Photo & Film
Melisa Onel: Ruya (Dream)
Melisa Onel alternates between video and photo at the whim of her artistic inspiration, with each tool offering a possible field of exploration. If photography is a testing ground, then video, with its inherent temporal dimension, is the exploration of a subject whose development under a time constraint defines the narrative—a time that, although later edited, imposes its share of unpredictability. It’s this dependence on the playing out of a phenomenon, a factor that stimulates the creative process, that we find in the climax of the video Ruya. In museums, the video is played in a loop, invariably repeating the story that is a metaphor for the cyclical aspect of the quotidian. Filming underwater, the camera records the progressive submersion of objects arranged on a transparent plastic tarp that is subtly perceptible in the video.
The artist plays on the ambiguity of what the spectator sees and knows. This still life on the surface of a swimming pool at first seems surreally unsinkable. Then, slowly, it responds strangely and gracefully to weightlessness and the ripples in the water until it’s lost, the transparent tarp swaying on the unstable surface. The view underwater immerses the viewer, used to the world above water, into an unknown but somehow familiar setting that comes to life with a delicate choreography. The choice of objects, restoring the elements of a table set for tea, is intentionally banal, hence the assimilation to dreams, a familiar world with blurred boundaries continually reshaped by the unconscious, and whose rhythm varies according to the influence of imperceptible stimuli. In video as in photography, Melissa Onel leaves the story open to be interpreted in a poetic visual field. This is tacit interaction that plays a fundamental role in the production.