Women to Watch 2008: Photography
The artist selected from the UK in 2008 was Elisa Sighicelli, who was represented at the Museum by two of her works from a series she produced in Shanghai.
UK Friends of the NMWA were delighted that London-based photographer Elisa Sighicelli, proposed by UK Friends of the NMWA in late 2006, was selected by the NMWA’s Head Curator Susan Fisher Sterling for exhibition in March 2008.
Elisa Sighicelli, born in Turin, in 1968, received her MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where she lives and works today. Sighicelli explores ordinary scenes and objects through video and photography, drawing special attention to light in both its literal and depicted forms. The two photographs selected for the exhibition “Women to Watch” were from a series she produced in Shanghai of lighted advertising billboards. The products that are ordinarily promoted on these enormous screens have been edited out, leaving an abstract pattern of neon light in a gridded rectangular frame. The contrast between the monumental, rectilinear images and the shadows of cheap, commercial products draws attention to the hollow, perfect ordinariness of the structure.
Sighicelli’s photographs, while produced in editions, are unique by virtue of the artist’s thoughtful placement of neon light bulbs behind the surface of each photograph. In this way, she alters the appearance of particular areas of the image, allowing light to become more or less illusionistic or real. The lightboxes give the works the quality of being both an object (the visible electrical cord stressing its functionality) and depicted image at the same time.
Elisa Sighicelli has exhibited in a wide variety of public institutions in countries ranging from her native Italy to Australia and Israel. This exhibition at the NMWA was her first exposure in the United States at a major public venue.