In the powerful and painful, never victimistic, let alone pathetic, novel Il peso (Heft) of Liz Moore, recently re-edited by NNEditore , the life of one of the protagonists is drawn by the confines of his body. Like a cello imprisoned in a case, Arthur has locked himself up for 10 years: he never leaves the house anymore. He has no one to see, no one who needs him, no one worth going out for.
How important is the physical appearance of people, but above all, how important is appearance for people who they inhabit that body. How much does it reflect them?
The photographic exhibition Mirrors tries to answer this and much more, where 22 artists interpret through the self-portrait the mirror , understood as a metaphor of the self , an instrument of research and analysis that from the exterior becomes interior and digs deeper and deeper.
The weight of pain
The book unfolds in a path that incorporates other points of view besides Arthur's, other problems, other stories, all linked with his. All tell a pain - a pain , often restrained, dignified and composed: some lead to problems with alcohol, others in a disharmonious relationship with food. The body, the one that suffers the effort of taking only a few steps, the one that plays sports, the one that hosts a ' unexpected new life, it is always present. In the center.
All the stories tell loneliness that twist into a spiral of frustration, united by self-enclosure in themselves and by inability to ask , to let go of despair, to accept the help of others , as if they feel - on the skin - not to deserve it .
Bodies dug by solitude
Weight tells stories of gaps to be filled, of bodies hollowed out by pain that contain the anxiety with (too much) food or (too much) alcohol, but does so softly, without ever complaining, without arousing pietism, only deep respect, and affection. What makes this novel special, in fact, is the calibrated, intense and at the same time dry writing of Liz Moore, who does not indulge in itchy descriptions of the abyss of ugliness into which the protagonists have sunk but throws glimmers of light without explaining too much, leaving open encounters and possibilities, those of a de facto family, which is found and wanted.
I don't try to reduce the amount of food I eat: I don't see why
“The first thing you need to know about me is that I am enormously fat. When we met I was so to speak round but not anymore. I eat what I want and as often as I want. I haven't practically even tried to reduce the amount of food I eat in years because I don't see why. Despite this, I am neither immobilized nor confined to bed, but when I take more than six or seven steps I am out of breath and in fact I feel very shy and as if imprisoned in a case, like a cello or an expensive rifle”.
I wanted someone to talk to
“The very last time I left home was in September 2001, when I felt so alone in front of the TV news that I opened the door, I went down the ladder and sat on the last step, my head in my hands, for an hour. I wanted someone to talk to. It seemed to me that the world was about to end. […] I had no one to call, and that day no one had called me, which was why I realized I no longer needed to go out. I have since become a recluse ”.
Mirrors as an investigation of oneself
From 3 to 11 September 2022, the Sala Campolmi di Prato will host Mirrors , an exhibition by Ad Gallery which also collects one hundred photographs on fine art paper, the reflections of 22 Italian and international artists on the mirror , an investigation tool that goes from physical to mental.
That reflection of his own image that, in the book, Arthur always tries to escape: he does not see only a huge and neglected body, he sees its fragility and its shortcomings . Over the years they have grown so much - stratified as if they were adipose tissues that accumulate, take root, encrusted, to his body - to overwhelm him completely, inducing him to abdicate from the life of a relationship and to surrender himself to the demon of loneliness.
In the self-portrait the subject becomes an object at the same time
In contemporary photography, the self-timer has often been used as a tool for research and inner analysis to pass, through the physical body, to a deeper self-analysis. A privileged means of investigation, in the self-portrait the subject becomes an object at the same time, in a identification which, through the photographic medium, becomes even clearer.
The camera, in fact, allows the artist to self-retract by thinning the boundary of technical and temporal mediation, in a vision that appears as immediate as that offered by the mirror.
From an incorporeal self to an investigated body, from multiplied to crumbling body
The Mirrors exhibition project involves artists who have gained a long experience in conceptual photographic research, presented here through a series of shots with a unified breath. Through the works on display, we pass from an incorporeal, evanescent self, to the search for a physical dissolution that shows the persistence of the soul, to a body investigated through the objects of memory, from the body multiplied in its thousand doubles to the corroded one, crumbled by the action of time.
The place merges and merges with the portrayed bodies
Another element of constant analysis is the relationship of the body with the surrounding space , which not only acts as a scenography but becomes a relational object with which the artists engage in dialogue, making it the protagonist of the story and active interlocutor.
From abandoned places, to bare bedrooms that show the signs of time, to mirrors that enter directly into the scene presenting an I other and emancipated , space enters the body as the body in it, in an osmosis made of textures, lines and colors in which the place merges and merges with the bodies portrayed in search of a new space-time dimension the places to live in.
A tribute to Francesca Woodman
In this scenario of common reflections, Mirrors , is also configured as a tribute to the work of Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), one of the twentieth century photographers who reflected on this theme the most, whose artistic production it focuses on the relationship between the body, as subject and object simultaneously, and one's gaze.
A constant research and questioning of one’s identity
In her photographic investigation, Woodman has always favored the self-timer as a tool for research and narration and, through an aesthetic focused on the fusion between body and space, often favoring abandoned places, reinterpreted in a surrealist and visionary.
Through experiments such as the body in motion, double exposure or long exposure times, Woodman obtained, in the 70s, blurred faces at the limit of recognizability that denote a constant research and questioning about her own identity.
Francesca Woodman lived between the United States and Italy (Florence, Rome) and in just ten years, between the ages of 13 and 22, she left over 800 photographs . Her visual language has inspired many artists and is still alive and present today, with exhibitions dedicated to her work all over the world.
Collateral events, workshops and conferences dedicated to photographic portraits
Contemporary photography exhibition curated by Alberto Desirò, with the artistic consultancy of Vittorio D'Onofri, Romina Sangiovanni and Erika Lacava and the collaboration of Simone Ridi, the Mirrors exhibition, organized with the patronage of the City of Prato, also organizes a series of collateral events, workshops and conferences to analyze the photographic portrait both from a theoretical-conceptual and from a technical-practical point of view.