- Featured photo: Patera e Sbra Perego – Clara Luiselli. Ph credit A.Sbra Perego
As early as the early 1960s, in his Religion and the Future, Sergio Quinzio “A word that could easily be erased from our vocabularies, without any of our current concepts being inexpressible for it, is the word sacred.” Precisely from this term and the meaning it takes on in the contemporary world, F’Art Spazio per le Arti Visive Contemporanee di L’Aquila has promoted Luco, an international exhibition spread across several venues in the Abruzzo capital, sponsored by the city. Among the works of the twenty-three selected artists are several works that can be traced back to textile techniques and materials set up in the different exhibition spaces.
The path unfolds starting from the courtyard of Palazzo Lucentini Bonanni, a historic building dating back to the last years of the 16th century, invaded by Ombra pericolosa, Carla Crosio‘s monumental installation made of recycled plastic woven and sewn on metal mesh. A somber wave generated by the withering consciousness of this time made up of men who know no limit other than themselves, the sum of the dark forces that are rampant, which gradually squeeze the entire planet in a deadly embrace insinuating themselves between man and his fellow man and between this and other species and the earth itself. Yet, with a reversal of perspective, by changing the point of view, the work appears rather to retreat under the rush of light. The viewer is thus confronted with a struggle in the making between opposing forces vying for our time, between the good and bad conscience of the world. The installation will undergo successive rearrangements that will change its size and position to evoke the alternating fortunes of this clash, the unpredicted outcome of which depends largely on man.
Continuing along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, at the Galleria Italia, attached to the former Albergo Italia and the celebrated Sala Baiocco, which experienced their heyday at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Lucia Bubilda Nanni‘s large veils, designed/embroidered directly with a mechanical sewing machine and inspired by Teresa D’Avila and her confessor Giovanni Della Croce reinterpreted in a contemporary key, welcome the viewer. The work is part of a larger project begun in 2017 – Isteria e Misticismo in sette Annotazioni, ovvero cinque donne, un uomo e una poesia – in which the artist investigates the mystical experience of figures from the past in a contemporary parallel. After thoroughly studying their exemplary lives, in fact, Nanni sought to locate their traces in the present day by restoring their bodily presence in men and women he met and intuitively chose to test the conditions of possibility of mystical experience by asking what does the latter mean in our time – a choice, a disease, an exercise, a belief?
This is followed by Clara Luiselli‘s installation, Spazi per corpi in attesa della trasformazione, more than twenty metal supports on which sheets of opaline paper are suspended and joined by a red thread and magnets, on which are traced minimal forms of bodies taken from works of art from the past, deprived of their original context and background, floating in an empty space, seeming to be waiting for new opportunities to understand everything that cannot be explained. Three drawings were made especially for this exhibition and taken from as many works housed in churches in the city.
In the same room, Federica Patera and Andrea Sbra Perego‘s tunnel of words, L’attenzione più quieta e lungimirante, an installation in the Roots series that investigates the link between the sacred and justice. Specifically, the title refers to one of the many verbal roots that describe its often ambiguous and elusive relational nexus, giving rise to some four hundred words.
Crossing it leads to the second room where Three weavers, an installation by Anneke Klein, is set up. The Dutch artist investigates through art the sense of eternity, here in an interplay of echoes and specular reversals, with an installation of three anthropomorphic elements inspired by a cycle of works by Van Gogh that portrayed numerous rural weavers. Almost a century and a half later, Klein reworks the atmosphere and meaning of those works, ideally completing those weavings by giving form to three figures that transit before our 21st-century eyes, continuing a journey that began elsewhere and will lead elsewhere. Art therefore makes us participants and conscious of that eternity.
It dialogues in the same space with Michela Cavagna‘s work, The dressed emptiness, made with cashmere and wool spun yarns, part of the artist’s research that began in 2022 with Shaman/Shaman , a body of work in which she investigates the profound meaning of the invisible, of those intangible and indefinable aspects whose presence is perceived in the voids generated by an everyday life that leaves no time or space for reflection, for listening to emotions, feelings, fears, relegating to the shadows all that cannot be deciphered with rationality. From the encounter between chaos and rules comes the balance between fullness and emptiness; the knot or, better, the tangle, with its perpetual movement that has neither beginning nor end represents for the ‘artist the perfect synthesis between the first and the second, in an interconnection that has no solution of continuity and that therefore recognizes one and the other as essential parts, equal and different, of the same element.
In the third room are the two installations dedicated to the inner dimension and prayer: Catartica, by Giulia Spernazza, an installation that evokes a path of transformation expressed through color, matter and its spiritual connotation – a circle, a shape symbolically associated with transcendence, inside a square, a figure representing the earth and which was used in ancient times as a module of sacred places (temple); and Donatella Giagnacovo‘s Muta preghiera an installation composed of three elements – wrappings of raw linen cloth woven on a mechanical loom circa 1960s – uncertain bodies, ghosts freed of the certainty of their own tangible consistency or identity, portraits of the ultimate essence of their own humanity, offering themselves to the viewer in absolute silence, devoid of the echo of requests, invocations, thanks. It is, theirs, a restorative surrender, independent of devotion, which becomes a secular prayer, mute, yet still and always a consoling refuge from our frailties.
Finally, it is in the spaces of F’Art Contemporary Visual Arts, a few steps from the Cathedral, that the exhibition concludes with the works of fifteen artists from different backgrounds and geographical areas. Here the works of Jacobo Alonso, with Soma, a sculpture in laser-cut and hand-sewn felt modules, investigates the sacredness of the body; Elizabeth Aro whose O silencio, a book in embroidered cotton sheets, explores the spiritual depth of silence; Pietrina Atzori who, with Nigra sum sed formosa, restores in a modular installation the path of research through the cult of black Madonnas in southern Italy. And, again, Cenzo Cocca‘s stitched paper masks, which allude to an ancestral memory that becomes individual experience, between past and future, between tradition and spirituality; Barbara D’Antuono‘s embroidered works on canvas that question the ability or possibility of contemporary man to have faith in a world in which we are constantly inundated with often contradictory information and images, in which reality has become elusive and all value systems have been unhinged and disrupted; the Nuntius Dei from the stitched eyes of Magdalena Fermina, who before the image of an angel wonders if we still have memory and awareness of its original meaning and whether, like other symbols we abuse, it is not now just a decorative element without content.
Evoking angels-particularly those from the first of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Elegie duinesi – the fabric and twisted iron wings of Monica Giovinazzi, whose research explores the restlessness of man confronting his own fragility, the fleetingness of the moment, the impermanence of his own existence, and the precariousness of the substance of which life itself is made. Florencia Martinez with her Pietà continues with this work the exploration of the nature of relationships finally arriving at the spiritual sphere, inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini representation of the absoluteness of empathy that merges mother and child in the same pain, in a single body in an abandonment in which the Argentine artist identifies the perfection of entrusting oneself, the most sacred, the most spiritual of possible relationships, the overcoming of fear that is man’s victory over his own loneliness. Miriam Medrez with the two works in the series Sueños fugaces reconnects the elements of her poetics to an archaic memory that resurfaces sometimes fleetingly in the unconscious state of sleep.
An ancestral connection to the earth, invisible threads that keep us in tune with the planet’s energy, the rhythm of the moon’s phases, and the forces that govern nature. Inspired by mythological cosmology, Sette Cieli is an installation of threads, knots and weavings by Saba Najafi: a work that pertains to as many levels or divisions of the heavens, a concept already present in ancient Mesopotamian religions and found in similar forms in many religions. Pathos, on the other hand, is Giulia Nelli‘s work made with pantyhose-the artist’s material of choice-that is inspired by the moment of Christ’s deposition from the Cross, an episode in whose representation a plurality of relationships converge. The fulfillment of a destiny here becomes for some a measure of daily toil, for others a painful testimony, and for still others an act of faith.
Entitled Solidità is the work – of papers, fibers and thread – by Elena Redaelli, part of a larger project, first made in 2020 and still ongoing, that involves deep listening to the landscape and combines collective practices of physical experience with a graphic reworking of the territory. It is a material fragment of a suspended moment during which contact with the mountain and its forms filled a void. Beatrice Speranza‘s Esercizi di volo responds to the artist’s need for lightness, a desire for elevation through which she understood the importance of bringing heaven to earth. Individual works, which as a whole, create an installation of clouds made from embroidered photographic prints that are apparently very light but in fact firmly rooted to the ground with their bases of wood and steel. Closing the exhibition are two (non-textile) works: The pain of emptiness, a sculpture in reclaimed wood and iron by Danish artist Elisabeth Tronhjem that investigates the substance of which contemporary man is made, and Yukoh Tsukamoto‘s refined installation, HI FU MI (washi paper, shell powder and gold leaf on wood), which, in the wake of the Shinto tradition, finds the matrix of sacredness in nature.