Twice Upon a Time in Auroville

A twin photos exhibition by Dominique Darr and Marco Saroldi

Centre d’Art Citadines, Auroville

7th to 28th September 2019

The season of the Centre d’Art – Citadines opens on Saturday, 7 September 2019, with the exhibition entitled ‘Twice upon a time’. The exhibition is the fruit of the collaboration between two photographers: Marco Saroldi and Dominique Darr. Dominique, who died in 2016, has left a unique testimony on the birth and the beginnings of Auroville. Marco has been living and working in Auroville since 2015. It was by leafing through those archives that he came up with an idea. What would happen if we took the same pictures today? What would we see? How have these places changed? And the people who unfold amidst these landscapes?

Marco then decided to talk with Dominique over time. He selected, by affinity, some photos taken by her between 1971 and 1974 and juxtaposed them to his own. There was a gap of almost 50 years between the two sets of photos. It is no coincidence that this project was born after the 50th anniversary of Auroville but, rather than a balance sheet, it is a subtle game with an underlying question.

Marco responds in a natural way to Dominique’s work, all in black and white, with the colours he has always loved. The link between the pairs of pictures is not necessarily the location where they were taken. The common factor might be an activity, an attitude, a sensation – the mysterious currents image hunters perceive, transforming their shots into the troubling places where one recognizes oneself.

Marco organizes a treasure hunt here, where he disseminates the clues. Next to one another, here is the bus taking young Aurovilians to school in 1970, and here is the abandoned red bus, which the Youth Center converted into a bank. You realize how, sometimes, the utility becomes fun, that two different sites can have similar auras, or that a site, after a few decades, has undergone a radical metamorphosis.

What this combination strongly underlines in this first phase of Auroville is, above all, the human effort concentrated solely on the organization and the construction, as well as the scarcity of means. Everything was needed. Today, what we can see is that there is room for further invention – for the seemingly superfluous, for the dream.

And then the people. If the shots of Dominique are very scarcely populated, in those of Marco you see people everywhere. And Marco, by juxtaposing Dominique’s majestically solitary urn to his own version of the urn, literally hidden behind a human wall, underlines this almost brutal change.

A reversal of perspective.

This new human density, at Auroville, narrows the immensities, erases the intimacy of history, while multiplying the possibilities.

The comparison between the two photographers is there to confirm the tendency of the artists to dig out of their territory and seek, through paradoxes and similarities with their peers, new connections yet to be invented.

                                                                                                                                                          Dominique Jacques, August 2019