15 Dec 2016 – 31 Mar 2017
Third solo gallery show for Elisabetta Benassi (b. Rome, 1966), entitled Letargo [Hibernation/lethargy], six years after the artist’s last one-woman show at the gallery. Consisting entirely of new works conceived for the event.
A condition of physiological suspension, “hibernation/lethargy” spans a number of different meaning spaces: in animal hibernation, biological activity is reduced to a minimum in response to unfavourable climatic conditions; machines go into a kind of hibernation when they are left alone; hibernation is an accumulation of time and possibility unlocked by its extension; political hibernation or lethargy implies the suspension of judgement and the consequent peril of a changed system reawakening, shorn of its memory of the past; and, finally, aesthetic hibernation is when our perceptive faculties are slowed down to the point that reality and image, sensorial experience and imagination become confused with one another.
The result is a kind of phantasmatic reconstruction entrusted to the works on display, tending to loosen the rules through which reality is filtered and codified: rather than offering up an alternative, the artist invites us to witness a proliferation of possible “reals” defined through antithetical solutions.
Letargo is an exhibition penetrated by dualisms – sleep/wakefulness; light/dusk; nature/artifice, body|/machine – for which no synthesis is advanced. Benassi’s dualisms tend on the contrary to bring oppositions together within a single space, creating a sort of crasis of theoretically irreconcilable universes. This, for example, is the case of a reference to the “natural” world which occurs in arbitrary and misleading spaces, with architecture acting as the catalyst for separating the two parts of a single subject, rewriting both appearance and meaning and, in a de facto sense, revealing the artifice of the whole operation.
On one hand, nature is reconstructed in artificial terms; on the other, the use of machines hints at a fascination with things that are obsolete or consumed by use. Here, machines become “containers” for elements that are wholly extraneous: taken together, these associations are conceived by the artist in a state of voluntary suspension, leaving open the possibility of a reawakening which at the same time defines itself as a self-defence mechanism against time. Implicit in Letargo is an invitation for the viewer to imagine a kind of detour in a simulated spatial and temporal desert, in which we may shift gears and where – in practice – there is no such thing as a “right” direction.
Elisabetta Benassi (Rome, 1966 – lives and works in Rome) is active on the international scene since the early 2000’s. We remember her participation in the last three editions of the Venice Biennale, respectively, in 2015 (Personne et les Autres, Belgian Pavilion, curated by Katerina Gregos), in 2013 (Viceversa, Italian Pavilion, curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi) and 2011 (ILLUMInazioni | ILLUMInations, curated by Bice Curiger); among the great international exhibitions we remember the participation to Manifesta (Frankfurt, 2002) and II Berlin Biennale in 2001.
Amongst her most recent solo exhibitions: That’s Me in the Picture, Jousse Entreprise Gallery Paris (2015) Voglio fare subito una mostra, Fondazione Merz in Turin (2013); Smog in Los Angeles, CRAC Alsace (2013); Soledad, FIAC! Grand Palais, Paris (2011); Art | 40 | Unlimited, Basel (2009); and concerning the group exhibitions: Par Tibi Roma Nihil, Palatine Forum, Rome (2016); Todo o Patrimonio é Poesia curated by Filipa Oliveira, Fórum Eugénio de Almeida in Évora, Portugal (2016); SubBrixia project, ordine e disordine, produced by Brescia Museums Foundation, Brescia Mobility and the City of Brescia (2016); Industriale Immaginario, Maramotti Collection, Reggio Emilia (2015-2016); NERO SU BIANCO, curated by Robert Storr, Lyle Ashton Harris and Peter Benson Miller, American Academy in Rome (2015); Corsaro, performance realized at the exhibition Non Basta Ricordare curated by Hou Hanru, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (2014); You Can not Take It With You, Institut Culturel Italien de Paris, Paris (2014);Intenzione Manifesta. Il disegno in tutte le sue forme, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte contemporanea, Rivoli (2014); Art and Press.
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlino, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe (2012-2013); Newtopia: The State of Human Rights, curated by Katerina Gregos, Mechelen (2012); Mutatis Mutandis, Wiener Secession, Vienna, curated by Catherine David (2012); Blind Spot, curated by Catherine David, Berlin Documentary Forum 2, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2012); Tutto è connesso 2, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli (2011).
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