Susana Pilar. Empatía

The body is a testimony. Wrinkles, moles, scars: imprinted like letters narrating a history. Different skin, different destiny. Material energy that empties and fills the echoing soul. The body is an anthropology of essences and presences, of absences and latencies. Empathy of denunciation, empathy of resistance. The body is art: art as suffering, art as consciousness, art as identity.

Susana Pilar, “Empatía”, exhibition view, Galleria Continua San Gimignano, 2024, courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, photographer Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

The body is not just a medium for Susana Pilar –habanera artist born in 1984 – but a container of emotions, memories, pain. Like a sponge, it mentally and physically absorbs the different nuances of experience, and then wrings out and expiates the feelings. For the artist, the performative act is a visible testimony of what is silent. Mute are the experiences of anguish and voiceless the words to be shared. Identifying with the other is the martyrdom of truth, of respect, of declaring tangible evidence of the atrocity of human existence. Ardour and brutality as gestures and signs of a sensitive and inspiring art. The stillness of history is Pilar’s movement. There is no single motivation that guides her body, but rather social, colonial and anthropological issues, discrimination on race and gender. Her sub-Saharan origins are also a further field of investigation and cultural-historical manifestation. Her body becomes the site of collective memories in which she reflects roles and conditions, investigates the human being and its identity. It is a bare and pure language, sometimes combined with other mediums by instinct or elective affinity, such as drawing, photography, sculpture, which become participatory traces between past and present.

Susana Pilar, “Empatía”, exhibition view (“Lo que contaba la abuela”, 2017), Galleria Continua San Gimignano, 2024, courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, photographer Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

For the first time in the San Gimignano spaces of Galleria Continua, Susana Pilar’s corporality is exhibited in Empatía. The exhibition is a declaration to intimate reciprocity, to the sharing and knowledge of a silent consciousness. Vibrations of energy generate chills as they connect to the works on display. The artist’s body comes to the fore in the negative shots of Sin Titulo de la serie Paso, Acceso Ilimitado veiling – but not hiding – those bruises of violence on Cuban women with truncated destinies. These images are an archive of collective denunciation towards the objectification of the female body, too anchored in cultural phenomena, but not too late to be exorcised. Black Stories is an installation of black origami as the result of one of the Cuban artist’s most powerful performances. It is an intimate quest, made up of reminiscences of Congolese ancestors enslaved by the Belgian colonies. They seemingly insignificant objects, but which, in truth, lead back to memories of an existence torn apart and punished with mutilation.

Susana Pilar, “Empatía”, exhibition view (“Sin Titulo” de la serie “Paso, Acceso Ilimitado”, 2003), Galleria Continua San Gimignano, 2024, courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, photographer Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

«No tan con las manos, cuando con los pies» so declares the artist about these origami, because they were made for the first time in the three-hour 2019 performance using only her feet. An act of absorbed concentration with the aim of shaking the soul and achieving respect. Also in the photographs of Intercontinental Drawing, the performer, dragging a boat half-naked during the 2017 Venice Biennale, reiterates the concept of deportation, reaffirming a necessary reflection on heredity. Susana Pilar is an artist who makes her body an active witness, to shape consciences and investigate truths obscured by history. The sensitivity of her aesthetic language is oriented where the eye has chosen not to see, where the ears have chosen not to hear, where the hands have chosen to act. Body like change.


Susana Pilar. Empatía
20/01 – 31/03 2024
Galleria Continua
Piazza della Cisterna 26, San Gimignano (SI)


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