Ilaria Turba and Fatima Bianchi – Meristà

Ilaria Turba and Fatima Bianchi – Meristà

The Meristà exhibition by Ilaria Turba and Fatima Bianchi, open until 12.12.2020 at Casa Testori (Novate Milanese), is a synchronic duet of different personal and family experiences which, interacting with each other, create a game of dreamlike modifications; the private imaginary becomes collective. The exhibition, curated by Giulia Zorzi , is not just a re-enactment of the past but a place of regeneration and meeting. The exhibition is part of the Pocket Pair cycle dedicated to contemporary art, coordinated by Marta Cereda, which provides for the establishment of a dialogue between two artists in the exhibition spaces.

The title of the exhibition ideally represents a harmonic evocation of a musical composition: the external sides are the main stanzas, the space of the stairs is the introduction, the rooms are variations on the theme. Meristà is therefore the title of a hypothetical invented song, it unites the different languages ​​of the two artists in a silent soundtrack, of which only the welcoming presence is perceived. It also derives from the word meristem: “plant tissue whose cells are capable of dividing and reproducing”. The body of the exhibition is mostly unpublished and also combines two works in situ created by the artists dedicated to the photographic archive of Casa Testori, a cultural hub dedicated in the enhancement of contemporary art, an open and experimental exhibition space designed by Giovanni Testori, one of the most important Italian intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Entering the first room, Twins Room, Ilaria Turba presents a work selected by the JEST (joke) project; here we find prints of five generations of photographs taken from 1870 to nowadays that mirror each other, they are passages that open to a hypothetical outside. The double function invites us to observe how our gaze can be deceiving, wandering: what are we looking at? Walking we enter the Fireplace Room, where Fatima Bianchi has placed a myriad of plaster balloons which, exiting the fireplace, scatter on the floor. We immediately realize that the consistency is not that attributed to a balloon, therefore they represent a sort of envelope, an egg or small bellies containing life; some are broken, as if something came out of them. On the last day of the exhibition, the artist will give opaque and fragile eggs to visitors, in a ritual that invites them to take care of the birth. To complete the work, entitled Les oeufs cosmiques (2020), sheets are arranged on which formulas are printed that the visitor is invited to take. Entering the Winter Garden Room we find the video work l’Ouvert (2020), created in correlation with the previous one: moments before childbirth, told by a group of women, in a narrative in which the space of purity that man has lost is represented precisely by birth, he transcends time.

Listening to the body in such an intimate moment unites the entire community, as in a propitiatory rite of openness, also referring to Italian and Spanish popular cultures. Birth becomes a meditative state, neither male nor female, collective. The images projected are not ultrasounds but rayograms, invented by Man Ray, that is, photographs in direct contact with paper, “oxidations of desires fixed by light and chemistry, living organisms.” Also by Fatima Bianchi is the work Onomancy (2017), located in the adjacent room (Kitchen II), the video tells her autobiographical journey from Palestine to Marseille, looking for her namesake. The name Fatima recalls the Christian cult of Our Lady of Fatima, in the Muslim religion the name, however, is that of the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed. In Kitchen I, we find another work from the JEST Memory # 1 series (2014); in reference to the title, the room represents the room of games, entertainment and discoveries, for example the memory with its visual traps, a vessel sailing in a hidden place, photographs on the shelves and the thaumatrope-turning machine, Lady T, who waits for someone who makes her live the illusion, by turning the crank, that the image really moves.

The video work Santa Selva (2020), created in situ by Fatima Bianchi and placed in the Navate, shows the projections of images from the private archive of the Testori family on the plants in the garden and the walls of the house. By lighting colored smoke bombs for a brief moment, the faces come to life, moving in the air and then disappearing “as a wish for liberation from fears, fears and anxieties”. In the Veranda, overlooking the garden, we find the work of Ilaria Turba, JEST act # 3 Tempesta (2017), an installation in which four hundred fragments of images detach from the wall and fall to the ground. It seems that it is the wind of which we hear only the noise that makes them fly away. In front of us an image made up of two different and superimposed photographs that are reflected in an ampoule reflecting the upside-down image. A reflection that seems real, a suspended space pushed by the wind.

In this imaginative world, ancestors, new births, hidden games and objects appear whose use is not immediately understood. Are shadows images of reality or are images of reality just shadows? “It is enough to love reality, always, in every way, even in the hasty and approximate way that was mine. But love it. For the rest there are no precepts.” (Giovanni Testori)

Ljuba Ciaramella


Ilaria Turba e Fatima Bianchi. Meristà
17.10 – 12.12. 2020
Casa Testori
Largo Angelo Testori 13, Novate Milanese (MI)

Free admission – Reservation required
From Tuesday to Friday 10.00-13.00 | 14.30-18.00
Saturday: 2.30pm – 7.30pm
Closed on Sunday and Monday | tel.+39.0236586877

Ilaria Turba e Fatima Bianchi. MeristàIlaria Turba, JEST_Family with hand fan, 2016, photo Giorgia Zaffanelli

Fatima Bianchi, Santoa Selva, 2020, photo Giorgia Zaffanelli

Ilaria Turba, Memory #1, 2014, photo Alessandro Frangi

Fatima Bianchi, Still frame from the film L’Ouvert, 2020


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