Geografia temporale XXVII (2014) by Sophie Ko looks exactly like a painting: it has the dimensions of a painting, it is framed, covered by a protective glass, and it hangs on a wall. At first glance, however, no picture characterises it or appears on its surface but after a few seconds, when the eye indulges on a more subtle view – like when entering a dark room – and thanks to a more careful observation, recognisable, clear signs become evident. What visitors see is not a monochrome – meant as a painting characterised by a uniform single colour – but rather a sort of container of a very subtle powder, pressed behind the glass: pure pigment, as it can be read on the caption. However, this coloured powder is less homogeneous than it seems: it is certainly pure, since it is evident that there is nothing but powder beyond the glass, but it is not spread in a uniform way. Thus the work can be actually considered as a monochrome, as it is characterised by a single colour, but is also animated by important “events”: falls, orographic representations or, as suggested by the title, “geographies”, that provoke both bewilderment and reassurance.
The space identified by the work is actually a “geography”: a territory where the eye is free to happily roam; an Eden where the sense of sight, continuously put to test by an incredible amount of pictures and images that assault it daily, can be eventually nurtured and pacified. This work is actually a space. Like every space it is exposed to numerous external fundamental forces that regulate the universe, such as gravity and time. Gravity, for instance, is continuously affecting the material of which the painting is made, therefore, from time to time, a fragment of pigment falls: it detaches from the surface on which the artist had put it, ending up somewhere else, decided by casualty. This gravitational phenomenon is inevitably linked with a temporal dimension, which really occurs rather than being represented within this particular work of art.
“Geographies” of “time”.
It is from this perspective that the painting needs to be interpreted as a geographical map that documents its territory’s changes, without the need to be constantly re-written: an orography made of pigment in continuous development that can simultaneously narrate itself and its past.