Fragile is a project about the bizarre and intangible emotions and realities below the surface, inner conflicts and the contrariness of our personality. Nobody has only one face, every person has a variety of faces, emotions and identities which are constantly changing. The pictures were created by the interaction of photography, water, light and colour like identities or emotions which result also from different interactions and processes.
A star explodes. A bomb is detonated. One might be light years away while the other just a few miles. In both, solid matter is reconfigured into dust, previous identities are erased and reshaped. Being fragile in a fluid, shape-shifting world is an inevitable state of existence, a state that Gundula Blumi seems keen to explore.
When navigating identity, the ubiquity of the female body is not surprising but rather symptomatic of the on-going conflict with immanence. Many have absorbed the Francesca Woodman echo, with distinct ramifications, such as photographer Rita Lino in her series of lo-fi self-portraits, in the spirit of Catherine Breillat’s Anatomy of Hell, where unwatchable moments are recorded and amplified by the surrounding landscape, which is usually an interior, personal space or, more cryptically, Isabelle Wenzel in Building Images or Color Cocktail, by constructing performing simulations where identity becomes occult and the body a tool working against itself in a sadomasochistic manner, trapped in an intermediate state of bio and artifice, a sculpture that instead of integrating the staged scenario rather disrupts it.
Fragile shares this interest for the performing body but in an opposing direction of Wenzel as the human figure simply belongs; no conflict seems to occur, its voyeurism is also less allowing than Lino’s or Woodman’s. If Blumi’s photographs are self-portraits incarnated in the same body, several bodies, or not self-portraits at all, remains undisclosed. In its blurriness, the possibility to nominate the figure remains, as the depiction of femininity is super-categorical, a precisely targeted abstraction. Like an organism, the series is surrounded by water and also created by it, but instead of sticking with the geometrical tradition of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes, Fragile’s relationship with the liquid of life seems convoluted. Humanized by the omnipresence of a vulnerable figure, it references the erotic experience which is, as already deconstructed by Simone de Beauvoir, the moment in which human beings are most confronted with the ambiguity of their condition. Both flesh and consciousness. Both subject and the other.
From dust we came, to dust we go. Like an amoeba, the images hunt for evolution, a new state of existence that is yet to be revealed. And perhaps it is the quest for becoming, to no longer be solely attached to the perpetuation of the species and the inner space - to immanence - that catalyses the urge to transcend these limits, to burst frail paradigms, allowing to take over what already exists without losing sight of what else is yet to be conquered.
Written by: Patrícia Bandeira