Thinking about photography inevitably makes us wonder what is consider truthful. Fiction is not only part of art (and truth); it is perhaps the privileged space of art, in which it reveals itself as an autonomous entity, apart from what we commonly understand as “real life.” However, if art creates new possibilities, photography fights a very particular battle with its process of creation , because 99% of the time she (photography) is born out of an indexical relation with the real. This mediation, inherent to photography, refers us to the way language plagues photography – as the observer quickly subjects to language. Semiotics is exemplary in explaining to us how universal codes settle to create different layers of understanding. However, in photography, the observer is easily seduced by the hidden nature of iconicity, given the immediacy with which he identifies him/herself with the elements represented in the images.
This project draws inspiration from Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino’s novel that imagines the explorer Marco Polo describing the fantastical realms he visited to the emperor Kublai Khan. Calvino broke up Venice, transforming it into many fictional versions of the same city, creating something of a world. Using this book as a template, photographer Lana Mesić went in search of her own invisible city in the megalopolis of São Paulo. (via Vice)
The photographic construction of imagined stories is, therefore, a battle of its own, but also a way to address what unites photography and every other art form: their aesthetic qualities. Artists like Lana Mesić seem to be particularly interested in exploring this universe, picking universal symbols to tell stories that have a life of their own. It could be said they speak their own language, although we easily reference the codes in them. I often ask myself (an others) whether something that I’m creating, in the visual realm, as a linear translation in words and I hope the answer is always a very clear No. As happens with Dear Kublei Khan, what seems truthful about the project its not how the storytelling unfolds, but, instead, how I get a sense of “where” it’s coming from. What is the artwork’s sensible nature, I’d ask…