contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the month / April 2018

Autorretrato (Self-portrait)
Proyecto Quarta Dimensione
Mariela Fornasari & Ainelén Bertotti Burket

Installation with serigraphy on canvas
200 cm x 150 cm x 150 cm


“Self-portrait” by Mariela Fornasari and Ainelén Bertotti Burket is an installation of five semi-transparent canvases. A black and white photo of the two sitting artists is printed on each textile, whereby the viewing position on each level is slightly changed: from a direct view to the beholder to a sideward look.

The installation is a mix between sculpture, photo and print, which invites the contemplator to be as well protagonist. To capture the oeuvre completely, it is necessary to walk around it. In doing so, new perspectives are opening constantly.

While be confronted to the outer canvases with the view to the spectator, one could feel being directly addressed. Nevertheless, due to the transparency of the fabric, the other photos are shining through. There is the impression that the portrays are fading away. The opposite effect arises from the other outer canvas where the artists are looking laterally upwards. One might feel being ignored. Observing the installation sideward, the impressions are again different. In particular, there is always one of the artist more on focus as the other and the perception of the different layers is rather simultaneous.


By installing serigraphs into space, Mariela and Ainelén are bringing the two-dimensional photos in connection with the third dimension. This reflects forms of existence of creatures and many things. In our human perception, we understand our environment as three-dimensional. Nevertheless, others and ours shadows appear two-dimensional. Due to the movement and the various perceptions of the beholder, one enters in the experience of a fourth dimension.

In physics, the fourth dimension is space-time. This “mathematical model fuses the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional continuum.” However, awareness of space-time is difficult for us, since our brain is limited to think three-dimensional. Nonetheless, when observing our environment, we interpret it at the moment of viewing.

For the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty – quoted on the artist’s website – perception functions beyond seeing and evaluating an object. He assumes a further relation between contemplator and the item:


“… regarder un objet, c’est venir l’habiter et de là saisir toutes choses selon la face qu’elles tournent vers lui.”
(Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, 1945)


“… to look at an object is to inhabit it, and from this habitation to grasp all things in terms of the aspect which they present to it.”
(Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Translated by Colin Smith, 1962)


According to Merleau-Ponty, perception includes the sensation of the observer’s body and posture and with that the individual perspective. Additionally, the background is recorded and affects the relation to the object. Regarding the installation “Self-portrait”, this implies that it depends on the physical condition of the spectator and the environment, how the artwork is perceived. A distracted or tired person might pass careless; a vigilant observer would appreciate the variety of outlooks and penetrate the different levels. Hence, it is possible to inhabit the artwork and enter into a new dimension.

The two Argentinian artists are cooperating in the “Proyecto Quarta Dimensione” (Four-dimensional project), from which “Self-portrait” is part. A similar oeuvre as our artwork of the month, is a smaller installation with photos of a dog. Moreover, there are other serigraphs on paper and textile. “Self-portrait” was presented first at the XI. Florence Biennale in October 2017 and honoured in the category “Installation” with the 5th position of the Premio Lorenzo il Magnifico.



Mariela Fornasari

Born in 1985 in Pergamino, Argentina, Mariela first started studies of psychology at the “Universidad Nacional de Rosario” (UNR – National University of Rosario). After one year, in 2005, she changed to the department of fine arts at the same institution. Since she grew up in an artistic atmosphere, due to her musically affected grandparents and an early education in drawing and ceramics, her dedication to visual arts was not surprisingly. Furthermore, she attended the “Escuela Municipal de Estética” (Municipal School of Aesthetics). Through her family’s origins, she owns the citizenship of San Marino, besides the Argentinian. To improve her Italian language skills, she participated in 2010 in the cultural exchange “Soggiorni Culturali” (Cultural Residency) supported by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of San Marino.

From 2009 to 2013 Mariela worked as assistant at the chair of engraving at the UNR, first under Roxana Celman and then under Adrián Del Grosso. Here she was awarded with the third prize of the “Salón de Pequeño Formato”. In 2013, she received the title of a National Professor of Fine Arts with the orientation of engraving. Since 2014, she is working as teacher at the high school “Instituto Superior Gral. José San Martín” in Rosario. Additionally, she is lecturer at the chair of engraving at the UNR. Besides, she gives workshops at the “Escuela de Estética” in Pergamino and at the “Sanatorio Alem” in Rosario. In 2016, she initiated a serigraphy studio at the “Moebius”, a multicultural art space in Rosario.

Together with Ainelén Bertotti Burket, Mariela founded the “Proyecto Quarta Dimensione”, to create three-dimensional installations from two-dimensional prints. Herewith the artists want to attract the observer’s perception to open it for an awareness of a fourth dimension. In 2017, the project was selected for the XI. Florence Biennale. They presented the installation “Self-portrait”, which is our current artwork of the month.

In addition to all her teaching activities, Mariela coordinates the engraving-calligraphy department of the art school “El Punte” in Rosario with Carilona Outon and an annual teaching cycle for entrepreneurial pedagogy at the high school “Escuela de Educación Secundaria Orientada N° 433 Manuel Belgrano”.


Ainelén Bertotti Burket

Born in 1994 in Venado Tuerto, Santa Fe, Argentina, Ainelén studied Fine Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario (UNR – National University of Rosario), after a childhood and adolescence characterised by an intensive musical and artistic education. She learned classical and folk dance, modelling porcelain, drawing and oil painting. At the age of 14, she joined in a singing class with Nélida Duarte de Sobrero.

When Ainelén moved for her studies to Rosario in 2012, she attended in parallel the workshop “Gouache and Glaze” with Fernando Rossia. In addition, she worked as exhibition guide at the Fundación Osde, which allowed her to approach numerous artists and historical and contemporary artworks. Also, she started to participate in numerous group exhibitions in town and was – with two cooperating artists – selected to represent the province of Santa Fe at the XX Bienal Internacional de Esculturas in Resistencia, Chaco. A year later, in 2013, the same team was chosen for the XX Bienal de Escultura in Oberá, Misiones and recognised with a “First Mention”. Her three years artistic education at the university was crowned by her first solo exhibition “Inefable” in the Casa de Buenos Aires.

In 2015, Ainelén started to work as singer and performed vocal accompaniments for various renowned musicians like Gonzalo Aloras, Willy Crook and Andres Beewsaert. In the same year, she met Mariela Fornasari in the engraving department. Together they founded the “Proyecto Quarta Dimensione”, to create three-dimensional installations from two-dimensional prints. Herewith the artists want to attract the observer’s perception to open it for an awareness of a fourth dimension.

The success of the project – and particularly the preparation for the XI. Florence Biennale – forced Ainelén to abandon the management of “Moebius”, which she founded in 2016. This is a still existing multicultural art space in Rosario, with artist workshops and contemporary art exhibitions. Nevertheless, she maintained CIERVO, her in 2016 established furniture brand, where she designs and executes for her trademark. Currently, she also conceives costumes for a film. Self-evident, she continues her personal artistic creations.