#eye #eye
Y        OCCULT      Fear of Mirrors    RAKSHASA


ALBA ZARI   ︎  ︎  ︎  ︎  ︎   



Few authors can match Alba Zari’s control of the photographic medium, which she explores to its furthest point.
Without resorting to optical tricks or special effects, Alba tells her story; in doing so, she investigates the ambiguity that is intrinsic to photography, as well as the medium’s arcane relationship with reality and memory, its documentary power, and its limits.
As the philosopher Jean-Marie Schaeffer explained, the image in itself is silent, precarious—it is only through intentionality that it can become a statement about the world. Depending on intentionality and context, very different stories can be told.
In Occult, Zari balances miraculously, as if on a tightrope, between shifting lights and voices, thus revealing, through a series of acrobatics, her own glimpse of truth—her own statement about the world.
And so, Alba takes archival images of the cult she was born into, known at the time as The Children of God, and turns its propaganda back on itself in order to denounce it. She gathers photographs from her family albums to offer glimpses into her and her mother’s childhoods; the inert reminders of identity enshrined in these memories are used to open doors to an alternate past. She takes pictures of contemporary rituals and reveals their hypocrisy, commodification, and implicit colonialism.
Occult is a difficult project in terms of technique and emotional impact, both on the audience and on the artist herself. Alba sets out to retrace the steps of her mother’s youth. As she meticulously reconstructs her dark past, she imagines an alternative version of the story, taking a stance where she knows her mother could not.
Her eye is non-judgmental, yet sharp and firm. She reclaims her autonomy from her own personal history, but also from those Westerners in search of enlightenment who immerse themselves in other cultures without actually wanting to live in them and understand them— knowing that they could always step back if they wanted. The result is a feminist argument against the misogynist cult that she left when she was 4 years old; it is also a reflexion on the inescapable nature of family and cultural origins, as well as an example of the power of images, be it positive or negative.
So indeed, as James Salter wrote, “there are only fragments.” And yet, within this constellation of stories, illusions, and individualities, Alba Zari pieces these fragments together like no one else can.

Chiara Bardelli Nonino