FACES

"You can see in your eyes” is a peculiar work from the exhibition “Small unimportant mistakes” by Ana Calzavara. A large face that jumps to the eyes, first by the constrained and internalized countenance of the artist’s face. One can also notes a great contrast between light and shadow all over the image, as if the face was divided in two halves. Antagonisms of the Self? Confrontation with a more unknown and obscure part of herself? These are questions that resonate when confronted with this face to the internal depth, a kind of moment outside of time and space - which obviously awakens emotions and reflection in the one who looks at it.

         

 Since the first time I looked at this work of Ana Calzavara I couldn’t help thinking about “Persona", one of the most popular movies from the Swede filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. Not unconsciously, there are some scenes in the movie in which both main characters (Alma and Elisabeth) appear in close to the screen, with half of the face dark, and the other, illuminated. The intention is clear, once the film discusses the issue of the different facets of he Self, one displayed in public (in the social environment), in contrast with a second, which expresses the motivations and desires not confessed to the others or even morally reprehensible. In spite of the absolute silence of Elisabeth, Alma is able to penetrate in her drama, but somehow she ends up mixing it together with her own conflicts.

   

The psychologist Carl Jung offers an interpretive key to help us talk about this issue when presenting his concepts of persona and shadow. In theoretical terms, persona and shadow are archetypes; i.e., are structures or human potential that we carry from birth. Roughly, persona affects how we show to the outside world, the part of our personality revealed to the others. The name was inspired by the Roman term to designate the mask of the actor of the tragedy to compose the roles and characters, that is, the face that shines out from the stage to the audience (the social world). The shadow would be the part that is not illuminated by the Self (ego) and your persona. It is composed of personal and collective elements that remain unconscious, forming a sort of partial personality, with opposing or complementary tendencies to the usual attitude of the Self. 

           

This idea is aligned with the concept of inner multiplicity that permeates the work of Jung. Most part of the time, what we believe to be when faced with other people is just a representation of someone unreal: a sort of a contract between the internal and the external facets of the Self, like a minor character of little importance acting at the role of the main one. However, when we look ‘behind the curtain’s stage’, there are other selves, fighting with very different and conflicting desires compared to the ones of the Self contained in the persona. So, it would be better and more honest to affirm we are inhabited by characters, that we do not have a truth personality but different points of view in the psyche. The term shadow indicates precisely what is outside the light focus of consciousness, but has great importance in the composition of subjectivity.

         

Of course we do not know literally what expect from the silence of Calzavara’s work, but it is not difficult to deduce a conflict generated by the experience – always rich but never exempt from pain – of being partially taken by the shadow, in Jung terms.

         

If the group of works called “Small unimportant mistakes” (from which “You can see in her eyes” takes part) focuses on the multiple points of view and the error without any importance – but which paradoxically become vitally relevant – Calzavara’s self-portrait is not an exception, despite the visual difference that loads compared to the other works of the same exhibition. The duality quality it carries with it, the light and the dark face’s sides present in it, lead us to a more mysterious and erratic point of view: the inner depth of our Psyche. As in the case of Bergman’s film, in spite of not knowing much of the outer life of Elisabeth, we entered into her mental suffering, revealed by her companion who, not incidentally, is named Alma (the Latin word for Soul). Finally, it is worth to remember that Jung called the Soul (Seele) the bridge to the countless archaic potentialities of the human being. And maybe this gives us a clue to get closer to a Bergman’s sentence: “The human face is the great subject of the cinema. Everything is there”.

Guilherme Scandiucci

You can see in your eyes   woodcut and photograph on metacrylate 135x155cm