Borders of Light and Water
C - Print Transparency on Glass, 199.5 x 493 inches
Palazzo Bembo, European Cultural Centre, Venice, Italy
Riva del Carbon, 30124 Venezia
April 23 through November 27, 2022
59th Biennale di Venezia, Italy
Interview by Art Spiel: Deanna Sirlin: Borders of Light and Water at Palazzo Bembo
A video by Marco Manzoni with AI reading Deanna's text about her work from Juliet Magazine
Borders of Light and Water
Deanna Sirlin’s installation Borders of Light and Water looks out on the Grand Canal from the windows of Palazzo Bembo. It evokes the Venetian word gibigiana, a term that names the flickering of light as it reflects off the water onto the bottom of a bridge. Even as Sirlin references this extraordinary perceptual experience that is only found in Venice, she simultaneously draws attention to the global crisis of climate change, whose impact in Venice is manifest in dangerously rising water levels. Sirlin’s installation is a geometric composition of reflected light that provokes a radical investigation of reality. The observer who engages with both the beauty of the environment and the threats to it through Sirlin’s dynamic compositions and intense color finds that their viewpoint has been transformed.
To locate her composition within the context of the site she is addressing with her transparencies, Sirlin creates these works in a multi-step process. The work begins with a painting that Sirlin then destroys and recomposes to create a new collage that manifests itself as a composition that anchors her conceptual space in longitude and latitude. In her creation of the collage, she recontextualizes the pieces of her painting. The cuts and tears that rupture the painted surface in this radical repurposing of Sirlin’s paintings is her reflection on and mediation of life in the 21st Century. Sirlin remixes these fragments to create a new work, which becomes a new artistic platform through the intervention of technology. Working in the digital mode, Sirlin layers these works with rectangles of saturated color to realize their stratified content.
These immersive installations make viewers part of the painting, both in the way they are embedded in the architecture and in the way light filters through the transparencies, casting intense saturations of color into the interior space. As the light travels through Sirlin’s work and into the gallery, it projects bands of color that move in the course of the day, tracking time. The work is fluid, with movement from the sun and reflection of time and season. Sirlin builds up layers of color over implicit compositional grids. In this aspect, her works refer to the experience of navigating built environments, represented in plan view. This is not a purely aesthetic concern, however. The layering of the works reflects the sedimented history of the site, while Sirlin’s transformation of the space through light, movement, and color seeks to heal the scars inflicted by contemporary life.
The observer is invited to engage with both the beauty of the environment and the threats to it through Sirlin’s dynamic compositions and intense color. Her use of transparency compels the outside world to become part of the work, calling attention to both the splendour of Venice and the rising water levels in the city, the fragility and beauty of the world and the effects of climate change, the most important global issue of this century.
Deanna Sirlin, Borders of Light and Water, 2022, C-Print Transparency on Glass, 199.5 x 493 inches, Palazzo Bembo, European Cultural Centre, Venice, Italy