Desire Lines by Lara Shipley, is a story of borders. The lines that mark these borders, however, are also the scars left by profound injuries, the traces of a desire, the uncertain contours of an expectation and a new beginning. The first exhibition in the second cycle dedicated by Rifugio Digitale to contemporary photography, is entitled Desire Lines, by the American photographer Lara Shipley, curated by Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci. Here, the camera turns its eye on the sun-scorched desolation of the Sonoran Desert, between Arizona and Mexico, where one of the “hottest” frontiers of the United States is located: the focus of an increasingly polarized debate on application of the immigration laws.
The issue of how to manage migratory flows lies at the heart of contemporary social and political strife, also in other parts of the world, and is a central element of the theme – Homecoming – that this exhibition introduces. The new cycle, organized by Irene Alison for Rifugio Digitale, explores the concept of home from various angles, dissecting the precarious balance between global interconnectedness and national identity, the need of some individuals to find, protect and preserve their roots, and of others to find a place in which they can survive and put down roots. What do we mean today when we speak of “home”? Is it a geographical location, a state of mind, a community of people? Is home just the longing for a place in which we have never actually lived? A promised land?
On cover: © Lara Shipley, Desire Lines project, 2011-2023.
Lara Shipley is an American photographer. Her work was exhibited in international photography festivals such as the Athens Photo Festival at the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece; and Cortona on the Move, in Cortona, Italy, as well as appearing in a biennial at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, USA, and at GuatePhoto International Photography Festival in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Her work is in collection institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art Library in New York, Whitney Museum of American Art Library, Smithsonian American Art Museum Library, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Nelson Atkins Museum for Art in Kansas City. A photobook of her work with artist Antone Dolezal, Devil’s Promenade, was published by Overlapse Books in 2021. A second photobook, Desire Lines, was published by Overlapse Books in 2023. Lara’s photographs appear in publications such as The New Yorker Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, British Journal of Photography, Atlantic Monthly, Vice, and NPR. She received a MFA in photography from Arizona State University and a Bachelors of Photojournalism from the University of Missouri. She is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Michigan State University.
For Lara Shipley, “home” is the place the migrants leave behind them when they set out, and also the place they hope to find when they cross the border. Yet, many of those who manage to survive the desert are destined to remain in limbo, between the nostalgia for what they have lost and the disappointment for what they have found in a country in which they are forever destined to be foreigners. Beyond the grim fascination of the stark Sonoran landscape – barren, dusty hills, dry weeds bent by the wind and, above, the menacing hum of helicopters and drones dotting the horizon of a hyper-surveilled region – Desire Lines explores a more metaphorical border: a vortex of estrangement and unfamiliarity, a story of a brutalized dream and of subjugation, destined to repeat itself in time. Mixing documentary snapshots with archival records, Lara Shipley positions the current migratory crisis ongoing along the American border in a much longer historical framework, forcing us to see it not as an isolated phenomenon, a particular “problem” in need of solution – but as part of a process that has deep roots in human history: a long history that goes back to the European conquistadores of the 17th century and the colonists in search of fortune in the “Wild West” in the 19th and early 20th century. The foundational myth of the United States was built around it then, and now walls are going up.
In photo: Lara Shipley.
Oct. 25 at 7:30 pm: private dinner-preview with Lara Shipley and curators Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci
only by invitation
Oct. 26 at 12 pm: press conference with Lara Shipley and curators Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci
Oct. 26 at 4-6 pm: lecture with Lara Shipley in dialogue with curator Irene Alisonfree admission subject to availability
Oct. 26 at 6:30 pm: exhibition opening with Lara Shipley and curators Irene Alison and Paolo Cagnacci
Oct. 27-Nov. 12, 2023, Wed.-Sun. 11 am-7 pm: exhibition tours
free admission; reservation required for guided tours
Browse the catalog of Forma Edizioni.
29.10.2023_L’ECO DELLA STAMPA