The relationship-man-woman-nature, filtered through ten incisive points of view of as many artists, finds place in the emblematic spaces of the anti-aircraft bunker under the hill of the Castle of Udine. Wasted is a complex exhibition, at times difficult to visit, set up in a problematic but undoubtedly interesting and particular environment. Contemporary art on display by artists from all over the world and with different production techniques gives the underground rooms of the former air-raid shelter an intimate aspect, which invites reflection and the denunciation of that patriarchal model that, as the latest trends have taught us, even the women themselves have internalized and perpetrated.
The curator Chiara Isadora Artico, through the work of cultural promotion operated by the association IoDeposito, has devised a path ideally divided into steps by themes, and characterized by a series of side events that enrich and complete the suggestions triggered by the works of the artists on display. We find literary presentations, live performances and workshops that bring citizens into dialogue with contemporary art, thanks to the valuable support of bookshops, historical venues and the museum of modern and contemporary art Casa Cavazzini.
The dark and humid vaults of the bunker welcome the visitor with targeted lights, without pretending to hide the environmental imperfections – humidity, mold, graffiti, cold and pools of water that surround the installations – creating a network of exchange with the messages launched loudly by the works themselves. The relationship with nature is not, in this way, denied as it happens in the canonical museum environments, but left free to influence the vision and to put viewers in a seemingly uncomfortable situation, which seems to recall that experienced by women because of the gender disparity that continues to infect their lives. Themes that could appear as already widely brought to light, arriving in some cases to marks and rhetorical simplifications, are instead presented with extreme transparency and simplicity: judgements, stereotypes, visions and perceptions that fall on the female gender not only by the male one but, often, also by other women, which condemn and hurt in such a subtle way as to blame those who rebel and bring to light a problem that has undoubtedly not yet been remedied.
Two installations open the path in a delicate way, letting perceive the subjects by means of two objects. The first one, Mnestica (2021), is a sound work by Beatrice Achilli that recalls the tradition of oral transmission of collective memories and popular knowledge. As when you leans on the ear a shell seems to hear the sound of the sea waves, so the women have whispered their conquests and their knowledge to other people, acting secretly even if effectively handed down to us.
There is no lack of performance technique, among which Time Oxidation (2022-23) by Zosia Zoltkowski stands out, whose eloquent video footage and the artist’s co-starring object on the scene. A metal plate becomes, for Zoltkowski, the space in which to implement his practice of embodiment: on its surface he draws a series of lines by means of his naked body. The artist comes into contact with matter, explores it and is impregnated by it, discovering and tuning with the nature of the object, establishing a relationship between it and the installation.
Exposing and observing an inanimate body in the seventeenth century and in contemporaneity: this is the goal of the macabre still life of Holly Timpener, which presents a work, the result of her performance, entitled Frans Snyders Re-make (2017-2023). The dynamics triggered not by the dead body, but by those who look at it and judge it – be it human or animal – draws a parallel between the representation that proposes the Flemish painter Frans Snyders Still life with game suspended on Hook (1640 circa) through the representation of some hunting animals dismembered and set up scenographically on a table, and the aseptic stage of an integral female nude presented by Timpener. The objects that surround the artist’s body assume symbolic meanings that, once the female figure that converges the attention of the viewer, refer to the universe decorative and at the same time oppressive female as tights, pearls, bottles of detergent.
The journey ends with two videos that come from different timeframes, yet easily comparable with each other. All those subtle disparities that women are subjected to on a daily basis in multiple situations are investigated as much by Martha Rosler in Vital Statistic of a Citizen, Simply Obtained (1977) as by Sarah Maple in Freedom of Speech (2013). The first, a video denouncing standardization that male control wants to impose on the female body, recreates a hypothetical medical examination in which every single physical component of the artist is measured and analyzed with exasperating slowness, visible through an eloquent cathode-ray tube television painted in shocking pink. A real disturbing element the second, which tends to catalyze the attention on itself throughout the visit for the bursting with which sudden slaps arrive on Maple’s face, while the camera takes her during a speech on the rights of women artists.
A complex exhibition, which combines an unconventional environment with the works of artists who want to induce viewers to reflect and share their complaint. A goal that, all in all, art has often set itself over the centuries. The series of side events proposed by IoDeposito complete the message of the works that can be observed inside the bunker, bringing international artists in a region that is increasingly interested in contemporary art.
Curated by Chiara Isadora Artico
7/10 – 3/11/2023
Bunker, Piazza I Maggio
Passionate about curatorial practice and museology, she has always been interested in the history of art from the modern to the contemporary era. After an international university education in art history and conservation of historical-artistic heritage, she has dedicated herself to cultural influences and exchanges between Italy and France.