Grossi Maglioni: THE CAVE

Italiano (Italian)

*Featured photo: Grossi Maglioni, Occupazioni: The Cave, 2021, installation view, ropes, stones, textiles, variable dimensions. Photo Martin Marenčin. Courtesy Kunsthalle Bratislava

MAC Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Lissone
11 December 2021 – 29 January 2022

Curated by Francesca Guerisoli
Opening and talk Saturday 11 December, 6 pm
039 2145174 – 039 7397202

On Saturday 11 December, the MAC Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Lissone will present the The Cave (2021) an installation by the duo Grossi Maglioni (Francesca Grossi and Vera Maglioni), curated by the MAC’s artistic director Francesca Guerisoli. This is the first time The Cave has been exhibited in Italy, having previously been shown in Bratislava and Graz. The exhibition’s opening will include a talk led by Francesca Grossi and Vera Maglioni in dialogue with Francesca Guerisoli. The artists will illustrate the research project “Beast Mother”, supported by the 10th Edition of the Italian Council, a General Directorate for Contemporary Creativity’s programme of the Ministry of Culture to promote Italian art worldwide.

The Cave focuses on the pair of mother and son/daughter.

The work consists of an environment made up of three large sheets and a fabric plateau (carpet) forming a tent dedicated to the nativity. The environment presents a shelter for care, an archetype of a home, defining one of society’s constitutive needs: the necessity of a home. It is a welcoming shelter, redefined as a mobile, nomadic space shared with a community. The interiors are dark, suggesting an intimate space of encounter and the beginning of a story that starts from birth.

Grossi Maglioni explores the condition of being a woman, mother and artist in today’s precarious and unequal society, developing a dialogue with groups of mothers and children during a series of meetings and workshops that have resulted in the publication “Occupazioni. The perpetual dialogue” (2021).

Since 2014, the duo has associated with this practice work on mobile housing, exploring the relationship between portable architecture and the needs of small communities in urban and natural environments. In this research context, of which The Cave is a component, develops the story whose protagonist is a “Mother Beast”. In the present situation, where the Covid-19 pandemic forces children and their parents to spend more time together than usual, it is crucial to strengthen the ability to form strong bonds of solidarity, survive mutual proximity, and create tools to deal successfully with critical situations.

The staging of The Cave at MAC is an opportunity to present the Beast Mother research project, which examines motherhood and the relationship of care with its transformative potential and it is funded by the 10th Edition of the Italian Council as part of the “Grant for the support of artists’, curators’ and critics’ research”.

This research stems from multiple lines of thought: post-feminist and anthropological discourse, psychoanalytic writing, science fiction literature and cinema, theoretical analysis, and the direct experience of motherhood and the artists’ interaction with a group of mothers and children. The project investigates motherhood as a moment of women’s self-representation and the transformative potential of care relations through field research and art and philosophical thought tools.

Moving from an ancient past, Grossi Maglioni studies the work of Lithuanian-born archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, who has focused on female’s creativity and prehistoric fertility depictions linked to the cult of the Great Goddess, where the feminine body blends with vegetable and zoomorphic elements. The research is driven by an in-depth dialogue with the thought of Donna Haraway with “The Promises of Monsters”, Rosi Braidotti with “Mothers, Monsters and Machines” and the imagery of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction trilogy “Xenogenesis”, which leads us from a prehistoric iconography to a post-human future. The subject matter is as delicate as it is urgent: the themes of care are combined with those of the mother’s representation, thus exposing taboos and conflicts and fertile poetic possibilities for a different understanding of the women’s role in society. Between November 2021 and April 2022, Grossi Maglioni’s research will collaborate with a network of international partners, boosted and expanded thanks to the support of the X Edition of the Italian Council. Grossi Maglioni’s research will involve academics and will be developed through talks and workshops at the Kaunas Biennale, the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, the < rotor > Centre for Contemporary Art in Graz, AlbumArte and MAXXI in Rome.

This event is part of the XVII Edition of the Giornata del Contemporaneo organized by AMACI – Associazione dei Musei d’Arte Contemporanea Italiani and supported by the Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea del MiC – Ministero della Cultura.

Grossi Maglioni, Occupazioni: The Cave, 2021, dettaglio dell’opera, tessuti, cm 260 x 260. Foto Martin Marenčin. Courtesy Grossi Maglioni


Grossi Maglioni (Francesca Grossi and Vera Maglioni, *1982, Rome) started their collaboration in 2006 and based their research on performance, installation and workshop.

Performance, in their practice, often combines with the production of objects and manipulable installations hosting workshops, meetings and public events.

The investigation of various issues related to society and subjectivity combines artistic research methods with those of anthropology and education, focusing on the production of long-term projects dealing with politically controversial topics.

The duo most recent works address the relationship with the other, particularly the relationship between two people, and investigate images and the representation of gestures.

In the spring of 2020, when the pandemic broke loose, Grossi Maglioni began a process of discussion and reflection on the problems linked to care and motherhood by writing an open letter in collaboration with the artist Sara Basta “Siamo noi le vere mostre!” on the condition of mother artists in Italy. The aim was to draw attention to the gender gap affecting women artists, strongly perceived in daily life.

As a duo, Grossi Maglioni began working on this theme when Francesca Grossi had her first daughter, Bianca, in 2015. Since then, they have built nests and shelters within their installations to tend to their children. Subsequently, the artists had other pregnancies. They began to work on body transformation through costumes and photographs to clarify how the establishment of a relation of care can lead a woman’s body and mind to expand and change even in fantastic and terrifying ways.

In 2017, for the exhibition “Campo Grossi Maglioni” held at AlbumArte, Rome, they developed the first arrangement of a Tent of Care, which triggered a new performative and participatory work involving mothers and children. In 2018, during a workshop at the “Magic Carpets” residency in Serbia, they engaged in dialogue with a group of women to develop a narrative with a “mother beast” as its leading character.

During the meeting, stories related to Serbian culture emerged. For example, the narration around the mother was accompanied by the war, conveying a heroic image devoted to the homeland, which is totally different from the image of an animal-like woman with lethal or seductive features that the artists had previously presented.

Grossi Maglioni’s works have been exhibited in galleries, museums and academic institutions, including Kaunas Picture Gallery, Kaunas; < rotor > centre for contemporary art, Graz; Kunsthalle Bratislava; Academy of Hungary, Rome; Novo Kulturno Naselje, Novi Sad; Istituto Svizzero, Rome; AlbumArte, Rome; American Academy, Rome; Viafarini, Milan; MACRO, Rome; Verkstad for konst, Norrköping; ERBA Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts, Besançon; Konstall Museum, Vasa.

They have participated in numerous residencies, including Magic Carpets Residency, Novi Sad; Rupextre, residency for artists and anthropologists, Matera; Svenska konstskolan, Nykarleby.

From 2008 to 2014, the duo has been part of the international research platform for performing arts, science and technology Vision Forum, based in Sweden.