In Julia Peirone’s work for Linköping University, we see a young girl. She has her elbows on a table and lets her head rest heavily between her clenched hands. Her face expresses a mixture of total emptiness and boredom, resignation and deep concentration. In her mouth she has a pencil, the point of which has left a thin grey trace on an otherwise blank sheet of paper. Her eyes are wide open, star ing straight at us, but at the same time mute, appearing not to register the surroundings. No, she is not watching us. She may not even see us. Her gaze seems almost to have wandered off with an inner thought and is somewhere completely different, far away. If we follow the direction of her gaze, it takes us straight across the room, slightly upwards, towards a sheet of paper that seems to have been blown off or thrown off the girl’s desk. A white sheet that has got caught in a balcony railing on the second floor.
Like one of Julia Peirone’s earlier series of photos – Night Spots – the subject is enveloped by an opaque darkness that obscures all but a few details around the girl. It also enhances her appearance of having sailed away mentally beyond the confines of our here and now, to wider albeit more diffuse waters. Waters that can bring her at any moment to an entirely new lucid insight- not to say an intellectual breakthrough. But its elusive nature means that it could be thrown off course by the slightest sound or movement. In such a place, a vague thought can collide at any time with a clearer and thus more dominating thought – a thought that is moving faster in another direction. When this happens, the girl will be back with us in a split second.