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Chaos… is what you perceive, silent and creeping, in Luisa Raffaelli's hypertrophic atmospheres. Perhaps millenaristic, apocalyptic, definitive… or perhaps the usual delirium which we no longer notice unless with new visual perceptions.. in any event a chaos that insinuates itself beneath mimetic masks, enveloping daily life, bodies, ways of dressing, interior design, streets… A vital chaos, whichever way you look at it. Which has nothing to do with another chaos, that of an idea of bulimia (the current portrayal) where the unresolved approaches confuse the view of the weak spectator. A chaos from which fewer and fewer artists manage to escape from. Incapable of feeding an archetype of rescue (let's call it antichaos) with a well-engineered form and theory. However, Raffaelli seems to be on the right road, creating an art based on chaos (within the themes and narrative methods) and antichaos (within the grammar): the first (chaos) is characterising, treated as a regulator that feeds the vision; the second (antichaos) denotes, divided between synthesis, recognisability and coherence. The final balance gives rise to a harmonious fullness, an enthropic process that outlines dense images. Functional works, for the sake of clarity. It is up to you to discover them, perhaps without chaos.
Antichaos… a natural antidote that certain artists maintain for a spontaneous creative approach. A resistant material with a complex use, suitable for combating various figurative ills. An element you cannot buy nor invent. It lives in direct relationship with manageable chaos. When it works in creative terms, it has no time limits.
Luisa Raffaelli transports us to a day of normal urban madness, including implosive signs and conflicting antagonisms, extraordinary attitudes, watchful fear and the sensation of extended waiting, postures in timid defence or decisive attack. The settings are singular rooms or cities that pulse with warm blood and rising adrenalin. A woman (more than one, diverse guises, several modifications to the same figure?) dominates the individual scene, with red hair, clothes in a modern style, accessories which are just as suited to the generational style. She seems to be on the brink of maximum emotional tension, we do not understand the apparent reason but something is condensed in the atmosphere surrounding her. She is our red woman, a sensual female with elaborately designed clothes, bouffant skirts, sandals and high heeled court shoes, fetish-style lingerie, transparent bodies and tops, tailored jackets, Japanese style clothes, well-matched accessories and jewellery. She lives in a perfect contrast between her way of dressing and an environment of vigilant chaos. She seems to have landed from another planet onto places that reject her while she reacts, pushes to free herself, runs, looks for help, physically resists. She wants to escape from the picture, perhaps save herself from intrusive eyes. She is there to unconsciously incriminate our voyeurism. She certainly has a future, even if it cannot be interpreted in terms of a cause-effect relationship. For our part, we attempt to guess at an interpretation inside the moment, without logical answers, concentrated on the gesture which becomes absolute.
Is the artist the star of the show? Having reached this point, having touched the relationship between the individual and collective projection, it seems unnecessary to specify the identity in question. Because she, whoever is outside the digital manipulation, remains the archetype reached by a doubtful, frightened condition, ferociously weak (but solid for just this reason) in her everyday life. No longer a woman but the Woman who tells of her interior condition. A courageous, autobiographical woman. An artist. And this, at least for now, can satisfy our gaze.
Gianluca Marziani, 2005

Luisa Raffaelli's women are part of a plot which is partially hidden, concealed. They wear tailored clothes and coordinated handbags, they all have a classy air, the air of belonging to that group of women who know how to move and behave. The artist removes them from social life (and from us, the audience, as they never look at the camera), relegating them to private areas in empty rooms or anonymous, deserted alleyways.
Here, these characters, whom one would call elegant, controlled figures, lose their way and their equilibrium, they are decomposed in electrified evolutions, they slide up or jump to the ground in unlikely athletic performances.
In other cases, far from peering eyes, they touch their own secrets, in a ritual of small, crazy gestures, manias or experiments on themselves and on the area. For example, neatly emptying the contents of their handbag onto the pavement, sitting down to look at pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and accessories as if they were looking for a further representation of themselves among the objects. The loss of memory, like narcolepsy, apart from being the result of a physical trauma, can lead to an involuntary flight from the stress of reality. About the phenomenon of the reconstruction of memories, art, literature and cinema have said, especially during the past few years, all there is to say. Nanni Moretti in Palombella Rossa (1989), Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry (1991), Guy Pierce in Memento (2000), Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001), Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity (2002), Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates (2003), Jim Carrey in Charlie Kaufman's wonderful screenplay Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Among the photographers who evoke a similar upheaval bordering on science fiction we must mention at least Gregory Crewdson with his series of tele-transported characters, suspended, who can find themselves completely naked in a well to do suburb, in front of a housewife without knowing how they ended up there, and even the works of the younger Tim Davis who transforms a familiar, reassuring provincial landscape into a place of anxiety or wonder.
We are dealing reproduction mechanisms of "intimate desperation" which Luisa Raffaelli also works on, similar to what Rod Sterling used in the series The Twilight Zone (1959) for some of his characters (with no way out), like the banker in the episode Time enough at last, a bookworm who lived submerged by books, seriously short-sighted, who loses his glasses and goes mad as a result.
Luca Beatrice, 2004

Photos, installations, videos. Luisa Raffaelli presents a journey that by the sheer plurality of the media used seems to aspire to some kind of multiplication, delirium, and imaginative oneiricism. The dominating theme here is a nocturnal epic in ambiguity and metamorphosis, rather like Joyce's "Finnegans Wake". In other words, it is the myth of universal death and rebirth that prevails, in which each and every figure can be found taking the place of all the others, and the different kingdoms (human, vegetable and mineral) are seen to be mixed up with one another. Only in dreams (or in advertising appeal, one may add), do the orders of the universe bond, merge and melt into one another. Space/time conditions become fluid, the symbols ambiguous, leading one's senses astray. So it is with this idea of immense coupling of infinite metamorphosis and free association in mind that Raffaelli presents her subjects. These figures logically outgrow their institutionalised confines and expand, undergoing self-perversion; something that can be observed in the work entitled "Flying in the wind;" where we see a female form whirling in the air whilst leaves are sucked in around her. But where at the same time the very same body starts to show signs of fracture, loss and defeat. In fact, the body struggles to free itself from its own weight, from its own fleshiness; attempting in vain to make room for itself, a heavenly passage, exposing its transition in suspension, unaccomplished; possessing polyvalence but in some way encumbering and oppressing it. In other images (many of which are entitled "The Fall"), the figure actually suffers a fall (a fall into decay) and experiences Icarus's defeat, the end of the adventure and the disintegration of its own cohesive unity. The figure literally "loses" its head, its torso, its whole being, whose presence can be felt only by means of a metonymical game (objects used to recall subjects). Moving on to look at the installations created in acetate, we find a real tangled mat of human details that are at once flimsy, tenuous and in movement. One realises that these are pure spatial apparitions, mere fragments that prove to be fragile, transient and yielding, so much so that they give the impression of keeling over, buckling under one's gaze, like wax exposed to fire.
It is the theory of appearances not being sustained (or of brushstrokes that melt away or of the magic of the artifice that liquefies). And not even this suspicion in the immutability and univocality of the forms is kept locked up in itself, it does not all stop at the simple realisation or exposure of a world that is artificial. Raffaelli actually uses this artificiality ("the deprivation of the body, of substantiality or definability” as she calls it), to imply a new way of looking at the world. A world that is, as we mentioned, inverted, undreamt-of, if not just plain grotesque. It is as if the transparency (or lack of equilibrium), of the images did not remain in their own dimensions of negativity but opened towards the beyond, the polydimensionality of reality and its infinity of possible horizons.
Luigi Meneghelli, 2000


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