Simona Prives: towards the noise of dark waters at PRACTICE

Photo Story

Simona Prives, installation view

Simona Prives’s latest installation at Philadelphia’s PRACTICE Gallery, towards the noise of dark waters, combines projection and collage to explore themes of renewal and decay. This site-specific installation by the Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist features life-sized projections of collages built upon densely packed drawings, ink paintings, and various printmaking techniques. These collages suggest maps, geological patterns, and industrial imagery, creating abstract yet recognizable worlds.

Prives animates these collages by integrating stop-motion drawings, paintings, and a blend of hand-shot video with archival film footage. She extends her printmaking from analog to digital to create an immersive landscapes where images construct and deconstruct in the rhythm of a dream. The soundscape, designed by composer Ross Williams, further enhances the viewer’s experience.

Simona Prives, video still

Hosted by Practice Gallery, which supports artists in pushing the boundaries of their practice without a focus on commercial value, this exhibition is laid out like a topographical landscape to encourage a contemplative state. The show curator, Jessica Judith Beckwith, says that the aim was to walk the viewer through all the stages of the artist’s process without directly pointing them out. “The Information Age is one of rapid-fire overstimulation. Our relationship to what we sense constantly competes for space and attention, robbing us of moments of stillness to experience the elements of discovery and surprise. Prives’ work draws you in, leaving space for the unexpected,” she adds.

Simona Prives, installation view

The exhibition starts with two Mylar prints, a watercolor paper print, and a small animated landscape projection. The hand-painted texture of the watercolor contrasts with the filmic Mylar, adding depth and dimension. As visitors move through the gallery, they encounter a print suspended from the ceiling on soft Japanese rice paper, invoking traditional techniques reminiscent of another time.

Simona Prives, Black Matter

Behind this work, you see the show’s centerpiece—Black Matter. At 73” W x 43” H, this print on watercolor paper is washed in the bright light of a projector. Paint slowly emerges and bursts across the right of the printed image as more of the animated image appears. Beckwith sees this work as the pinnacle of the exhibition where, for the first time, Prives brought her analog and digital processes together. “For PRACTICE, she experimented on site, animating through the projector onto areas of the print for the first time. The process was so subtle and precise that viewers stood for long stretches trying to decipher what they saw: “A print or a projection?” It was incredible! Exactly what Simona had set out to do,” says Beckwith.

Simona Prives, installation view

The exhibition culminates on the right side of the gallery with a wall-sized projection of an animated dreamscape comprising over 100 layers of Prives’s prints and includes the audio. In a far corner, an animated acrobat surprises with a twirl. This layout immerses the audience in a sensory experience of discovery. Curator Jessica Judith Beckwith sums up, “Simona Prives’ cartographies of historical time confront the viewer by questioning the environmental stability of this age, blending natural and industrial evolutions, collective memories of the distant and recent past, and concern for our global future with humor and gravity.”

Simona Prives, installation view

All photos courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Simona Prives: towards the noise of dark water at PRACTICE through April 28, 2024