Eleonora Quadri, AiR 2013 (Artist in Residence)

Eleonora Quadri's practice is predominantly based on analogue photographic process and on its potential connection with the text and written word. While photography transforms reality in a sculptural and conceptual way, the texts create a narrative and aesthetic connection with the images. In her works, fragments and moments isolated from the reality are included into a new expressive context, where photographic and writing practices behave in a similar way to a translation: the past passes through the imagination and the ancient stories can be related with our time.

Examining the idea of ephemeral and the line between collective memory, individual stories and identity, Eleonora Quadri's works focus on spaces where the memory takes form: cemetery, museums, archeological sites are situations where, behind an illusory immobility, time reveals its own physical dimension. In these spaces history seems to reaffirm his importance, standing opposite to a contemporary where it is transitoriness itself which becomes eternalised.

Tying in with her research, AIR residency at Stills will provide time to connect her work with Edinburgh's culture, exploring it's historical and artistic backgrounds. During this period, Eleonora Quadri will inquire into the writings about Edinburgh of Stevenson and the Memories and correspondences of Susan Ferrier, as a way to look at the city from an intimate and ancient point of view.

2015 Project Update

On 10 October 2013, I found this among the letters of Susan Edmonstone Ferrier:

Such is the situation poetical, geographical, atmospherical, intellectual, and optical of the damsel who now addresses you; and these lines, descriptive of her unhappy circumstances, may prove no less instructive to posterity than they are interesting to present times. As I find my correspondence is carefully preserved by you, I flatter myself it is with the view of being one day presented to the public in twelve handsome octavo volumes, embellished with a portrait of the authoress, and enriched with a facsimile of her handwriting. Having this hope before my eyes, I carefully abstain from the vulgar practice of dating my letter, aware how greatly uncertainty adds to interest. With regard to this letter, my future biographer will say (for my Life must go along with my head and hand): It has been found impossible to fix any precise date; all we can ascertain is that it must have been written somewhere in the vicinity of the sea during very tempestuous weather, and we also learn that the author was much addicted to reading by the fireside (probably with her toes on the fender), and that her sight was materially affected by this unremitting attention to her studies. Of the nature of these studies it would be presumptuous to hazard a guess. We certainly cannot deny what has been alleged, that “Jack the Giant Killer” at this time formed a part of her course of reading, but it is not probable a mind such as our author’s could take much delight in such scenes of rapine and bloodshed!

(J. A. Doyle, Memoir and Correspondence. Susan Edmonstone Ferrier 1782-1854)

Susan Ferrier, born in Edinburgh in 1782, was the author of three novels, which remained anonymous until 1851. She died in 1854. Today she has been almost completely forgotten.

I had to find a way to answer her. There exists a profound contradiction between the projection and reception of one’s own work into the future, thinking of oneself in another time, and being forced to authorial anonymity almost all one’s life. Her letter was a vain fantasy of eternity, a request for memory, a desire. My response, whatever form it took, would be the vindication of something which had not come true.

Months later, I was taking some photos in an abandoned space, which was shortly to be renovated. I hung a piece of fabric between two doors, and took a shot of myself standing, side-on, hidden by the weave of the fabric. The more I looked at my self-portrait, the less I could recognise myself. The fabric had created a barrier, a filter, beyond which the light designated an indefinite space. In this space, a new identity had taken shape.

The portrait is thus my response to Susan Ferrier: an attempt at empathic identification, an exchange, between her story and my imagination.

Slide show: 
40 km from Malta, 24 may 1941 (2013) Gelatin silver print, text
43° 52' 23'' N 7° 44' 11'' E (2013) C-print, text
43° 52' 23'' N 7° 44' 11'' E (2013) C-print, text
Anonymous Author (2014) Installation view at Foro Boario, Modena
Selfportrait: Susan Edmonstone Ferrier 1818 (2014) Inkjet print (146 x 110cm)
Untitled (2014) Text embroidered on fabric (27.5 x 39cm)

Eleonora Quadri (B. Bergamo, Italy 1986). She studied literature and contemporary art and earned her BA and MA in Art History from the University of Bologna; she has worked for one year on the contemporary art project All in good time, based in Bergamo. Then she joined the two-year Master in Photography (Master di Alta Formazione sull'Immagine Contemporanea) at Fondazione Fotografia in Modena, where she is currently studying and is engaged in Stills' AiR residency exchange programme in Edinburgh in partnership with Fondazione Fotografia, Modena.

Slideshow credit
Image 1 40 km from Malta, 24 may 1941 (2013) Gelatin silver print, text
Text: The sea wasn't no longer water stretch, but it was a forniture oil stretch and it would have been enought a matchstick to transform that immeasurable water stretch in an immeasurable fire flame and we all would have burned in the middle of the sea