Sahrai Milano, from March 28 to April 11, 2022
Via A. Manzoni 45, Milan
Second Life is an exhibition presented in the Sahrai London showroom in 2019, curated by Marina Dacci and rearranged in the Sahrai space in Milan on the occasion of the week of art and Miart 2022.
In collaboration with the Francesco Pantaleone Gallery
Since 2000 Loredana Longo has been investigating the explicit use of written language by relating it to iconographic elements through gestural and performative interventions. The first works on carpets date back to 2013 and are specifically focused on issues in the Mediterranean region.
But perhaps the first example of these works can be found in the 2011-2012 series: Floor. The reasons behind the birth of this project were linked to overbuilding and wild speculation or to private domestic violence but on the concrete floor surfaced work clothes or womens’ black dresses that recalled absent bodies. Clothes recall bodies, but language – primary human code – also recalls bodies, identities and relationships. The sentences selected by the artist evoke specific personalities, mostly Western politicians, who have marked our culture and are rooted in the popular imagery.
Thinking well these phrases are iconographies: portraits of the persons who wrote or pronounced them, so powerfully that we can visualize their bodies, their gestures.
These are statements of “libertarian” principles that can be transferred into everyday life practices: hope, better future, collaboration, aspiration towards freedom, tolerance and respect. They can proactively move from the political and social sphere into a purely personal life.
But they can also be aphorisms that—out of the context in which the words were declared —become depleted and trivial, and they took on the flavour of slogans, falling within the scope of advertising marketing.
These mottos became grafted onto a pre-existing “territory”: the oriental carpet.
The carpet is not a neutral territory—the carpet is not the painter’s virgin canvas. It is a place “polluted” by its experience as an object, a place/symbol that captures our steps and actions where we live our domestic intimacy and where we share our social and spiritual lives.
In the manufacturing phases, the carpet absorbs the energy and expertise from the artesan who made it—mostly women—and it presents signs and decorations drawn from specific cultural and visual values of the communities in which it was created. In Middle Eastern literature, the carpet is also a powerful, imaginative element that can bring us to other places, giving us new glances on the world.
…We are taught that the words ‘carpet’ and ‘butterfly’ have the same etymology in classical Arabic, and certainly not only for the fascination of their colors. Weaving and knotting call to mind the plots that have been hatched against people by invisible hands… The carpet flies because it is a spiritual land—the designs on the carpet announce that land, found in a spiritual flight… (Quote by Cristina Campo: “Gli Imperdonabili”).
An artistic intervention on the carpet can be an attempt to a dialogue and an exchange, but also an overlapping violent act. We can consider Loredana Longo’s project as a kind of particular collective work that results from the contribution of the artesan that realized the carpet and of the artist’s intervention: two different sensitivities and “hand-intelligence”,
two different languages that meet or clash… A work that in both circumstances is measured with the time dimension during the creative process and the values underlying it.
In Loredana Longo’s project, choosing the carpets and the sentences to set, and looking for the lettering style fonts
—in relation to the carpet iconography—constitute topical passages, both visual and conceptual.
Each phrase is associated with the artifact—the text and its position are chosen with respect for its decorative structure, searching for a precise rhythm in the spatial organization of language.
Afterwards, fire creates their marriage as it removes the matter: a removal of the upper layer that has a violent connotation. The burning process is defined by, and delimited within the letter moulds that mark the fire path. Is this engraving perhaps an attempt to leave a permanent imprint on the tradition of another culture?
The sentences have been excerpted from press reports and were pronounced during key moments of contemporary history. Through the purifying effect produced by fire, they take on different shades of meaning and encourage a deep reflection. Loredana Longo’s approach is quite interesting and provocative. The artist creates artifacts that can be read in opposite ways: the carpet becomes a text page—a text of good practices for everyday life, a mantra you chant, you repeat every day so that “you won’t forget”; or it can be a provocation—a criticism directed at people who think they can find the truth in sentences/slogans to “consume”.
Loredana Longo’s work opens a window on many scenarios and can convey multiple meanings: everything is always in the eyes and hearts of the viewers. (Marina Dacci)
Thanks to Galleria Francesco Pantaleone Milan / Palermo for the collaboration.