Each of the works was created in the vicinity of Rome. Sites include the Ostia beach, the Sala Scherma in the Foro Italico, and Diocletian's Stadium in the Palatine Hill. Through movement and sound, the performers in the three works envision an altered reality from a past historical situation. The female body is as agent-of recollection, resistance, and vision.
Sissi (b. 1977, Bologna, Italy, lives and works in London)
Diario di un ventre scavato ("Diary of a Hollow Abdomen"), 2016, video, 7:12 min.
The work documents Sissi's performance of her original poem, Diary of a Hollow Abdomen. The event took place on July 21st, 2016, within the ruins of Diocletian's Stadium in the Palatine Hill in Rome, which also provided the outline for her site-specific drawing. The performance was part of a group exhibition entitled "Par Tibi, Roma Nihil" organized by the Nomas Foundation and the city of Rome. Inspired by the shapes made by the fragmented columns of the ruins, which to the artist resembled the outline of a human torso and head, Sissi used flour to create a line drawing that filled the body's outline with internal organs, specifically the stomach and brain. In the performance, Sissi guides spectators through an ancient site of architectural fragments--re-envisioned as internal organs. As she notes in the poem, "The birth of a new brain is a series of complex, consolidated processes."
Cynthia Madansky, (b. 1961, Los Angeles, CA, Lives and works in NY)
Anna, Pina, Teresa, 16mm, 6:20 min., 2015
The setting for the film is the Sala Scherma, a modernist designed building in the Foro Italico in the north of Rome, which was historically used as Mussolini's fencing studio. Within this site, which gives way to views of broken columns and pine trees through the windows, dancer Marta Ciappina reinterprets the movements of the character Pina (played by Anna Magnani) in the pivotal scene of her murder in Roberto Rossellini's 1945 film Roma Città Aperta (Rome Open City). Pina's character was based on the story of Teresa Gullace, who was shot and killed by the Fascist police in Rome as she attempted to speak to her husband, who was being taken prisoner. Madansky's performer interprets the three main phases of movement that characterize the scene in Rossellini's film - resistance, running, and falling. As Madansky notes, the combination of performance and setting highlight "the contemporary and historical dynamics between an urban Fascist space and movements of resistance." The musical score for the film features original sound by electronic harp pioneer Zeena Parkins.
Goldschmied & Chiari (Sara Goldschmied, b. 1975, Arzignano, Italy, and Eleonora Chiari, b. 1971, Rome, Italy, live and work in Milan, Italy)
Una ragazza qualunque ("Anygirl"), 2012, High Definition Video on Blue-ray, 5.1 surround sound, 3’53’’
Goldschmied & Chiari's work, "Anygirl" is based on the unsolved death of Wilma Montesi, a young woman from Rome, whose body was found washed onto the shore of the nearby Capocotta beach in April 1953. As the artists explain,
Before the widespread use of television, the ‘dolce vita’ and the birth of paparazzi media, the Montesi case became a landmark event, as it was the first crime to become
a media spectacle and reach national notoriety. Cover-ups, conspiracies, and a secret world of drugs and orgies involving celebrities, politicians and criminals came to light in the two years of investigations and court proceedings following the discovery of Montesi’s body. All the people involved were absolved of all charges. Her murder remains
In Goldschmied & Chiari's film, Montesi opens her eyes and is seen splashing in the sea and running across the sand with her country's flag, in a vision of imagined justice. For the artists, the film presents a new view of Montesi that releases her from the image "that has represented her for decades as a lifeless body on the shore, and reappoint(s) her identity as that of 'any girl.'"