Bruna Esposito

The tale of those encounters able to change and shape our lives

By La Galleria Nazionale

Perle Rare (2004-2019) by Bruna EspositoLa Galleria Nazionale

The pure sphericity of a pearl – natural or cultured – like the luminosity that seems to emanate from within, is a rare, amazing, enchanting wonder. This is how the person I love or feel connected to seems to me. It is not a metaphor, it is just like that, and I don’t dare to say anything else about this phenomenon. Perhaps the only possible word to explain it is unspeakable, maybe obsolete or abused, perhaps unpronounceable: Love.

I am finishing this text in summer. Excessive heat is abnormal and we all know why. I write, and the Amazon is burning, there are fires in South Africa, the president of a state wants to buy another state, we are plagued by fake news and by aspiring neo-emperors who are also short-sighted... these are just some of the disturbing phenomena that unbalance our consciences and the planet itself; as I write about it, I wonder how a work like Perle Rare could ever be useful to our tormented world.

Thus, I swing between pushes to do and pushes to give up. After all, I am used to it. But it is also undeniable that these swings have a central hinge in common, a fulcrum, a core. I think about it and I realize that I can resist and survive swinging if the fulcrum, despite everything, remains belief. Believe in longing.

Bruna Esposito

Perle Rare (2004-2019) by Bruna EspositoLa Galleria Nazionale

Bruna Esposito
(Rome, 1960. She lives and works in Rome.)

When a foreign body enters the valves of some types of shells, the mollusk living there protects itself by covering it with successive layers of mother-of-pearl. The pearl is therefore a reaction to an unexpected encounter, a form of rejection of the other, which however takes the perfect shape of a sphere capable of seizing and reflecting light.

Perle Rare is the tale of those encounters able to change and shape our lives. It is made up of twenty-one photographic portraits of people dear to the artist, each of whom is reflected in a white and a black pearl.

Each diptych, printed on cotton paper, is kept in a wooden frame fitted with a hinge, so that the portrait it contains can be closed and kept, when it is not exposed. The use of cotton paper gives the image the effect of a watercolor.

The project, started in 2004 on the occasion of the fifth edition of the Gwanju Biennial A Grain of Dust. A Drop of Water, was completed in 2019: time and dedication are therefore to be considered an integral part of this work.

To achieve it, collaboration with the photographer Agostino Osio was necessary. Osio created a special lens to be able to take the portraits and supported the artist over the years. Furthermore, the project implied the many kilometers needed to reach the portrayed people, who were photographed in their own home and in a place of affection. Finally it relied on the confidence that the pearl itself would be able from time to time to capture the subject in its own space.

Faces and places are revealed out of focus, yet each has its own individuality and gives back the personality of the portrayed subject. There is no post-production work, the background on which the pearl stands out is an effect of the light refracted when the pearl is shot.

Perle Rare (2004-2019) by Bruna EspositoLa Galleria Nazionale

“The pearls are connected to each other by a mysterious thread. Like the pearls of a necklace, they rattle off one after the other. Left in bulk, they come without any design. Together, they become like rosary beads, symbols of a prayer addressed to the God of life. After all, if it is true that prayer stages the truth of an encounter, isn’t the ‘rare’ pearl the encounter that is created, thanks to the transfiguration of the light of friendship? Through an unpredictable, unwanted and rejected encounter, the silent beauty of loving each other in the joy of light is revealed”.

Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1999, the work of Bruna Esposito, which often involves the collaboration with artists, musicians, poets, was presented at the main international exhibitions thus soliciting a different view of the world through the use of simple and common materials.

Since her beginnings, the artist has been investigating forms of sustainability and attention to the environment. By putting friendship at the center of creativity, Perle Rare reminds us that we live in the world with others and in relation to others: it outlines friendship as a cure that, starting from the self, turns into politics.

Cecilia Canziani

Credits: Story

Bruna Esposito and Cecilia Canziani
Works cited:
Andrea dell’Asta Perle Rare, catalogo della mostra, Gallerie San Fedele, Milano 2 ottobre – 20 novembre 2019 p. 4
C. Zamboni, L’amicizia e l’amicizia politica in “Segni e Comprensione “ a. XXX n.s., n. 90, 2016

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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