This Italian-born artist’s scrappy, cumulative mode—makeshift installation incorporating tacky fabric, fake flowers, toy trains, plastic toys, snapshots, glitter, hair, whatever—is more than familiar, but in her first show ever, Anna Galtarossa takes it beyond the point of no return. City (Anna)—which she worked on every day for three years—is a real mindblower. “A landscape traversed by a city,” states the press release. “Some kind of self-analysis,” says the artist.
A whole world of silly and serious bits and pieces encircled by a train track, it perches on a low platform. The unstable terrain teems with sweetly nasty details: stacked-box tenements, gold-foil coins, squid-carrot daggers, swan boat, pterodactyl, tombstone, fighter plane. A glitter-dust cosmos provides backup on the walls, with pasted-on planets, a hair-curler meteor, and one puffy cotton cloud that sends forth—as in any worthy Last Judgment—a protruding plastic hand. The train’s precarious freight? A big wobbly pink high-rise tower. While you wonder if the artist meant it to be a twin tower (she didn’t), the caboose—a skull swathed in pearls—skitters past, evoking the grand scheme of life and death as well as our post-traumatic anxieties. If you get too engrossed, you risk getting punched in the nose by the pink tower’s yellow glob sun or a silver foil bell when the train rounds a corner.
Don’t miss her second installation, titled Mamma. A cushioned trolley takes you into its dark womb-like tunneling interior, past big pink knitted stalagmites. Hung with tiny planes, wiggly lights, twinkling stars, and headless doves (like intergalactic satellites); strewn with butterflies and undersea creatures; and presided over by an owl in a diver’s mask, it’s an enveloping fantasy—both heaven and hell—that culminates in the proverbial tropical island: tiny, idyllic, and ringed with shipwrecks. “In City,” says Galtarossa, “I found a place I want to explore. In the tunnel, I want to take you there.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 21, 2004