Giovanna’s Sybil in Second Life

Museum Island: Giovanna Cerise – Sybil

I have long been an admirer of the work of Giovanna Cerise, a 3D artist with a remarkable talent for creating both individual pieces and entire installations that are evocative, rich in narrative and which are often founded upon or intertwine (or both) themes, narratives and ideas from the physical world to present them through the lens of her imagination.

Absent for a time from Second Life, Giovanna made her return in 2020, and since then has been working on a number of projects – both new and retrospective. Two of these projects opened on July 31st, 2021, and this being the case I make no apologies for this being the first of two articles covering her work that will be appearing in these pages over the next two days.

Sybil, presented at Museum Island, offers Giovanna’s interpretation of the Cumaean Sibyl (“prophetess”), who was said to reside near Cumae, the first Greek colony to be founded on the Italian mainland (and now found within the city of Naples). Her legend became a focus of early Roman history thanks to the writings of  Virgil (via his Aeneid VI), Ovid (in his Metamorphoses) and others.

Museum Island: Giovanna Cerise – Sybil

In particular, Virgil’s tales of the Sybil (together with an anonymous author) refer to her living within an unusual cave, a trapezoidal passage over 130 metres in length cut into a hill, ending in a chamber. Here, according to Virgil, she would prophesise by “singing the fates”, then write the results on oak leaves, which she would leave at the entrance to the cave. It is this cave – or passage – which forms the core of Giovanna’s Sybil, its entrance forming the landing point, where can be found a brief introduction.

Red figures line the tunnel, mostly likely those seeking insight into their lives and future through the words of the Sybil, whilst at its centre, she awaits in her chamber, ready to offer you her cryptic advice – but be warned: the Sybil of Cumae was famous for her prophesies often having two meanings, depending on how one chose to read them…

Museum Island: Giovanna Cerise – Sybil


Across the aisle from the crypt, is a statue of the Sybil, a somewhat ghostly form – reflective, perhaps on Ovid’s tale of her fate following her trickery with Apollo (and his with her). In return for allowing him to take her virginity, she asked him to grant her as long a life as the number of sand grains she could hold in one hand – only to then deny him once the wish was granted. Apollo, on the other hand, whilst granting her extraordinary longevity, did not also give her matching youth and health – because she did not ask for either. Thus, over time she aged, withered and faded, becoming a shadow, a voice in the darkness.

Along the hall containing the shadow sculpture of the Sybil are further pieces that both directly reference the Cumaean Sibyl – Enigma, referencing the duality of her words – and indirectly – Consumption, perhaps referencing the fact that we are all eventually consumed by the passage of time, just as the Sybil was in Ovid’s tale, and Illusion, which appears to reference the illusion of time’s own permanence. Then there is Lovers, perhaps representing the preciousness of life itself, and in taking what we are offered rather than losing it or wanting something more.

Museum Island: Giovanna Cerise – Sybil

Fascinating, rich in meaning and visual, Sybil is another engaging trip into legends and tales by an artist who is superb in her ability to interpret and present.

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Giovanna’s Traces at PAC in Second Life

PAC Featured Artist: Giovanna Cerise

Giovanna Cerise is an artist whom I’ve admired for years. Her work, which spans both the virtual and the physical, is exceptional, whether seen as an individual piece, or as a complete installation.

As I recently reported, she has recently returned to artistic expression through Second Life after a hiatus of several years, opening a studio gallery at Campbell Coast – and I’m particularly honoured and delighted to announce that Giovanna is the first artist to appear at the Phoenix Artists Collaboration as a Featured Artist.

PAC Featured Artist: Giovanna Cerise

Officially opening on Saturday, February 6th, 2021 at PAC, is a special display of art Giovanna has put together, entitled Traces. It marks her first formal exhibition since her return to Second Life – although it will obviously not be her last. It  presents a mix of her work, past and present;  however, I’ll let Giovanna describe Traces in her own words:

The exhibition traces some of the stages of the artist’s production.
The proposed works were made with various techniques and testify to the evolution of his artistic career. On the ground floor there are some works made only with prim, dating back to 2010-2011 and three unpublished works: two sculptures and an installation created for this occasion.
On the upper floor, one side of the gallery is dedicated to some works made in second life, but which were then exhibited some physically others with videos in the real world. The exhibition itinerary is completed with the proposal of some more recent works which were included in installations and which cannot be reproduced here.

– Giovanna Cerise, February 2021

PAC Featured Artists Gallery: Giovanna Cerise

Spread across the two floors of the gallery, commencing with the captivating Senza Titolo (“Without Title”),  this is an exhibition that is not just to be seen, but experienced, the pieces positioned through the gallery’s spaces in such a manner as to present the feeling the visitor is moving through them as much as the gallery itself; text elements on the floor before some of them adding to this sensation.

On the upper floor of the gallery is the opportunity to witness how Giovanna’s work has been celebrated in the physical world, where she has worked alongside other Second life and Physical world arts alumni such as Patrick Moya (Moya Janus in SL).

As well as the text elements on the gallery floor spaces, pieces may also be accompanied by information givers so that visitors can learn more about them, whilst several of the individual pieces are available to purchase for those who wish to add them to their collection.

PAC Featured Artist: Giovanna Cerise

The official opening of Traces will be marked at 13:00 SLT on Saturday, February 6th, with music by our friend and colleague, Joaquin Gustav from 13:15 SLT, at the event space immediately in front of the main gallery.  please do be sure to join us.

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Giovanna: a welcome return to Second Life

Giovanna Cerise at Campbell Coast

For several years, Giovanna Cerise was a name synonymous with engaging, evocative 3D art installations within Second Life. Her work – which I took considerable delight in exploring and writing about – encompassed many ideas, themes and narratives, often drawn from the physical world as much as her own thoughts and imagination, with some offering unique interpretations of classic pieces.

It was through the latter – a re-interpretation of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, presented in 2015 – that I became utterly captivated in Giovanna’s work (although I had encountered and appreciated it prior to that installation) – and remained so throughout the time she was creating in Second Life. Marvellously capturing the essence of the classic story of Tristan, knight of Cornwall, loyal to King Mark(e), and Isolde, Irish Princess, Giovnna offered key scenes from the story, beautifully interwoven into settings that offered visitors insights into Wagner, opera, and a rich symbolism and commentary that reached beyond the original tale to make the installation truly unique of itself.

Giovanna Cerise, Tristan und Isolde, 2015

In Soul of Colours (presented in 2012 and again 2016),  Giovanna similarly presented an unfolding story inspired by Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, K620), the 2-art opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Within her installation, Giovanna allowed visitors to undertake a journey through key scenes and events from the opera, and to appreciate the music from it in a richly layered and evolving setting.

With pieces such as Monochrome, and Line, Giovanna offered explorations of themes, often simple in idea but complex and engaging in execution; unfolding tales, if you will, with Line enfolding both Giovanna’s £d and 2D art. Both of which, for a time, could be appreciated in her own gallery Last Harbour, which again was always a joy to visit.

Giovanna Cerise at Campbell Coast

All of this I mention, because several years ago, Giovanna stepped back from active arts expression in Second Life – although her presence remained on the Marketplace. However, she is now making a return to SL, and may well be resuming her role as one of the platform’s most engaging artists.

I have entered Second Life a little recently, but now I have a desire to start over. I have to organize myself and then I think about taking a land. I have some ideas in my head that I want to do.

– Giovanna Cerise to me, discussing her re-engagement in SL

While she is considering her next steps – something she and I also discussed, but I’ll not break confidences to say more here – Giovanna has taken up a modest studio gallery where she is exhibiting some of her smaller pieces. The studio can be found at the growing arts community at Campbell Coast (about which I’ll have more to say in an upcoming article), and I commend all those with a love of art in Second Life to hop over and take a look at both Giovanna’s studio and Campbell Coast as a whole – ans to keep an eye on both as 2021 unfolds.

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An artistic expression of philosophy in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery – Giovanna Cerise

Clinamen (clīnāre, to incline), is the name Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms, as a means of defending the Epicurian view of atomism. It is also the title Giovanna Cerise has chosen for her latest installation, now open at DiXmiX Gallery (you’ll find it in the The Atom club / event space within the gallery building).

Clinamen is the second recent exhibition by Giovanna which offers a philosophical lean (no pun intended), following as it does From the Worlds to the World (see here for more). It’s a piece that has broad philosophical foundations. There is Lucretius, as noted above, and the ancient philosophical science of atomism – the belief that nature consists pure of atoms and their surrounding void, and that everything that exists or occurs is the result of the atoms colliding, rebounding, and becoming entangled with one another as they travel through that void. Most notably, the piece is founded on the ideal of free will, as put forward by the Greek philosopher and science thinker, Epicurus.

DiXmiX Gallery – Giovanna Cerise

Epicurus was an atomist. However, he saw atomism as espoused by earlier thinkers such as Democritus as being to regulated. They believed atoms could only travel in straight lines. This meant that no matter how atoms struck one another or how many times they rebounded from one another, their paths were all pre-determined. Epicurus found this determinism to be too confining, as it left no room for free will. So instead, he believed the motion of some atoms could actually exhibit a “swerve” (parenklisis in Greek, clinamen in Latin), making their paths more unpredictable, thus reaffirming the role of free will.

Within her exhibition, Giovana offers a range of three-dimensional forms and structures. In the one hand, these are rigid, almost geometric in shape, offering a reflection of the deterministic element of atomism. Yet within them, edges are blurred and hard to see, while the geometry of some contain more natural, extruded forms while others have rippled, flowing surfaces. They cannot be the product of purely straight-line, deterministic flight, and so they reflect parenklisis and the more Epicurean view of atomism.

DiXmiX Gallery – Giovanna Cerise

This Epicurean view is ultimately born witness to by our own reactions to the installation. How we each chose to see and interpret / re-interpret the structures and forms presented bears witness to the exercise of our own free will.

In this way Clinamen is an intriguing play on art and philosophy; an exhibit where subjective reaction really does play an active role in perceiving the installation and the ideas on which it is founded, simply because doing so is an exercise in the application of free will.

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From the Worlds to the World in Second Life

From Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

From the Worlds to the World is a new installation by Giovanna Cerise at the R&D Gallery, Diotima, in Second Life. Occupying the entire gallery space, this is a complex installation to unravel, incorporating as it does elements of post-modernism, philosophy, logical progression, nature, geometry – whilst also, perhaps, promoting a discussion on what is the role of past and present in influencing the future.

Produced entirely in black-and-white, this is perhaps a stark piece, but there is a natural symmetry to it. Set against a black surround, the white forms within the installation are made up of geometric elements denoted by fine black lines – geometry being both a basic expression of both nature and intelligence. In all, the installation comprises three parts, perhaps analogous to the concepts of past, present and future, and which represent the evolution of intelligence.

From the Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

“The first part of the installation can be seen as an archetype of nature, now incorporated and reduced to its geometries,” Giovanna states in introducing the work. Given the overall framework of the installation, I’d venture the opinion that in this instance archetype is being used to reference Jungian archetypes – universal, archaic patterns and images from the collective unconscious which form inherited potentials, which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures – and the idea that as universal patterns within the collective unconscious, they exist as a kind of primordial suspension, without individual structure and form.

Thus, in this first second of the installation, we are confronted with a chaotic form, uneven, broken, but with its geometry holding the promise of potential, of becoming individually / culturally and collectivity more.

From the Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

From this the installation progresses through and initial shape and patterns in which human forms can be seen – a reference, it would seem to the rise of intelligence and self. A time when we shape and drive the world around us, while being both apart from it (humanity over nature?), yet wholly constrained by it – as evidenced by the shapes rising and folding out of, so to speak, the same geometric forms as seen in the initial part of the installation.

Beyond these lies the future: a place where individually no longer exists per se, and the identical reigns. A point at which intelligence has homogenised, There is no need for bodies nor the baser needs of humanity. Life has again become unified, archetypes woven together through their universality. A time has been reached where individuality or culture are no longer required. Nor is there need for dialectical discussion or reasoning; all that is required is uniformity and experiential growth and perfection of the whole.

From the Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

As a representation discussion of the evolution of intelligence, From the Worlds to the World (“worlds” and “world” perhaps again a reference from separate cultural environments and attitudes to the single, homogeneous “whole”) is – as noted – a complex piece. While it may well point to a time where dialectical discourse is no longer required, it nevertheless encourages it, just as it also promotes more philosophical consideration of our own development and growth. Are we really to rise from the “primordial” homogeneity of initial instinctual intelligence to a point where the potential of the individual (be it person or cultural) is to be only a span of time before we are once again absorbed into a single whole once again, uniform of thought and goal?

These latter elements: the opportunity for considered thought and discussion make  – for those willing to dwell on interpreting the installation – From the Worlds to the World an ideal opportunity for a shared visit.

Flash Back / Flash Forward in Second Life

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Open from Monday, May 29th through until Monday, July 31st, 2017 at Split Screen’s temporary home*, is Giovanna Cerise’s newest installation, Flash Back / Flash Forward. This is a complex piece, rooted in both the artist’s own perceptions of creativity and in the notion  – or perhaps that should be the temporal nature – of time as we generally tend to perceive it.

The core of the installation is a large, fractured structure. This seems to rise in multi-faceted tiers into the sky, but contains only a single level, reached via teleport – the large daisy at the base of the structure and a short walk from the landing point.  This level is divided into disparate rooms and corridors to present something of a maze in which none of the spaces are connected to its neighbours but must be reached by passing through the walls themselves. within some of the spaces can be found certain artefacts  –   a suitcase and oversized key, an easel, a hat and rose, images –  which we are left to interpret for ourselves.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

There is no set root through these spaces, although a list of SLurls those containing objects is supplied in the descriptive note card. Instead, visitors are encouraged to wander. In doing so, moving through the room and along the corridors becomes something of an optical experience. Scenes flicker in and out of our perception, colours flick and change – white, red, white – perspectives shift; self-awareness fluctuates as our avatars flips through different states. sometimes solid, other times an outline reflecting the shapes and images contained within walls, sometimes a shadow.

It’s a slightly confusing, perhaps disconcerting effect, heightened by the longer one walks through the installation, as images and colours and outlines flicker in and out of existence or flip from one to another before our eyes, become discrete moments in time revealed only to us in our passing. And time – as noted, is the core of things here.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Flash Back / Flash Forward is an examination of time at both the micro and the macro levels. On the micro, is an attempt to encapsulate the artist’s relationship with her work, from initial concept through development, to its completion, as seen trough the lens of time. The artist can only exist in the present, thus the development of a piece of art becomes an exercise in reflection and projection: the initial idea is reflected in the mirror of construction, which serves to project the work into the future, to its final state. There can be no viewpoint from outside the linear nature of time; no real ability of see the work as a fluid whole, from start to finish.

At the macro level, Flash Back / Flash Forward reminds us that our entire life is spent in “the present” – but “the present” is personal to each of us, an elusive, undefined space through which we each travel, sometimes overlapping with the space occupied by others. It is a space into which the past can intrude via memories which flicker, appear, vanish or even morph from point to point as our present is influenced by mood, desire, understanding, and so on. And always, the shifting nature of our present foreshadows what is yet to be, but never allows us to experience it until “the future” is our “present”.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

And so everything might be said to be chaotic, hence the form of the build and the random tumble of sights as we move through it. But within the chaos of the present are oases of calm; moments forever caught in time – and thus, the rooms Giovanna presents for us to find: The Dream; The Point of View; The Desire; The Lighteness; The Bird; The Impossible Choice.

This is a fascinating, intriguing installation, one which may require a careful reading of the supplied nots to fully grasp, but which is nevertheless beautifully executed.

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*For more on Split Screen’s situation, please read Split Screen Loses Its Home.