In 1986 Raffaela Mariniello (Naples, 1961) has a solo show at Villa Pignatelli in Naples, where she begins to address her research toward social and cultural themes in which the black and white landscape becomes characteristic of her work. In 1991 she creates the cycle Bagnoli, una fabbrica, where industrial landscapes at dusk, filtered by the artificial light that crosses the chemical soot, bring forward a dimension of surreal suspension between the natural and the man-made.
In 1995 she shows Moltitudini at Studio Trisorio, followed by Natura morta in 1998: in these installations the artist associates the specific reference to the photographic technique to an openness to other languages, heralding the distance she will take from traditional photography. In 2001, at Castel Nuovo in Naples, she presents the cycle Napoli veduta immaginaria, urban views taken as the sun sets, in which the artist combines the urban landscape with the nature that seems to be slipped in, and creates a contradiction. By using long exposure times the photographs reveal metaphysical places, often marked by the presence of reflecting water, thus increasing the cold, leaden-like tonality in which the artist, thanks to the use of a flash, tends to delete certain details in order to accentuate or evoke others.
On the occasion of Daniel Buren’s in situ work for Arin in Ponticelli, promoted by Incontri Internazionali d’Arte, in 2004 Mariniello produces a photographic catalogue that alludes to the French artist’s intervention, while in 2005 her work involves the city of Cardiff, which she shows in Wales along with photographs of Mediterranean cities: dilapidated port areas and urban agglomerates in which the artist contrasts the close up with the background, light with dark, nature with industry, movement with stillness.
With the video installation Over and Over, presented in 2005 at Studio Trisorio, Mariniello delves into the combination between photographic language and video language, without narrative interventions, but rather aimed at developing research in which the photographic image becomes a frame, thus slowing down the passing of time, arresting the dynamism imposed by the video. From 2006 to 2011 Mariniello works on Souvenirs d’Italie, a series of color postcards based on pictures taken in Italy’s piazzas, in artistic cities or in picturesque locations, from which emerge the magnificent contradictions of the playful, childlike, luminiscent dimension of contemporaneity.
In 2013 Mariniello realizes a new photographic series about Bagnoli; this is followed by the video Still in Life, 2014, which the artist donated to the museum collection. This work takes its shape and its contents from the ashes of Città della Scienza, which was destroyed by arson on the night of March 4, 2013. By stopping on the surreal details of distorted forms that still show a trace of their original function or shape, the video gradually searches the ruins of this large cultural complex and meeting place for an entire community; through the undulating yet rigorous movements of the camera, and the slow and contemplative montage, the artist creates a process of sublimation with respect to the context of the destruction. Expressive choices meant as the creative and aesthetic gesture of the redemption and invocation of an opportunity for rebirth.
Olga Scotto di Vettimo