Eva Sauer: the state of things and its shadow. A r...

Eva Sauer: the state of things and its shadow. A reflection on the distance between citizenship, truth and power

A new event by SRISA Gallery of Contemporary Art took place in Florence: the gallery in recent years has stood out for a busy calendar of monographic and collective exhibitions capable of giving the temperature of art research in the city, with some valid insights into the Italian panorama. The gallery, part of the Santa Reparata International School of Art, is a precious place because it is capable of uniting different contexts and attitudes while also offering itself to the community thanks to the large window that allows the exhibition room to communicate with the outside.

Eva Sauer, Filtraggio Spaziale (Acoustic Mirrors), 2023, environmental installation. Ph Eva Sauer, courtesy the artist

It is space that can be crossed or just looked at, dense but also apparently linear like the installation by Eva Sauer, a new act of a long and troublesome work that has occupied her for years and which insinuates itself in the mesh between the state and citizens, truth and communication. The photographic, sculptural and editorial works collected under the title The lizard’s tail (stay behind) reveal the artist’s ability to organize a story, between omissions and representations, through different media that constantly put the viewer on alert. A web of apparently irreconcilable clues that reconstruct a fragmented scene, an abyss with elusive contours. The book, The State of Things (2023), makes clear the context in which we are moving both with respect to the internationality of the school and the theme that unites the different works. The Italian and English edition collects some definitions of the term “state” reported by various sources such as the Encyclopedia Treccani, the Dictionary of Economics and Finance, Wikipedia, The New Universal Dictionary from 1969 and Britannica. All of them, albeit with fluctuations in content, indicate the latter as the set of laws that define the coexistence of a community. In this unit, the explanation proposed by Princeton University, one of the most famous universities of the American Ivy League, differs, reporting in a sibylline way the fundamental role of supranational bodies from NATO to UNESCO in the international field. A concept that is particularly in line with today’s current events, which finds its counterpart in the famous quote by Francesco Cossiga «just as some like flowers, I like spies», reported at the bottom of the booklet, which reveals all his passion for spies.

Eva Sauer, Balad, 12.11.1993 | Mogadishu, 20.03.1994 | Livorno, 13.5.1995, 2023, installation. Ph Eva Sauer, courtesy the artist

Filtraggio Spaziale (Acoustic Mirrors), 2023, instead, works on the architectural-sculptural level delimiting the space, conforming it and modifying it, forcing the public to cross it. The installation, inspired by the shapes of passive devices used to reflect and focus sound waves built between the two world wars following the invention of radar, implies a continuous occult surveillance and signaling system that surrounds us.The anxiety over the discrepancy between appearance and reality is staged in an exemplary way by the three photographs housed in fluorescent plexiglass boxes, which illuminate the different subjects represented with a ghostly light. Open at the sides, these green boxes reveal the true nature of what they conserve only in certain conditions, in a parallel with the often mystifying action of the media. Even the shots, which represent a man, a mountain lake and a silica stone, reveal after some research the connection with the stories of the journalist Ilaria Alpi and some of her informants on the investigation into arms trafficking and radioactive waste which caused her death. Fate shared with the two deep throats, Vincenzo Li Causi and Marco Mandolini, both soldiers involved in the secret services and part of the Stay-behind structure, a clandestine paramilitary organization promoted by NATO to counter a possible Soviet invasion of Western Europe, in particular of the Italian group known as Gladio. The shadow of their vicissitudes remains only in the title of the installation (Balad, 12.11.1993 | Mogadishu, 20.03.1994 | Livorno, 13.5.1995) which, in a cinematic way, collects the place and date of their tragic deaths.

Eva Sauer, The State of Things, 2023, books. Ph Eva Sauer, courtesy the artist

Without journalistic or anthropological intentions, Sauer reveals political mechanisms, thanks to a wise use of space and the value of the image. She also gives us an attitude of attention to detail that should be in each of us as an integral part of the state. An opposition to that desire of its apparatuses to invite us to “stay behind” which are put into play through a constant capacity for coercion, resistance and transformation: just as the lizard in danger is capable of separating itself from its tail, aware that it will subsequently grow back, so the system eliminates those who, initially allies, have shown the intention of revealing its most intimate secrets (The lizard’s tail).

Serena Trinchero


Eva Sauer. The lizard’s tail (stay behind)
10/10/2023 – 10/11/2023
SRISA Gallery of Contemporary Art – Santa Reparata International School of Art
Via San Gallo 53/R, 50129 Firenze


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