A woman reclines romantically, surrounded by staged, sumptuous interiors, her body mimicking the oriental beauty in the painting La Grande Odalisque, her face, covered by a big metal pot.
In her intriguing and amusing series Villa Argentina, Arunà Canevascini, shows us the intimate realm of the home in Switzerland she grew up in, inviting the viewer into her and her mother’s bizarre and exotic universe, worlds away from the expected bland domestic life. The Swiss artist’s work is riddled with a sense of play and mystery and she brings forth this character with the unexplained use of Argentina in the title, perhaps intending to tease and confuse the viewer.
Photographs of strange objects and playthings appear to be concoctions from an imaginary world, an empathetic reference to her muse, her Iranian mother, whose isolation Canevascini addresses through the series. Although the story is woven around her mother, it is a story of their world together, and as individuals. Referring to Iranian culture as a ‘distant echo’, she coveys the disconnect to her roots by photographing familiar objects in unfamiliar settings.
Villa Argentina is a conceptually rich work that is a memoir, a confession, satire, and a blend of several stories, that leaves the viewer curious and conscious about its many layers.