Visions of the Mona Lisa
Like millions of tourists that visit the Louvre Museum every year, Isis Gasparini made, in 2010, her own portrait of the Mona Lisa. Or rather, the Mona Lisas. Le Gioconde, in Italian in the plural, is a set of three photographs taken in the most famous room of the French museum, the Salle de la Joconde. The theme chosen by Isis could not have been more mundane. However, her approach is set apart critically from the commonplace images of the Mona Lisa we find by the dozen on the internet. Her work reveals something close to the vision the Mona Lisa herself has of the room she inhabits in the Louvre.
Curiously, at a time when direct contact with the work is possible (despite the glass, the crowds and museum control apparatus), no one contemplates it. Except perhaps the old man in the painting by Tintoretto (Portrait of an Old Man Holding a Handkerchief) which appears in the background of the first photograph, and the woman in the painted portrait captured in the second photograph. A relationship seems to truly be established among the paintings that are together in that room. In the third photograph, where we can see a fragment of Veronese’s Supper at Emmaus in the background, the painting and the museum tourists merge — there is a subtle passage between these two realities, suggesting a kind of continuity between these two worlds.
The relationship established between the paintings, always from the Mona Lisa’s point of view, is perhaps a commentary on the spectators’ presence. Attracted to their own image-making devices, these contemporary pilgrims go to the museum to see what they are already familiar with — not the Mona Lisa, but its image. Caught in this tautological action whose result was already predicted, they lack the openness and willingness to really see, in the sense that Didi Hurberman understands vision: as a split, restless, agitated and open operation involving the viewer and that which is viewed. ¶
Le Gioconde . by Isis Gasparini