"The Living Layers (2012) series consists of the previously un-exhibited work resulting from Valentina’s encounter with the caustic, cramped, stone-cold, chilly “cementified” surfaces of urban space.  Where as the starting point in her previous works was a literary tale (The princess and the pea, Don Quixote, Dante’s Inferno), the six photographs here are no longer arranged according to a story line, but all have the same emotional theme in common: they are the material outcome of the long-term bond she has interwoven with the Tor Pignattara district and the city in general. A setting which, in terms of surroundings, architecture, and landscape, has an “emotional atmosphere” that is unusual for her, born and raised as she was, both as a person and artist, in the soft Maremma landscapes of northern Lazio.

It is the “emotive quality irradiated by surroundings and objects”, the particular Living Heritage of this territory, in other words, which sketch out her new imaginary.  If the Living Layers project has attempted, by means of contemporary art, to interpret the particular range of skills, customs, ways of life that are part of a community’s intangible heritage, and in particular those existing now and thus still being formed, Valentina Vannicola interprets above all that state, of emotion and mood, which every place evokes in its inhabitants.  A heritage of sensations, even if contrasting, made up of aspirations, melancholy, immobility, curiosity, apathy, desire, which can be found both in the furrows of every day life and in the larger expanses of History.

And at last coming back to the mental space from which this journey began, an image imagined a thousand times, that could benothing other than one’s own home, the place from which one leave sand to which one returns, where the fears so often imagined are finally faced. Deliverance that can occur only in a no man’s land, enclosed in a suspended, unmoving moment, frozen thus incapable of producing real change, but precisely for this reason, no longer unalterable. A parallel universe, materialized by Valentina through photography, which we build in secret, of which we are prisoners, but which at the same time welcomes us, protects us, warms us. A space in which we can move freely and without end, and thus go back in time to relive forgotten or lost passages from our lives, to discover “how it might have been.” And finally meet our deepest fears and simple obsessions, face to face."

from the text of Simona Antonacci







The work is printed on Epson Luster paper

Dimension: 80x120 cm

Edition of 7

Year 2012




Study and analysis  of the area

Living Layers is a multi-year project produced by the Wunderkammern Gallery (Rome) in collaboration with MACRO - Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma. Valentina Vannicola was involved in the project and invited to reflect on the urban context of the sixth municipality area of Rome. To study the area, she used maps, charts, tracings, and long walks.

The place became the protagonist of the images and the prompter of the story. The visualisation of the area was translated into a model representing the portion of space analysed, withits green areas, main roads and spatial limits. This allowed Vannicola to have an overall view and to sum up, in an image, the place of investigation to be worked on.

This image aboveis of the finished version of the plastic model, presented on the occasion of the exhibition held in the spaces of the Wunderkammern Gallery. The objects positioned – the airplane, the chair, the whale’s tail, the suitcase, the boat and the house – indicate the point in which the photograph was taken.

Wood, plastic, paper, wool, soil. Dimensions: 47 cmx46 cmx 53 cm



Preparatory sketches

Once the locations had been chosen and the images previsualised, the first preparatory sketches were created. Later, these were brought together in a handmade book.



Exhibition and catalogue

The final work was presented in an exhibition at the Wunderkammern Gallery, and was comprised of the six photographs, two installations and all preparatory material.

Valentina Vannicola’s work concluded the Living Layers project, which involved three other artists: Alexander H. Auriema, Valentina Vetturi and Mark Jenkins. The complete work was brought together in a catalogue presented at a conference at MACRO –Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma.

Using Format