Victory over the sun, light sufficiency


Victory over the Sun is an ongoing project (started in 2015) designed by the artist Elisa Balmaceda (developed in collaboration with Celeste Rojas and Francisca Gacitua) within the “Electric Fields” series. The title is a direct reference to the Russian homonymous futuristic musical by Aleksei Kruchenykh, famous for the costumes and set design by Kazimir Malevich. In the 1923 musical, the story is focused on the robbery of the Sun by eccentric and colourful characters: it is locked up in a bucket of cement, as a celebration of the supposed energy self-sufficiency and technological progress of humans. The contemporary work of Balmaceda is composed of a video and a long exposure photo. In the video, the camera’s eye follows the path of a person walking in the Mateoriti valley, in the Atacama Desert, in Chile, along what seems to be an endless row of electricity pylons. It’s night, the subject walks slowly carrying some sort of neon tube in one hand (like a torch) that intermittently lights depending on the intensity of the intercepted electric field. The long exposure photo represents the same action, freezing the path in a band of light that stands out in the night, maybe to emphasize the sufficiency of the energy produced by humans, despite his slow inexorable depletion. Ending with the rising of the sun, this work seems ironically to reverse the futurist opera’s narrative that inspired the artist: who really wins, if the Sun ultimately stands out in the final landscape? Chiara Ciociola