Working in video, drawing, sculpture, and photography, Runo Lagomarsino explores how today’s political and social environments have developed through different discourses and historical processes, producing representations and metaphors from which history has been constructed and deconstructed. He also examines the relationship between the global North and the global South, one that continuously revisits colonial hegemony, questioning and rethinking how society continues to affect its colonial subjects.
His slide loop presentation Following the Light of the Sun, I Only Discovered the Ground (2012–2014) revisits an ambitious but disconcerting monument by the controversial Georgian–Russian artist, Zurab Tsereteli. In 1992, to celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World, Tsereteli attempted to install his statue Birth of the New World in the United States, but the statue was repeatedly rejected by the United States government and other US institutions. For more than twenty years, the statue was moved from place to place until it was finally accepted in Puerto Rico, where it will be installed in 2016. Interspersing the Russian anthem with black-and white images of the monument’s pathetic unassembled parts, Lagomarsino reminds us of an old totalitarian monument from the Cold War period: an unbearable case of history misread and misled.
Colonial heritage in the context of contemporary Latin America often motivates Lagomarsino’s work, which deals with conflict and violence as a constitutive colonial border. Many of Lagomarsino’s images, texts quoted in his drawings, or performances documented in his work present not only poetic interruptions but also serene actions. In the past several years, he has produced a series of drawings made by sunlight. In 4 date drawings (2011), four papers with dates bleached out by the sun hang like flags in a metal structure. These are the dates of the departure and arrival of Christopher Columbus in his first two journeys to the American continent reminding us of the link between time and travel, and designating the Atlantic as a geopolitical space. In La Muralla Azul (2014), five abstract blue drawings are made by exposing light-sensitive paper to sunlight, then later being soaked in the Mediterranean sea, to recall the sea’s awe-inspiring, undulating surface. Lagomarsino hangs these drawings on the tower icon symbolizing the city of Naples. Though the encounter between the sun-paper drawings and the mark of Naples may look abstract, it refigures this region as a contemporary political space, with the city of Naples’ guard line evoking scenes of precarious migration and stowing away to Europe. Here, the sun is only understood through the marks left on the paper. The shaded parts of the paper, which remain white, suggest the future, one that the artist addresses and imagines, and on which he intervenes. These drawings resonate with stories of unseen conflict and political complication contained within a peaceful landscape.