You may not have heard of Rä di Martino but since being born in Rome in 1975, moving to London in 1997 and then on to New York in 2005 and now back to Italy - Turin to be precise - she's amassed a staggering body of interesting and well thought out work.
We could have picked any of her series of photographs, video films or installations to highlight but her Every World's A Stage series of photographs of abandoned Hollywood sets - specifically from George Lucas's Star Wars - in the Moroccan desert particularly caught our eye.
In them, di Martino raises questions about what kind of relationship springs up between the products of the movie industry and the people who absorb and live with its byproducts. In particular, di Martino explores the idea of the landscape as a “stand-in” . The Morroccan desert is a perfect choice as it's long been used by Hollywood studios as a visual signifier for anywhere from ancient Egypt to Jerusalem, Tibet to ancient Rome.
The photographer was particularly interested in how the natural ruins of desert towns were added to by a plethora of abandoned props, built in a Hollywood studio and shipped out, then abandoned to settle and mutate into their new home.
To that end she spent over a year travelling though the desert towns of Morocco and Tunisia, photographing the enormous structures, often made of mdf, primed and painted, but gradually decomposing - the remains of an imaginary world created by cinema yet taking on a 'real' life beyond the movie complex.
Futuristic fake watch towers, alien settlements appear almost as land art in her photographs, occasionally peopled by a passing Berber tribesman. Di Martino has shown her work in solo and group shows at MoMA PS1; Palazzo Grassi, Venice and MACRO, Rome. There's rumours of a Tate showing this year. We'll keep you posted.
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