I have been fortunate to follow a large part of Milena Carbone’s artistic journey in Second Life. Since her first major exhibition of work I visited (Agape, February 2020), Milena has repeatedly demonstrated the inherent power of art to challenge, to question, to offer statements on life, politics religion and self, to engage and to provoke.
Her work has tackled subjects as diverse as the nature of reality, self-perception and the realities (or otherwise) of “god”; it has plumbed the depths of our humanity (and inhumanity), of identify and self, and even navigated the waters of quantum field theory and the Casmir effect.
Thus, whilst offering a retrospective of her work after just three years of exhibiting it in Second Life might be seen as something of an exercise in ego, it is not (for one thing, I know Milena is far too self-aware to allow her ego to get in the way of things). Rather, it is a chance for those who have not had the ability to observe the evolution of her work and explore her ideas and thoughts on life, human nature, reality and self, to do so by acquainting themselves with piece from her catalogue of work to date, and to consider the paradigms she explores and presents. Equally, for Milena, it is an opportunity to revisit her work from earlier times and consider it under the light of her current thinking and world-view.Hence why, in receiving the invitation from Hermes Kondor to mount a retrospective of her work within the Art Square of his arts hub, Milena opted to title the exhibition Introspective, and frame it around a central commentary and three questions. The latter initially appear to be offered as a means to help frame her continued presence within SL; however, they actually reach much further than this.
Within all three resides both a cry oft heard down the ages, and also a challenge to us all in the here and now: why, really, are we here; what purpose do we serve? When are we finally going to put pettiness and anger and hate behind us and truly learn acceptance of one another and embrace love for one another? When will we, quite frankly, cease the shouting din of childish behaviours and grow up as a species?
Around the introductory boards (which on their reverse sides offer copies of the books Milena has produced in reference to some of her exhibitions, thus offering further insight and means of retrospection) and against the edges of the square are pieces taken from Milena’s exhibitions. These start in the north-east corner of the square and proceed south and then around to the north-west corner, arranged in chronological order. Each is presented with text either from the exhibition itself, or designed to offer a framing for it – text which also, for those willing to read, muse and reflect, offering further reverberations of the core questions Milena asks.
These images, in and of themselves, also allow us to travel through Milena’s growth in both experimentation and in confidence with her ability to use the tools at her disposal to represent her art and her thoughts and in allowing her inner voices to speak in unison and / or equally.
Introspective is an exhibition that can be appreciated purely visually; however, its full richness comes in taking the artist’s hand and walking through her words and thoughts in reflection of the images and the introduction.