The exhibition brings together figures united by artistic practices and existences that are animated by a relationship of refusal, of confrontation and at the same time by the urgency of affirming their voices within the cultural system in which they have moved or still move. Most of the works featured were produced in a particular historical moment, the beginning of the ‘70s, animated by the aspiration to give life to utopias and by a form of resistance carried out on a linguistic and personal level. These artists share an intolerance of dominant structures, an emotional fragility, a sense of not belonging, a continuous desire to question themselves, an inseparable link between their personal experience and their art.
The subject of identity, the political instance, the relationship with the body are central themes in the work of Suzanne Santoro (1946) and Cloti Ricciardi (1939) with the need to redefine the female artistic subject dictated by the urgency of accessing a space — the world of art — dominated by men. Despite the fact that the feminism of the 1970s had penetrated the world of art and had fuelled a debate whose results are only now beginning to be seen, the feminist political struggle carried out by both the art world and the wider debate, although inseparable from artistic practice, has never fully identified with it.
While Vincenzo Agnetti (1926-1981) never clearly defined his political position, he did carry out an investigation into the role of language, time, communication and social criticism with great consistency. An outsider to any given movement, he often showed an ideological impatience with the artistic context in which he had taken his first steps by deciding to abandon painting in favour of a radical questioning the artwork.
Franca Sacchi (1940) was one of the very few female figures active on the Italian electronic music scene active between the late ‘60s and ‘70s, before abandoning art and experimental music to devote herself to teaching yoga, which she continues to do. Her album Ho sempre desiderato avere un cane, un gatto e un cavallo. Ora ho un gatto e un cavallo mi manca soltanto il cane (I always wanted to have a dog, a cat and a horse. Now I have a cat and a horse and I only miss the dog), published in 1973, will be the soundtrack to the exhibition.
Cinzia Ruggeri (1945) is a visionary artist and designer who in her creations combines fashion, architecture and design in a unique way that escapes any possible definition. She has experimented incessantly, pushing the language of fashion towards never before explored boundaries, designing all kinds of accessories including furniture, home interiors and theatrical sets. A surrealist imaginary that makes objects anew, making them interact with the body in an ironic and performative manner.
Roman Stańczak (1969) is a polish artist who studied at Grzegorz Kowalski’s workshop along with Paweł Althamer, Katarzyna Kozyra and Artur Żmijewski debuting on the art scene in the beginning of the ‘90s; producing a relevant and strong ensemble of works before withdrawing from the art world as soon as 1997. During these years of struggle with alcohol addiction, the artist produced a number of drawings depicting fairly-tales and a few figurative sculptures. His return was marked by the invitation of Paweł Althamer in 2013 to create a sculpture for a park in the Bródno neighbourhood of Warsaw. This year he represents Poland at the Venice Biennale.
Amelia Rosselli (1930-1996) is one of the most important voices of 20th century Italian poetry. The tragic experiences of her adolescence (the killing of her father by the fascists and various migrations between France, England, America and finally to Italy) evoked in her a sort of linguistic dissociation and a condition of permanent displacement, reflected in her use of language. Rosselli's poetry — emotional, pained, cultured, sophisticated — represents a melee with reality that sadly ended with suicide in 1996.
In her brief and dramatic existence, Patrizia Vicinelli (1943-1991) took part in the Italian neo- avant-garde scene by joining Gruppo 63 and collaborating with Emilio Villa in magazines such as Ex and Quindici. Vicinelli produced bold writing, situated between visual and sound poetry, with a strong performative calling, always dictated by a great intellectual force that has made her an influential figure in the underground literary and film scene. Her self- destructive nature led her to a restless existence studded with stories of drugs, prison and illness, depriving her of the recognition she deserved.
Sarah Margnetti (1983) studied at The Van der Kelen-Logelain Institute in Brussels, the longest established school in the world specialising in traditional decorative painting techniques. While there, the artist perfected the technique of trompe l'oeil, developing her own pictorial imagery combining optical illusions with abstract and surreal motifs often including parts of her body. Margnetti will conceive a wall painting for the exhibition that will also serve as an ideal backdrop for the other works on display.