Gabriel­la Mangano & Sil­vana Mangano
In the Still­ness of Shadows

3rd October – 19th December 2009
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks

The per­for­mance and video art of Gabriel­la Mangano and Sil­vana Mangano chal­lenges con­cep­tu­al draw­ing prac­tice using body ges­ture to draw in space. They utilise their rela­tion­ship as iden­ti­cal twins as an aes­thet­ic device, often per­form­ing dou­ble actions in unison.

Enti­tled In the still­ness of shad­ows’, their first solo exhi­bi­tion in Syd­ney draws togeth­er a group of video works con­ceived and pro­duced in El Bruc, Spain. For these works the land­scape becomes stu­dio; actions take place with the Can Ser­rat Moun­tains as a dra­mat­ic back­drop or film set.

Despite their descrip­tions as draw­ings, each of the works pre­sent­ed here utilis­es tech­niques spe­cif­ic to the medi­um of video. For exam­ple, footage is slowed, reversed, mir­rored, rotat­ed, or the use of the camera’s auto-focus shifts images from blurred to sharp. Video art began with the exper­i­men­ta­tion of mov­ing images that were not con­nect­ed to cin­e­ma, or a nar­ra­tive. It is from this point that the artists works begin.

Between Near and Far, a three-chan­nel panora­ma, sets the scene for this body of work. We observe the expanse of the land­scape in which they are sit­u­at­ed. The activ­i­ty, like all of their per­for­mances and actions, is sim­ple: the artists throw a clus­ter of shred­ded paper to one anoth­er as they move across the land­scape in front of the moun­tains. How­ev­er the slow­ing and rever­sal of time changes our per­cep­tion of this sim­ple activ­i­ty, mak­ing the action appear as if under water, the move­ments of arms and paper restrict­ed by some invis­i­ble force. The dou­bling of the fig­ure is also con­fus­ing; it looks as if our pro­tag­o­nist is throw­ing the paper to her­self. This effect is enhanced as the fig­ures move fur­ther away from the cam­era, or when the footage is actu­al­ly mirrored.

Rem­i­nis­cent of Francesca Woodman’s pho­to­graph­ic por­traits, End­less End is an exer­cise with back­ground and light. Like Woodman’s pho­tographs espe­cial­ly those por­traits of fig­ures pressed up against bare walls, where cloth­ing becomes wall­pa­per, or a shard of light cuts through a woman’s arm while at the same time appear­ing as if it is an object being held”, this work plays with the con­fu­sion of back­ground and fore­ground. As the cam­era tries to focus on the fig­ure, the back­ground and fore­ground are merged, how­ev­er move­ment is arrest­ed for moments of clar­i­ty where the scene is described in great detail.

Time Lapse, a three-chan­nel work, illus­trates the pro­tag­o­nists in places that mark their progress to the loca­tion in front of the Can Ser­rat moun­tain­scape. In Time Lapse I and Time Lapse III the protagonist/​s are observ­ing “ in nature, as in images asso­ci­at­ed with the Roman­tic Sub­lime.” In Time Lapse II we encounter a sort of dawdling, an activ­i­ty a child might engage in on the way to school. In these works time is stretched, as the artists attempt to por­tray the sense of their dai­ly jour­ney with three sim­ple sketches.

The Sur­round depicts the artists mov­ing slow­ly in an arid land­scape. The scene is time­less: in black and white, the artists wear­ing sim­ple cloth­ing and using plain chairs, free­ing the sit­u­a­tion and its land­scape from a spe­cif­ic place or era. With this same sense of free­dom, the use of chairs as body exten­sions enables the artists to move through the dry grass with­out inter­rup­tion. At the same time their move­ments are awk­ward, humourous, absurd.

Tania Doropou­los, 2009


Gabriel­la Mangano & Sil­vana Mangano

Between near and far, 2008
8 min­utes 25 seconds

Gabriel­la Mangano & Sil­vana Mangano

End­less End, 2009
sin­gle-chan­nel dig­i­tal video, 16:9, black & white, sound
8 min­utes 52 seconds

Gabriel­la Mangano & Sil­vana Mangano

The Sur­round, 2009
sin­gle-chan­nel dig­i­tal video, 16:9, black & white, sound
2 min­utes 5 seconds
Edi­tion of 5

Gabriel­la Mangano & Sil­vana Mangano

Time Lapse 1, Time Lapse 2, Time Lapse 3, 2009
three-chan­nel dig­i­tal video
Time Lapse 1: 1 hour 33 min­utes, Time Lapse 2: 2 hours 21 min­utes, Time Lapse 3: 1 hour 58 minutes
Edi­tion of 5