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Indepth Arts News:

"Julia Ventura: Marked Printed Exposed"
2004-11-27 until 2005-02-20
Kroller-Muller Museum
Otterlo, , NL Netherlands

In partnership with the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves in Porto the Kroller-Muller Museum is showing work by the Portuguese artist Jślia Ventura (b.1952). For the first time both museums are mounting a comprehensive survey of her oeuvre as a complex whole. For most of her professional life as an artist, Jślia Ventura has divided her life between Amsterdam, Lisbon and her studio in Tomar. Since the beginning of the 1980s, she has been part of the Dutch and Portuguese art scenes alike, even though most of her exhibitions throughout the 1980s took place in Holland. In both countries, her work is recognized as making an important contribution to the discussion of the (photographic) image as a tool for exploring issues of representation and the Self. It is represented in important collections, private as well as institutional, but until now the public has been largely unaware of the full range, diversity and consistency of her work.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Jślia Ventura started to produce series of black and white photographs showing herself performing emotionally charged poses and gestures, never letting you forget, however, that all those powerful emotions were deliberately staged. The photographs play on both the spectator‚s demand for authenticity and photography‚s special characteristic of being an Ersatz for the real. In later works, Ventura increasingly emphasizes the photograph‚s independence from that which it is supposed to represent. More and more, she designs her pictures to serve as instruments for a critique of the photographic construction of the Self without ever completely giving up the idea of a certain ambiguity: even her use of photographs as a way of subverting the power of representation is shaped by a desire to arrive at a truthful image. In that sense her "Full Moon Photos", images of herself taken with the moon as the only light source, which are quite blurred and out-of-focus pictures, may be considered an effort to replace photographic representation by marks of light that, only in an ephemeral way, form a conventional image.

After the early-1990s, Ventura‚s interest in the mark, the trace, and its offer of authenticity, increases. She does not limit her work to the photographic medium any more, but starts to cover hundreds of sheets of paper with her fingerprints, using images of her profile for stamps to create patterns of potentially unlimited extension and use, and exposing drawing paper to the elements in order to have her „Nature Drawings‰ produced. Once again, however, the claim of authenticity has to be challenged as soon as it starts to exercise its temptation. The fingerprints are photographed, enlarged, and made once again into images, only this time their origin is difficult, if not impossible, to discern. Jślia Ventura‚s use of a variety of formats and media is not the exploitation of an abundance of possibilities, but the result of an evolution of artistic thinking.

Jślia Ventura (1952)
Geometrical Reconstructions and Figure with Roses #2
Cibachrome, plexiglas
Collectie: ABN AMRO Bank, Amsterdam

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