Rosa Aiello “Traffic” at Kevin Space, Vienna

Aiello’s work draws from films, books, online databases and found objects to form a deeply personal audio—visual repertoire, at once intimate and alienating. She builds narratives by exploring fundamental ambiguities—both the comfort and the oppression—of social and actual structures, and the effects of these structures on experience and subjectivity.
“Traffic” poses Aiello as a keen witness, a voyeur and even an intruder, deliberately superimposing, dubbing, and filtering found material through her gaze, body, and mind, whilst dissolving boundaries: between subject and object of observation, between the artist’s and the viewer’s positions. “Traffic,” however, exceeds Aiello‘s personal universe by far, as the fleeting, mundane scenes, images, or texts, are mined for their value within a larger socio—economic fabric. Departing from seemingly disparate, yet intertwined, narratives and locations, the installation unearths mechanisms of translation and circulation that are the result of linguistic, spatio—temporal, as well as material compressions.
A central element of the installation is Yours Faithfully (2022), a video showing incidental footage from a corner in Reinickendorf, Berlin. With her phone camera, Aiello captured the traffic occurring at the intersection visible from her apartment. On top of the sounds of the street, the artist has dubbed the sound of her own footsteps. On her studio floor, Aiello carefully and imperfectly restaged the gait and rhythm of each person’s walking, performing her home—made version of a foley soundtrack—a common cinematic post—production technique, the need for which rose with the increased international circulation of Hollywood movies, as overdubbed voice tracks in multiple languages meant the ensuing loss of some original sound effects. The video is in dialogue with the architectural intervention that partitions the exhibition space into four sections—hovering above the ground and leaving the lower part open and thus the visitors’ feet visible—the work incorporates the viewers’ presence and movements into its audio—visual, spatial experience. The flattening of difference and distance here lays ground for the sonic coexistence and interlacing of many rhythms.
In this exhibition, traffic is implied beyond the movement of people and towards the exchange of goods and information transmitted over an economic system. The effect of globalized capitalism on language and perception lingers in eight collages of Yours Faithfully (case (Feste) Kiste), Yours Faithfully (We remain), Yours Faithfully (Please do not), Yours Faithfully (Dear Sirs), Yours Faithfully (panic both in), Yours Faithfully (Competitors’ products cheaper), Yours Faithfully (Dear Rolf) and Yours Faithfully (Dear Mr. Handy), (2022). On the found folder dividers, Aiello arranged cut-outs of pages from an obsolete GDR manual for writing business letters in English. The works center the particularities of language—a range of exchanges, expressions and tonalities—applied to different occasions and urgencies for businessmen in the socialist German Democratic Republic (and thus the texts exist as hypothetical mediators between diverging socio—economic and political blocks). Some of the letters selected by Aiello focus on the trade of film materials and reminisce the changing nature of film’s materiality and economy, here circling around the import of ORWO Film sound negative film stock to India. The collages emanate the texts‘ nature as relics in an utterly changed and accelerated world.
Dear Sirs (2022) is a photograph shot by Aiello, again from her Berlin apartment, from the very same room from which the intersection footage was taken. Her voyeuristic look, intruding on the privacy of an unidentified, shirtless man, flirts with both empathy and dominance, and thus intensifies an uneasy attention that runs through “Traffic”, somewhere between caring, claiming, and testimony.

at Kevin Space, Vienna
until January 28, 2023

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