In 2015 she was among the selected artists for Plat(form), Winterthur Museum, Winterthur (CH).
Because so much critical discussion of the medium inevitably centres on self-consciously artistic outcomes, the multiple uses of photography tend to go at least somewhat under the radar of theoretical scrutiny. One solution, of course, is to bring these apparently distinct spheres together in some way and that is precisely what Teresa Giannico does in her series Lay Out. Specifically, her source material is the functional, even utilitarian aspect of photography that finds it serving a variety of purposes, usually descriptive. There are now probably many thousands of photographs made to sell or rent property, but we donâ€™t usually think of this visual material in photographic terms, it functions as a proof in addition to whatever other written or verbal description that might be attached to it. The style of these humble, overlooked â€˜documentsâ€™ serve as the starting point for Giannicoâ€™s work.
The effect is, in the first instance, to re-insert this functional mode of photographic production back into the aesthetic sphere â€“ not because the images sheâ€™s drawing on are visually interesting (and theyâ€™re not), but because they are based on specific conventions or codes that determine how they are read and sheâ€™s attempting to make those â€˜codesâ€™ legible as a visual style, a vocabulary. At the same time, she takes a step away for dealing with the actual photographs to re-create them as paper dioramas, miniature scenes constructed to be photographed that emulate the style of her source material â€“ and even incorporates it â€“ but which obviously functions in a very different way. In fact, she distances her own constructed images from the source material precisely in order to remind the viewer that even the most seemingly functional images are indeed constructions, albeit of a less literal sort.
The functionality of these pictures â€“ and the coded depictions that they operate by â€“ stem from a set of assumptions about property itself, about what can be had by whom and where. Photographs like this make use of visual codes in order to sell a specific kind of life â€“ and to suggest that you, as the potential buyer, for example â€“ could be the person living this life. More prosaically, to a market of renters, they suggest that the minimum of what one needs is indeed available. In that sense then, Giannicoâ€™s constructed pictures are an inventory of lifestyles and modes of living, which are not exactly unique, but that do seem largely characteristic of this particular moment in history, one defined by endemic economic uncertainty and property market chaos. It is perhaps in light of this that Giannicoâ€™s work makes the most sense.
However, all of this still hinges on the status of these pictures as pictures, that is, as coded depictions, illustrating a particular type of image-making â€“ and a particular type of subject. What the work points to, then, is the intersection of social or cultural values (what we might, for want of a better word, call ideology) with the practices of representation. By breaking up the functional seamlessness of these pictures, by (re)constructing them in such a visible, even exaggerated manner, what Giannico reveals is not just their stylistic construction â€“ although that is apparent as well, but also their, as it were, ideological construction and the fact that this is inseparable from the materiality of the pictures, from the imagined spaces that they create, as well as those that they ostensibly represent. The paradox of this work is that it describes â€˜realâ€™ spaces that donâ€™t actually exist.