The self-organization of ants is often used as a metaphor for the functioning of the human mind. Without following any evident law or hierarchy (despite her title, the queen is nothing but an oblivious egg-layer, buried in the heart of the community), ants create complex colonies in which individuals perform different jobs for the greater good. Pretty much in the same way, billions of neurons generate thought in our brains by communicating with each other; our cognitive system is based on the free association of such ‘agents’, as Marvin Minsky – one of the fathers of computer science and cofounder of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT – calls these tiny, simple processes in his book The Society of Mind (1986).
In a conversation with Marinella Paderni, the curator of her solo show at Nicoletta Rusconi, Eva Marisaldi explained that her starting point for the exhibition was her fascination with a YouTube clip of an Australian team of entomologists exploring a colossal underground ant settlement. After pouring ten tonnes of cement down its tunnels, the scientists carefully began to dig and discovered an astonishing, petrified ‘city-state’ of main halls, side rooms, highways and dumps. Marisaldi crafted an imaginary replica of the city – the positive of a negative space. Titled Post it (2010), to echo a fleeting note or idea, it is a monumental canary-yellow sculpture made of stuffed rubble bags supported by a geometric wooden structure; it’s like the fossilized skeleton of a primal organism. Captivated by non-linear logic, hermetic associations and involuntary memories induced by ‘the intermittences of the heart’, Marisaldi has created a recondite self-portrait. Her interest in the Australian excavation recalls a famous analogy by Sigmund Freud, who compared the work of the archeologist to that of a psychoanalyst uncovering layer after layer of the patient’s psyche.
A small side room of the gallery hosted another new piece, the video Underlines (2010) which leant its title to the exhibition. Shot in collaboration with Enrico Serotti (a musician and programmer) and with a soundtrack of glitches and buzzes, the video depicts a journey inside a seemingly endless tunnel interspersed by small theatrical sets which were painstakingly handcrafted by the artist. A phrase appears on the wall: ‘An Eye at the Top of the Cone.’ The video seems to map the chaos of the artist’s mental studio: it is littered with confetti, glass, black and white photos and photocopies, scribbled notes, elastic bands, lumps of clay, glitter, rolls of paper and plastic. Marisaldi characteristically employs a wide range of media, ranging from drawing to sculpture, environments, digital animations and animatronics, but the variety of materials displayed here seem to represent the bric-a-brac of memory; they’re like souvenirs of multiple identities – but then disorder, as Edgar Morin postulates in his investigation On Complexity (2008), is a necessary condition for order and self-organization.