Intimations is a new exhibition born from the idea of further investigating the work of the two artists, originally commissioned by Autograph in 2020 for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other in response to the effects of the pandemic.
Othello De'Souza-Hartley and Silvia Rosi are united by the masterful use of the photographic self-portrait, by the introspective investigation and by the performance, taken in a dimension of forced suspension, evoking, with their work, a strong sense of intimacy, solitude, isolation and uncertainty. De'Souza-Hartley and Rosi experienced the first London lockdown in March 2020 with a significantly different emotional state, reflected in the work on display.
De'Souza-Hartley suffered the sudden loss of his father due to complications related to the Covid-19 virus. The proposal he received from Autograph - and with him nine other artists - to create a work in response to the pandemic, turned into an opportunity to face mourning as well as the unlikely feat of "moving beyond the pain". In approaching his commission Blind, but I can See, the artist unhesitatingly confronts the absence of his father. The photographs taken reproduce stillness and silence. And then there is time: new, dilated, penetrable. The artist faces his mourning, yet lives it in forced isolation, allowing the long days at home and the tree he sees from his window every day, to acquire incredible strength symbolism. While the human species lives holed up and afraid of a virus, nature offers a longing for life, a meditative space. Through this realisation, the artist decides to focus his gaze on the tree that gave him a chance for transformation. Blind, but I can see - a video work in the series - reflects on how much, with increasing frequency, we become blind to what is in front of our eyes, taken up by our daily commitments.
Likewise, Silvia Rosi also faced lockdown, in her case in the isolation of her London apartment, where everyday gestures turned into measured, pondered, experienced and ritualised movements.
Rosi decided to wade through the anxiety of her confinement by setting a stage for her actions, and does so physically by building a cube / room in which to re-enter and re-imagine herself only when she feels ready to tackle and depict the themes and feelings identified during such an abnormal period. Her series Neither Could Exist Alone takes shape around and expands towards a reflection on the structures we build around us, believing they can protect us from suffering and, instead, isolate us: inevitably transforming human relationships.
Othello De’Souza-Hartley (born 1977, London) explores ideas around the human body as a site of embodiment, taking inspiration from classical paintings and art historical tableaux. His multi-faceted practice encompasses photography, film, performance, sound, drawing and painting.
Through an intimate – and ongoing – engagement with auto-portraiture, Othello De’Souza-Hartley often stages his own body in multiple settings, both private and public – from domestic interiors to vast industrial spaces. The result is a deeply personal, poetic mediation on notions of self and other, offering viewers different depictions of masculinity and vulnerability as visually performed ideas.
De’Souza-Hartley has been the recipient of numerous artistic commissions including from Camden Art Centre; The Photographers’ Gallery; Platform for Art and the National Portrait Gallery – his recent works have been exhibited at The Museum of Liverpool, UK; Shanghai Centre for Photography, China (2019); Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool and Gasworks, London.
You can follow the artist on Instagram and Twitter, and visit De'Souza-Hartley's website to see more of his work.
Inspired by West African studio photography, Silvia Rosi's (born 1992, Scandiano) practice explores her personal history through self-portraiture, drawing on her Togolese heritage and family traditions, especially matrilineality, and women’s labour.
In 2019, Silvia Rosi was the recipient of the Jerwood/Photoworks Award in which she was commissioned to develop Encounter, a fictional representation of Rosi’s family album. Using an image of her young mother as a market trader in Lomé (Togo) as the point of departure, Rosi retraced her parents’ journey of migration from Togo to Italy, playfully restaging portraits based on oral history testimonies. The series’ focal point is the act of head carrying, a skill traditionally passed on from mother to daughter, learned and performed by Rosi in an attempt to regain to her cultural roots partially lost through the process of migration. Rosi was an artist-in-residence at Thread in Senegal in 2019. In 2022 she was one of the three finalists for the Maxxi Bvlgari Prize Award. Her recent series was recently exhibited at Landskrona Festival, Sweden, Getxo Photo, Spain and Photo Oxford UK.
You can follow the artist on Instagram and see more work on her website.
Autograph's artist commissioning project responding to the wider contexts of the Covid-19 crisisRead and see more
Autograph's senior curator Renée Mussai speaks with Othello De'Souza-Hartley
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