Irene Fenara

2nd Prize


In the collective imagination the figure of the tiger represents a pervasive image, a powerful symbol, almost the archetype par excellence of animal and natural world and seems to be everywhere: from the logos of fashion houses to cereal boxes, on t-shirts, too.

However, there are more images in the world representing tigers than real living tigers. To learn how to recognize and reproduce images in turn, a generative algorithm would need millions of images; by proposing fewer of them, the results move significantly away from the real. Working with such an algorithm, Irene Fenara creates images of animals that arise from the union of three thousand images of tigers – the current number of living tigers – that ultimately retain only some of the original characteristics of the animal. It is not only a reflection on natural change but also on the change in the state of images: generating and reproducing remains the only way to save against natural extinction – as from digital extinction – think of file playback and how they lose quality over time and with the progress of computers and software. The formal rendering in the form of tapestries refers, then, both to the improper use of animal skins as carpets, in certain fashionable houses, and to the similar mode in which weaving and algorithm work: the texture and warp, in fact, move on the frame like the strings of code that process. In an attempt to increase the digital fauna of an endangered animal, Three Thousand Tigers reflects on the linguistic parallelism between the natural world and image production, paradoxically trying to save a species.

Irene Fenara (1990) is graduated in Sculpture and Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy. Her research explores the gesture at the basis of every photographic operation: looking. In particular she observes, investigates and interprets the way machines look. Her work has been exhibited in public and private institutions such as Fondazione Prada Osservatorio (2016), Milan; Fondazione Fotografia Modena (2017); MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (2018); Palazzo delle Esposizioni (2018), Rome; Fondazione Francesco Fabbri (2018), Pieve di Soligo (TV); Kunst Merano Arte (2019), Merano (BZ) and Villa Merkel Esslingen (2020).

PHOTO CAPTION: Irene Fenara, Three Thousand Tigers, 2020, handmade wool tapestry, 300 x 200 cm, Courtesy the artist and UNA Galleria. Photo by Marco Fava

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