When I began to approach video art, one of my first encounters took place with the Francesca Lolli’s works. And it is useless to tell you that it was revolutionary for me. It was all there, within her works. Energy, anger and struggle. Actuality. Feminism. Non-conforming bodies. Environment. These are just some of the keywords I could use to describe part of the world told by Francesca. The urgency of the themes dealt with manages, thanks to the visual language used by the artist, to touch the majority, without going through a universalism that can somehow cancel its specificity and its power. A dialectic, the one used by the artist, which has the same force that was used during the first political and performative video experiments of the Italian feminist movements from the 70s, including Collettivo Cinema Femminista in Rome and Nemesiche in Naples.
Run Baby!!!, the latest of her works, was presented on May 5 in Perugia, at Spazio Mai (event promoted by the central hub of San Sisto in collaboration with Libera…Mente Donna) and selected for numerous video festivals, including the historic Videoart Yearbook in Bologna. A work, the latter, which arrives as the second chapter to the previous one La santa e la puttana and which reiterates the urgency of setting in motion the feminist practice, not only as a weapon of self-determination, but also as a liberating motion for all bodies existing in our society.
Sara Papini: You just submitted your latest work Run Baby!!! to the public both in Bologna and in Perugia, how did it go?
Francesca Lolli: Every time someone asks me to show my work I consider it a small miracle. The risk of remaining unheard is always very high in a world in which, especially today, we are bombarded with an incredible quantity of images which, precisely for this reason, risk losing their meaning. It happens to me too: I watch so much content that I risk confusing it or not remembering it. I am always very grateful to be able to present my research. I feel very strongly the importance of a “political” art (not partisan but in the sense of polis, public and common sphere). Every action we take is a political act. At every moment of our day, even without realizing it, we make choices that have repercussions on us, others and the environment. Regardless of my digression, the two events went very well! On May 5th I had the opportunity to be able to show my work in my hometown for a cause that I believe is fundamental. All the proceeds from the evening went to the Libera…Mente Donna association, which deals with anti-violence centres. As for Videoart Yearbook… what to say? For me it is wonderful to feel part of this big and beautiful family.
Run Baby!!!, your latest project is a natural extension of La santa e la puttana. In fact, the video game, the narrative mode and our much loved transfeminist heroine are back. What was it like producing and shooting it? How did the idea for this second chapter come about?
The idea is to be able to make a trilogy. La santa e la puttana was born immediately after the lockdown. I had so much time on my hands and I started experimenting at home. At the beginning I had no idea where my “shooting images freely” would lead me when, suddenly I had the idea: what if I created this transfeminist heroine who tries in every way to free the world from stereotypes and gender violence? And here La santa e la puttana was born, a heroine who tries to break down all kinds of prejudice and violence without succeeding. Game over is always around the corner… The rights we believe we have acquired are by no means obvious. Just a moment and you can go back many years. The thing I really like about these two works is the irony with which they deal with very important issues. I believe that certain messages can pass much more effectively if narrated with a certain “lightness” (which absolutely does not mean superficiality). The third video of the trilogy features a hero who fights against toxic masculinity. Because men too need feminism.
Your work touches multiple artistic declinations. What are the next projects?
At the moment I am working on the third film in collaboration with Bruno Bigoni, with whom we have already done two co-directions (Voglio vivere senza vedermi, from 2019 and Tre donne, by Sylvia Plath, from 2021). This film (which was born within the IULM University of Milan) will feature prisoners in the Bollate prison and will be a film that, inspired by Omero’s Iliad, will prove to be an experimentation between fiction, video performance and documentary. As far as video art is concerned, I have in mind to shoot a work focused on the breast but I still don’t have clear ideas about it. One thing at a time otherwise I too risk game over.
She was born in Genoa but currently lives in Bologna, the city where she graduated from CITEM with a thesis on video art. She works in the world of events in the production sector and is an assistant professor of Visual Studies at UNIBO.