MAGNIFICA: Goldschmied & Chiari
September 1 – December 11, 2021
Magnifica debuted new work by the Italian female artists Goldschmied & Chiari on September 2 and was on view through December 11, 2021. Magnifica was curated by Allison Nance and organized by International Arts & Artists in partnership with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, DC.
“When I first encountered the work of Goldschmied & Chiari, I felt immediately drawn into their mysterious and provocative pieces, and found their dynamic as an artistic duo fascinating and inspiring,” said curator Allison Nance. “Many years in the making, this exhibition shows us vividly that, during difficult times, artists will continue to create work that inspires and challenges us all.”
For their exhibition at Cody Gallery, Goldschmied & Chiari present nine works including a new series of their iconic Untitled Views. First developed in 2014, Goldschmied & Chiari devised a secret—almost alchemical—technique involving colored smoke-bombs whose elaborate billows the artists capture on film and then transfer the images onto glass and mirrors. When observers stand in front of these works, their own reflections mingle with the exhibition’s lights, shadows, and images of smoke to become a dynamic part of the artwork. The ever-changing interplay of light, objects, and viewers’ reflections yields a multiplicity of images and meanings—too many for any one title to encompass. Furthermore, the initials of Untitled Views suggest solar UV rays, which can be insidious: invisible to the eye, and yet dangerous. Again, the artists play with hidden meanings—a pleasing surface (or smokescreen) can veil a barbed truth or connotation.
Speaking about their partnership, Goldschmied & Chiari said, “Each is the mirror of the other in the realization of the final work: there is a continuous dialogue, a recurring conversation. Our use of the mirror is a reflection of this—so to speak—with a strong link to the concept of time. Throughout our process, the changes that occur in our ideas and work are continuous and forward-moving.”
In dialogue with the six Untitled Views are three new Murano glass vases sculptures, called Magnifica, which gives the exhibition its evocative name. The word “Magnifica” (magnificent) is deliberately used by the artists in its Italian (and feminine) form. It was inspired by the ancient “Hymn to Isis,” the Egyptian goddess of life and magic and the divine embodiment of femininity. The last sentence of the hymn describes her as magnificent (“For I am the shameful and the magnificent one”), an adjective that conveys strength, power, and a positive force: all recurrent themes for Goldschmied & Chiari.
The anthropomorphic shapes of the Magnifica vases are sensual and dangerous—drawing inspiration from carnivorous Nepenthes and Sarracenia (pitcher plants) in deep reds and purples, and from lipstick kisses on napkins in bold pinks. The artists worked with craftsmen from the Italian island of Murano to create these vases, a process which involved breathing and blowing; thus, a human mouth has created a mouth-like vase, which conceptually blows the colored smoke integral to the Untitled Views—adding a further dimension to the interplay between the exhibition space and the reflecting mirrors.
“Goldschmied & Chiari’s Magnifica poses trenchant questions about feminine identity, power, modern life, and the interplay of these forces and others with the natural world. These intersections open rich dialogues across many areas of study, addressing some of the most pressing issues of our society today,” said Cody Gallery director Caitlin Berry. “In the spirit of collaboration and creativity, we enthusiastically welcome to Marymount University the rich artistic practice of Goldschmied & Chiari, and look forward to sharing Magnifica with our community and beyond.”
Magnifica is funded by a grant from the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism under the 2019 Italian Council Program.
About the Artists
Milan-based artists Sara Goldschmied (b.1975, Arzignano) and Eleonora Chiari (b.1971, Rome) have been working together as the artist-duo Goldschmied & Chiari since 2001. Sara and Eleonora met in the late 1990s through a shared interest in photography and feminism activism, which soon led to joint art projects and a remarkable two-decade long partnership. They have earned widespread respect and recognition, both in Italy and internationally, through their innovative use of photography, video, performance, and installations. Much of their work draws conceptually from philosophy, social studies, and their historical Italian background. Their dynamic of working as a duo fundamentally impacts their approach to every project. They state that their most essential tool “…is our relationship as an artist duo because it feeds our art practice, for example, so that we see multiple sides of one issue.”
About International Arts & Artists
International Arts & Artists is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally through exhibitions, programs, and services to artists, arts institutions, and the public.
About the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, DC
The Italian Cultural Institute (IIC) in Washington, DC, is an office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian government, dedicated to the promotion of Italian culture in the United States through the organization of cultural services and events.
Image credits: Right: Goldschmied & Chiari, Untitled Portrait (tre studi per un ritratto), 2019, Digital print on glass and glass mirror. Left: Goldschmied & Chiari, Magnifica, 2020, Murano blown glass, Photo by Roberto Marossi. Images courtesy of the artists.