to gain a softer, organic nature. This is further heightened by the light reflected on the surfaces of the individual beads, which triggers associations with dripping water and creates a delightful contrast to the artificiality of the material. While the reflections in the pastel sections underscore and set off the lightness of the colours, the reflections in the object’s black border seem full of contrast and mystery. By uniting contrasting aspects into a visual language, Paola Pivi also manages to give her wall objects a complex, baffling effect – which is the fundamental trait of her many-sided œuvre.
1971 born in Milan
Lives and works in Anchorage (AK)