Anthony Giannini’s solo exhibition, Crossing the Line, at Walter Otero Contemporary Art explores relationships linking language, non-verbal modes of communication, space and power.
Giannini approaches these issues by working with images recorded in times of conflict alongside a digital archive documenting a nautical initiation rite, the line-crossing ceremony, which marks a sailor’s first passage across the equator. This international folk tradition, dating back to the 16th century, signals a transition from a familiar world to a new mythological zone with a baptismal villainization. During the 1990’s, unregulated hazing within the U.S. Navy, including abuse, torture and death, created public backlash against the ritual.
Giannini’s paintings use the line-crossing ceremony as a point of departure for examining larger themes such as the interweaving of social convention and military might, and the use of interrogation to control dissidence.
They invite the viewer to linger in the space of uncertainty where doubt corrodes trust in official institutions, where language turns into sinister doublespeak, and where boundaries, once imagined as solid, dissolve before our eyes.