The human face which we will to be beautiful, but which is at its most compelling caught somewhere between rapture and rage – Diego Ferrari’s sequence of images shows how, from the very beginning, photography has challenged the limits of our visual perception. The camera enacts a way of extending human vision, in order to depict what is invisible to the human eye, in particular the junctures between movement and stillness: the sequence, capture and evolution of time, the blurred boundary between the conscious and unconscious states of being, as presented here in a cycle of facial expressions. Every expression, every still moment may be a return to a hidden self, a pursuit of that self, running after traces, vanished.
This sequence can also be allegory for identity as a way of mapping the fragmentation of thought, into an intense pleasure of looking. The stalled uncertainty in these images is accentuated by the format: a film made of stills. These images provoke a realisation of how still the face becomes, in adulthood, in ‘ordinary society’ as we marshal our expressions and exert control over our emotions. In our desire to conform to what is an acceptable aspect of the face the face becomes blank. This work represents a re-animation of the face: Ugly-beautiful, wilful, childish, absurd, angry, confrontational presented in a headlong suite of expressions. In each frame, we see the sitter become someone not who he was in the previous frame as he cycles through contrary and contradictory expressions, although some principle of being abides. We are compelled by the sitter’s milky, almost bleached skin, his coal eyes. We are also compelled to look before we can gather strength on the journey. This is a book of transformations, but the changes are not yet finished.