La Gallera, Valencia
testo di Alba Braza.

Encara de nou [Still Again] came about from a common intention shared by Daniela De Lorenzo and myself to stage an exhibition where a respect for the structure and history of the exhibition space would be a constant, and where the work and the space would be as one.

It all came about from a more modest project, revolving around the video Dammi il tempo! and a ceramic sculpture Sur place, later extended, thanks to the commission and funding of the Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, with the production of a new work created ex profeso for La Gallera based specifically on a prior investigation of the actual space.

The title of the exhibition, Encara de nou, is as open as the project itself, picking up on the idea of repetition as action, and hiding (or anticipating) the impossibility that this carries inherent within it. The videos are shown in loop, the sculptures refer back to the video, the exhibition design reproduces the structure of the space (not as an exhibition venue but as a cockfighting ring which was the original function of the building) in much the same way as it harks back to the period of construction and at once, the whole exhibition, like the whole body of work of Daniela De Lorenzo, is a continuous citation of the history of European art.


I. The project

During Daniela’s first visit to Valencia to acquaint herself with La Gallera she became fascinated with the period and painting of the Spanish baroque coupled with an equal interest in the original use of the building as a venue for cockfights.
When raising one’s eyes to the balustrade in La Gallera one is inevitably reminded of such deeply ingrained images in our culture as The Miracle of Saint Anthony of Padua by Goya in the Chapel of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid. To a certain extent, the exhibition design corresponds, so near yet so far, to the pictorial composition used by Spanish baroque painting, with an evident admiration for artists like Ribera, Ribalta or El Greco… and also to the traditional use of La Gallera.

We started out from a structure which is as obvious as it is functional, a circular space with a diameter of approximately nine metres and an inner dodecagonal perimeter marked by arches and pillars that extend to the two floors of the building.
The ground floor was where the cockfights took place and the first floor was where the spectators looked down on the fight below, following the fight watching the action (movements, anecdotes) between their fellows as they wagered, winning and losing, sating the voyeuristic instinct the space inevitably arouses.

Encara de nou reproduces the play of gazes following the action but this time with a different subject and reason. The action remains on the ground floor, with three red felt sculptures resting directly on the ground, twisted into “unnatural” forced shapes. On the first floor, between alternate arches, are six videos which can be seen from below with a slight, almost contrapposto twist of the spectator, conveying the impression of being watched by the different figures appearing in the videos, thus co-opting them into the action.
Davanti, located discreetly in the left-hand corner of the ground floor also partakes in this play of gazes. A self-portrait of the artist based on a tricked gaze by means of a false eyelash placed in the middle of the artist’s cheek through which she projects her gaze towards the lens of the camera which she herself has placed casually. We are seeing a gaze that, in turn, looks to the centre of the scene, a spectator out of place who participates as a peeping tom. It is on the first floor that we can really feel like a spectator, where the videos can be viewed from a more natural position and one can appreciate that the correct viewpoint for the sculptures is from here on the first floor.


The historical print of the space is associated with the history of a period and with references to the history of art. In his text Pier Luigi Tazzi recounts his own particular vision of it, taking his starting point in outlining this historicism in Daniela’s work.

Divested of any implication or intention related with the religious mystical experience, Encara de nou returns only to the canons and forms and not the essence.

The three sculptures on the ground floor were made using the artist’s own body, making her both mould and model, as well as sculptor. Created in felt, a material to which we could almost dedicate the entire catalogue , and usually employed for making clothes, Daniela De Lorenzo now transforms it into a body in itself, the absence which marks the presence of he who is, has or will be present, the trace of a gesture, an aspect explored in greater depth by Fernando Castro Flórez.


These gestures act as a thread connecting the first and second level, gestures inviting us to look up, almost directed like in scenes created by artists such as Juan de Juanes in the painting San Esteban disputando en el templo (1565 c.) where St Stephan’s arm acts as a guide for the spectator to follow the order of the story being narrated; or in The Resurrection (1584 -1610) by Greco in which the verticality is expressly marked by svelte bodies with stylised arms and extended necks to provoke a similar posture in the spectator.


On the first floor, Daniela De Lorenzo uses the video as a means to represent the non-representable, ideas as old as time and memory, absence… A representation of the unrepresentable, of the intangible, in a space traditionally set aside for it: Yet the lack of clarity, the nebulousness of the mystical style is no more than the consequence of a unanimity between speech and its object. In effect it is a question of another language which speaks of another reality. The full import of this is evident if we examine how the visual experience of the Sacred is expressed: the “somber light”, the “light darkness”, the “tenebrous ray” are oxymorons that do no more than reflect the paradoxes of the Sacred when visualized, paradoxes summarized well enough by the formula: “I see everything and I see nothing” .

II. Dammi il tempo!, Veggente and Davanti… as absolute portrait

If for one moment Dammi il tempo! (video) was to be disguised as painting, Daniela De Lorenzo would have painted a figure, a subject (in this case the dancer Ramona Caia) and would then have invited her to undertake an action directed by herself (the artist), indicating with words the movements for the dancer (performer) to follow, giving rise to a second painting .
At this point, I should perhaps mention one of Daniela’s favourite contemporary philosophers, Jean-Luc Nancy, plus the portrait and self-portrait (without distinguishing between them for the moment) as key themes in a large part of her artistic output , as well as their presence in the pieces chosen and produced for La Gallera.

Dammi il tempo! is composed of two phases or moments which, taken together, give rise to one single work. In the first of the two, Daniela photographs the dancer in a specific (forced) posture proposed by the artist; and in the second she projects this photo (now transformed into a slide) onto the dancer directing her verbally to reproduce as faithfully as possible, with very slow movements, this image-gesture projected on her but which she cannot see, as she is merely the screen for the light. The intention of re-producing the posture responds exclusively to the desires and the demands of Daniela De Lorenzo, and it is in the memory rather than in the dancer herself where the posture exists.

The image of the slide is static in each one of the videos, which is always arranged based on the figure, yet despite the fact that it is always the same subject there is something that reveals a different personality, almost as if it were another person. If a portrait is the representation of a person considered by himself our subject could be incarnating different personalities or showing us different aspects of herself, information controlled and delimited by the represented subject.
It is the same person in all cases, without any action or expression, she does not tell us who she is (also omitted in the title of the work), nor what is her profession or social position… she represents a person in herself, not for her attributes or attributions, nor for her acts, nor for the relationships in which she partakes. The object of the portrait is, strictly speaking, the “absolute subject”: divested on all that is not it, detached from all exteriority.
An “autonomous” portrait that functions by and for itself: it is organised around a figure that is properly speaking, in itself, the end of representation, exclusive of any other scene or relation, of any other value or goal of representation, evocation or signification.

Yet the work of Daniela De Lorenzo enables a combination with other categories of portrait, (representation of the unrepresentable again) because in the second moment of creation of the work it is revealed to us by means of the movement of information previously omitted. Each video hides (non-explicit) references and identities associated with literature, painting and film … a story, an image, which somehow or other has entered into the artist’s memory.
For instance, in the video of the figure with its hands together there is a synthesis of a painting by Jacopo Carrucci, known as El Pontormo ; the video in which the performer places her arms on the ground and walks hints at a photo by the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge ; or the video in which the performer stretched her arms to form a cross with her body is based on the posture adopted by the heroine of one of Kafka’s stories: …Josephine struck up her triumphal whistling and was completely ecstatic, her arms outstretched and her neck fully extended.
Josephine takes up the attitude that indicates her intention to sing—her little head is leaned back, her mouth half open, her eyes directed to the heavens.

This second typology of portrait not only coexists continually with the first, but also looks for it constantly because we should not forget that the only goal of the performer is to repeat the initial position… like a search for one’s self (of one’s memory), of the image waiting to be revealed.

If we were to pay attention to the second and final classification which Nancy proposed, in which the criteria is based on the quantity of persons represented, we see again that Daniela De Lorenzo manages to bring them together. Each video represents one single unique subject, while also agreeing with the organisation of the painting which always tends towards the simple detachment of the figure against a monochromatic backdrop equivalent to the absence of background. Yet at the same time the portrayed figures are several, six , because we should not forget that this is always one single work. The characteristic of a plural portrait is always the mutual avoidance of the gazes: they do not cross, they do not even seek each other out. The persons do not relate. Their common presence in the painting constitutes, strictly speaking, a kind of redundancy and even of resonance (canon or fugue, in musical terms) of the motif of the subject in person. Their gazes should remain without reciprocal attention, and only share in common their individual autonomy.

Then, who is actually the portrayed subject? Ramona Caia is only the will, understood as a consequence of a desire, she is the image that Daniela De Lorenzo wishes to show in her portrait, in her self-portrait, because she is her alter ego.
The sculptures are also born from Daniela, from her hands and her body, it is her physical absence (as a result of the artistic process) that opens the doors to a coherent and continuous discourse that any spectator can partake in by co-opting it as part of himself.

It is a continual game of masking, whether with a consciously misplaced false eyelash, dressing and then undressing in felt or looking for angles of vision impossible to find in oneself with the help of a photographic camera, always in her own hand and un-controlled by her.

Portraits as containers that possess, embrace and enclose timeless and anonymous discourses like time, absence, memory…..

Alba Braza