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Exhibitions Comparison: Domingo Milella and Diana Thater Essay

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2020

The exhibition by Domingo Milella comprises a collection of photographs that the artist took in different countries and at different periods of time. The photographs depict ancient places of attraction that serve as reminders of the faraway part of the human history and mesmerizing natural rock formations. The objects of Milella’s photographs are portrayed within their natural environments and are intended to unify the nature, humans, and the man-made objects in the context of time. The collection contains a wide range of very different images, but it definitely has a unique and homogenous mood within it.

The exhibition by Diana Thater presents a video installation that features the footage the artist made in an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site – Galtaji Temple, situated in Jaipur, India. This is an immersive exhibition that includes a collection of images from the 18th-century architecture of the Temple with its pillars, pavilions, and multiple monkeys freely inhabiting the site. The images are projected on the walls of the gallery in order to transform the original area into the immersive space. The photographs unite the architecture, the visitors of the Temple, and monkeys living there on a regular basis.

The main focus of the exhibition by Milella is time. The photographs of his collection depict man-made monuments, locations, and sites that date thousands of years back. Many of these sites are photographed in a way that the time period when the photographs were taken is impossible to guess. The ancient monuments look eternal in the works of Milella. At times, the artist adds contemporary people to the photographs, this provides contrast between the ancient works, their magnificence, and the transient life of a human being. The monuments are the mediators of time, they look like parts of ancient mythology depicted in the period before it manifested itself (Steidl, 2014).

The exhibition of Thater is a video installation, and its main focus is to create a sense of alternative space by means of projecting a video illusion on the walls of the gallery. The images included into the installation demonstrate contrast between humans and animals living in Galtaji Temple, their different attitudes towards the site because while the monkeys climb the walls and wandering around as if they were home, humans come to the Temple for pilgrimage, they visit to worship (Brady, 2015). The artist attempts to create a feeling of virtual presence and alternative reality during the exhibition. In her review, Brady (2015) notes that some of the walls of the gallery are often not included in the installation, and the lack of images projected on them creates the feeling of “wasted canvas.”

For his exhibition, Milella chooses rather classical approach, he creates a collection of photographs. The artist’s approach allows distinct contrast between the time periods in his images when the contemporary people are added to the photographs, this creates a clash between the ancient monuments and magnificent formations and the individuals wearing modern clothing, using their devices to photograph the objects. Overall, the exhibition includes images where the contemporary time is ignored and omitted as a variable, but the addition of people as the markers of modernity to several photographs throughout the collection creates the distinct feeling of time.

Thater’s exhibition employs the latest technologies and is presented in the form of installation, willingly adopting the new movements of art. This exhibition is a combination of 18th-century architecture, eternal nature, and modern individuals. The work is multidimensional when it comes to its portrayal of time.

To compare the two exhibitions, the work by Milella is much more static than that of Thater. At the same time, both of the artists rely on the most contemporary means of digital information processing and editing. When it comes to the messages of the works – they both attempt to create a time-machine effect taking their audiences into the past. Milella does so by excluding the signs of modern civilization from some of his works, making them universal and time-piercing as the images could be depicting any moment since the creation of the monuments ages ago till today. Thater alters the perpection of its audience by means of surrounding them with the images, the artist shows that nothing is impossible, she does not bring the viewer to the Temple but brings the Temple into the gallery.

The notion of space and time in the works of Milella and Thater are distorted, stretched and bent, this is done in order to show how abstract these notions are, how time and space mainly dwell in human minds instead of their surroundings. The colors employed by artists are also very different. The work by Thater is very bright, almost surreal, its palette is diverse, and the contrast is distinct, the strong, vibrant shades were employed in order to strengthen the illusion because the projected images were to cover the original structure of the space completely to disguise and transform it unrecognizably. The colors of Milella’s photographs are calmer, sometimes the images remind of watercolors – they are opaque and flowing. Generally, Milella’s palette is very natural because the artist’s idea was to keep the original structures and appearances of the landscapes he depicted.

At times the palettes of both artists become similar, this happens due to the similar materials presented in the images of both collections – the old stone buildings of yellow and rusty shades, with multiple cracks across the rigid surfaces. The structure of the material matters a lot for both artists. For Thater, it needs to be preserved in detail for the creation of a more vivid illusion, and for Millela, the surfaces of the ancient monuments serve as canvas symbolizing the eternal time and the strength of imprint left by humans centuries ago.

I personally liked the work by Milella more than the exhibition of Thater. I believe that the use of more traditional methods of presentation creates a more harmonious merger of the present and the past. Thater’s installation and the images of 18th-century architecture incorporated into it create a time period clash. Am image as a projection loses part of its clarity and distinction. Since the artist decided to sacrifice pristine details for the sake of illusion, I conclude that the illusion was her top priority. Thater’s exhibition is excellent for the alteration of space-perception, its visual illusions and immersive images are impressive, she employs a very interesting and original approach and selects a new way to communicate shapes and colors, but Milella’s static photographs seem to have a stronger grasp on time, this is why they made a bigger impact on me and communicated their time-related message more clearly.


Brady, E 2015, . Web.

Steidl, G 2014, Domingo Milella. Web.

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