Texts The Disquieting Muses

Tonino Sicoli, 1990

The female artist of our time, on the other hand, does not tell herself, but engages with the fascinating adventure of language. In the current artistic production the female condition is reflected as in a mocking mirror, which sometimes deforms its own tics and taboos, which returns the image in an amused self-irony.

However - writes Laura Cottingham - the power of irony has not been absolutely co-opted: situated in a self-conscious context, it still possesses the effective ability to discover the false, to mimic the obvious. To avoid failure, any use of irony in today's pan-ironic temperament must necessarily keep its direction and ignore the easy charm of total disillusionment.3 The private no longer occupies a prominent place, but neither does it accurately. avoided. It is no longer the romantic dreams and myths of our grandmothers that populate the fantasy universe of modern Alice, but the consumer myths and dreams induced by advertising. But the Italian artists, unlike what happens in America where the production is more characterized in terms of post-pop taste, go beyond an ironic detachment from the myths of! their time and take on research ideas shifted to the side of planning.

More than feminine themes there seem to be points of view and, more than anything else, ways of "speaking" the language of images. An aesthetic concern, so to speak, characterizes Italian production in recent years, with concessions to signs and symbols which, going beyond banality, constitute an often aniconic imagerie. The experimentation of new expressive techniques, imaginative modalities and new codes holds the field in this phase of the artistic research of women. Shunning the representation of the obvious, structural analysis is preferred. Value is not the reproduction of reality, but the allusion to it and the short circuit with its appearance. Even self-awareness, awareness of one's own identity take on more physical values, through behaviors and the attitude of one's body in an idea of a person as a psychophysical unit. The body itself, now freed from taboos, is the place of language and design.

In the wake of the performances of Marina Abramovic, Gina Pane and Ketty La Rocca in the seventies, attention to the body as a vector of communication is not lacking in today's production. And the affirmation of one's own subjectivity, of one's being in time and space. No longer identifiable as "weaker sex", women also try their hand at art forms, such as sculpture,

which were once thought to require strength and physical endurance. The fascination of the materials seems to be, together with the mental datum and critical awareness, the peculiar element of this phase of female artistic research, which not by chance largely embraces the trend of the new objectuality. And the data that emerges from this review, which aims to be a significant repertoire, but deliberately partial in terms of the number of appearances and the critical slant, of that part of artistic research practiced by women in recent years. The exhibition, perhaps a bit displaced with respect to the prejudicial expectations of the public, includes twenty-two female artists but could very well have been proposed even without connotations of sex.

A widespread attention to materials can be seen in many artists today who work both ductile materials such as clay (this is the case of Annie Ratti and Renza Sciutto) and wood (Gisella Meo), and hard materials such as marble (Mirella Bentivoglio ), stone (Maria Dompè) or metals (Cloti Ricciardi). The experience of these workers goes beyond painting even when the wall work is preferred, so to speak, and the two-dimensionality maintained (Adele L'Abbate). Even canvas or paper (Anna Romanello), traditional supports of painting, make signs with their own expressive value linked to the material.

A "cold" design rigor often oversees these works that are increasingly connoted as objects and installations; on the other hand, a dialectical use of materials “warms” these structures which combine in a subtle balance organicity and rationality, nature and artifice. The same new technologies, such as electronics, become intriguing tools for aesthetic communication and the search for an entirely soft creativity (Silvia Destito, Ida Gerosa, Matilde Tortora ": Some artists already on the scene in the 1960s and 1970s (Mirella Bentivoglio, Valentina Berardinone, Tomaso Binga, Dadamaino, Gisella Meo, Elisa Montessori, Carmengloria Morales), shying away from closures within their own history, have developed in these eighties lines of continuity and convergence with the new generations of artists. today an advanced research that develops a certain geometric abstractionism and informal poetics towards neo-abstract tendencies (Dadamaino, Franca Sonnnino), painting-sculpture (Tomaso Binga), sign-minimalist (Francesca Borgia, Patrizia Molinari, Elisa Montessori), material-informal (Carmengloria Morales), of poor objectuality (Elisabet Frolet, Franca Maranò). The works are increasingly the result of pr processes of shape reduction and structural analysis (Annibel-Cunoldi, Cloti Ricciardi); the synthesis takes place towards levels of minimum subjectivity but of maximum rationality and absolute poetry. The same search for original forms can be traced back to that existential need for primary elements today felt by many artists, whether they are men or women.

Once the historical memory has been regained, the crude stereotypes of pseudo-feminine culture have been demolished, socio-political relations have been calmed, the only discriminating factor for female artists, as for their male colleagues, is through the trends, according to variations of research and along the highways of quality. Therefore, there is not even the risk of female / male homologation, with the suspicions of yet another male-dominated annexation, since art - whether it is practiced by women or by men - is never homologating, but constantly eccentric with respect to current models. There is no "other" art, an expression of subordination, as all art is always placed "elsewhere".

What Lea Vergine called “The other half of the Avant-garde” continues to exert an authentically “revolutionary and non-revolting” force, which is still innovating. And the real revolution, in art as in life, is that which, after having fought "outside" for the recognition of status, is able to trigger above all processes of "internal" change, in a permanent questioning of itself and of the his project, in the awareness that there are no definitive goals, but important stages of a long journey that humanity - without discrimination of sex, but also of class, race, religion and ideology - must complete all together.