SYMBOLIC DICTIONARY IN THE FIRST PERSON
SYMBOLIC DICTIONARY IN THE FIRST PERSON
I realized for the first time that I was not able to abandon the strength and intensity of the liturgical gestures internalized since I was a child, when I decided in July 2016 to create my poetic manifesto bearing the name “Sposalizio con Arte” (“Wedding with Art”).
Born a Catholic, I moved away from the Christian cult whilst remaining obsessed by its rituality. For the first three of my public works, I carried out and auto-administered three personal atheist sacraments, using a symbolic gesture for each one as a demonstration of the truth of my actions.
For “Tempo zero” I presented myself to the public for the first time as Reverie, confiding to each single member of the audience that that was the day of my baptism, of being born into the waters of the Art world. For “Rinascimento Ipersensibile” I shared an important moment of confession: at Palazzo Strozzi I sought out specific moments of dialogue with each single visitor, quoting from Burden’s Visitation, allowing them to give rise to their own thoughts and listening to their hearts in front of the flames of Bill Viola’s work. It was an explosion of humanity, truth, tears and powerful energy. With “PourOntani” I used the thumb of my right hand to trace the sign of the cross on my forehead, with laurel oil taken from a pot typical of those used during confirmation; at that moment, I was immersed to the knees in the waters of the fountain at the centre of the Giardino Moresco where my performance took place. Considering the exalted person present, the confirmation took place under the discerning gaze of my Master and ideal Godfather.
As Lea Vergine so rightly declares, Art is not a religion; as there is no fixedness, no stability of norms or rules and it doesn’t believe in an absolute truth. The currents and the counter currents of the flow of Art, are multiple, unstable and the most varied. I have decided to give my life to Art in its elusive nature, as a constant dedication and a discovery, a relationship and a life together. I use the recovery of moments from the religious cult as an instrument to fix, strongly and indelibly, the almost eternal moments in this liquid journey which represent for me the fixed points, not of Art but of my ingress into it.
“The physical structure, including the bones, flesh, and organs, of a person or an animal”.
What does it mean to be naked? Body is my tool. Although individual in the specific anatomical sense, due to its function it is a sure basis for the equality of all humans and I have no difficulty in using it dedicated to Art. My personal work, defined in part as art-therapy and in harmony with Body Art, arises from the dimension of a single person meeting another for the first time. My body becomes a means and a megaphone of single experiences which then become collective, as they are truly real inasmuch as they are experienced and lived for the first time. Each of my performances and works, after lengthy planning and construction and composition of each single element and object by me, is carried out only once and for the first time, on the date and in the place which have been chosen. As far as my projects are concerned, I have never put anyone’s life in danger, neither mine nor that of the spectators, even though I give life to work which is exhausting and of the highest intensity, not solely emotional. As for the many diverse forms of artistic collaboration, I place myself at the service of the aesthetics, the thoughts and the work of others: the artists with whom I relate can do with me what they will, I will have no limits nor will I suffer, in that for Art I will devotedly take each single situation to its conclusion. I have overcome hypothermia and the repetitiveness of performance (a concept that as far as I am concerned has no place in my performative process) just to cite two extreme examples, and I do not fear any experiment or physical limit if it is carried out as a work of Art.
“The organ of sight”.
Bachelard called it « the projector of human power». I was, by definition, born with open eyes. Sight is the primary filter which records everything and from which all the other senses follow, tending naturally towards hypersensitivity. People who have a high level of sensitivity have the perceptive-cognitive capacity to understand even the imponderable and to live what is often an augmented reality. The third eye is usually considered to be the symbol of this. I believe however that the body in its entirety is an eye and that all the senses represent no less than the variations of the possibilities for seeing and communicating. The mouth remains an important means of expression since for me the word is one of my preferred means for poetic transmission and exchange with the public and/or the virtual world. The extremities, which are part of all that is touch, are the means of breaking through the limits of one’s own self towards the possibility of sharing a human body, not limited to the single individual in space, but spreading out to the collective united with the space, to the works or objects to be found in it. The ears are attentive witnesses to the sounds of daily life, hearing must be ready to acknowledge even the imperceptible as silence is also the profoundest music. Just as smell can guide one to recognize a single experience, sensation, person and personality (for a year and a half, as well as wearing a rose every day, I also wear its perfume on my skin).
“Responding excessively to a stimulus”.
Images usually associate an intangible, ‘mental’ dimension with the concrete space occupied by the subject. However, if we can consider the internal-physical experience to be inseparable from the enjoyment of such images, it is undeniable that it is, in fact, possible to go beyond a mere image. This dimension gives way to an aphasic state or Stendhal syndrome, producing an active re-creation involving both the mind, the person and the entirety of their emotions: this is hypersensitivity. My aim is to link hypersensitivity – this positive excess in response to energy and emotional forces – to art as an immediate reaction of the immune system to the work, one which the human body alone is capable of. The purpose of my performance is no longer only to study the audience; rather, it represents a further stage within my research: the demonstration that each human being possesses a hypersensitive characteristic, even if latent or di cult to manifest. According to scientific research 20% of the population is hypersensitive; I am part of this 20%, and generally speaking an artist is by de nition the ‘most hypersensitive’. The state of SPS (Sensory-Processing Sensibility) is that of constant ‘vulnerability’, which can also have positive implications: these individuals are more reactive and ready to respond in any way (from attentive observation to specific behaviours) to their surroundings and more. The increase in visual attention and cognitive involvement are essential stimuli which explode in an exhibition like “Rinascimento Elettronico” where the eye of the spectator is urged towards multiple possibilities of interpretation and subjective enjoyment. To stimulate the public into living what Bill Viola recounts in an uninterrupted ow, to reconstruct in real time gestures and gazes, and to verify new senses which have their primary origins in water: this is my challenge.
Reverie, 2017 July. (“Hypersensitivity is the current state of the art” extract from “Reverie. Rinascimento ipersensibile”, limited edition published on the occasion of the performance at Palazzo Strozzi).
“Any scaly-bulbed plant of the genus Lilium”.
It is the flower of legends, above all religious ones, beginning with the meeting of Mary and Joseph and continuing with the Annunciation and returning in myth, as depicted by Tintoretto in “The Origin of the Milky Way”. Other than a symbol of Christianity the lily is also one of the most recurrent symbols in the history of the great dynasties, of the equestrian orders and it is the emblem of the city of Florence.
I take my personal definition from the colour of lilium candidum and from “Poetica della rêverie”: «D’Annunzio placed a rêverie in front of the still waters in which the soul finds its repose, the repose in a dream of a love which may remain pure».
My lily is my promise of Purity.
I swim in a daily panta rei of lives, experiences, people, circumstances…and even though I internalize, listen and engage with the external world, my absolute inviolability always triumphs. My essence remains white. To go deeper, although rapidly, into my affirmation, I believe that contaminations with the world are absolutely necessary but that each time they show the uniqueness of my voice, fragile yet at the same time loud and clear. I am physically pure. I refuse any contact of an intimate nature because I believe it to be the first manifestation of egoism and suffering, not only towards oneself but also towards the world. Contrary to a public sharing of the body, of nudity and of intimacy dedicated to Art which represent no problem for me, I shun any excessive approach towards my sexuality.
Contrary to many artists who make of their sexual practices a background motif or an integral part of their expression, I believe holding it within to be the key that preserves the sacrosanctity of my purity. Following my “Sposalizio con Arte”, my poetic manifesto, I lost my virginity and I considered this to be a necessary act to complete that marriage which I had made with such love and intensity and which otherwise would not have been a completed ritual. But women, so they say, are good at returning to the initial candour of their minds. Thus, unwittingly I have made a choice; I live alone. I live for myself and I recount my sufferings as the sufferings of an unsullied world. I believe this discourse to be “feminist” as I recognize that I do not need to please anyone, I am not at anyone’s mercy, I have no relationship of dependency with anyone. I am free. And only in this way can the world and its doings be truly present in my life.
“From rêve «dream», a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing. It is the authentic dimension of the concrete exercise of imagination”.
As Bachelard declares that he dedicated his work, “Poetica” to numerous types of rêveries, but most of all to have spoken about those who think, I admit that I find myself in a state of meditative reverie. I symbolically embodied the iconology of my nomen omen, one which is represented by me every day, moment after moment in a state of vigil yet at the same time dreaming, at the close of my third public performance “PourOntani. A daydreaming dedicated to Luigi Ontani.” He had in fact exhorted me to create my own mask and so, inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s Melancholia and by the Rêverie,’s iconology, I sat on a chair shrouded with a white sheet covered in the red hand-written words of my fable, I bound my head with a head-dress of the purest feathers, I left a shell of Botticellian memory at my feet and I crossed my legs, my semi-naked body a livery of swan-like pallor, I held the life-moulded mask to my face and I allowed my eye to search: and then I lost myself in atemporal reasonings, thoughts and images. I gazed into the void whilst maintaining a significant lack of contact with the world. Reverie is part of this oneiric dictionary because it is the starting point of me. Before the 24th of June 1994 there was the “Museo Reverie” created thanks to my father’s waking dreams about Art. On this occasion of my baptism my parents explained their choice of this complicated name:
It was not only the name of the medieval heroine of love for Abelard;
to her, in the heart of the Enlightenment,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau entitled a fundamental text for the utopia of a new world
and education oriented to the primal and spiritual life,
between nature experience and feeling in relation to reason,
for the triumph of truth, freedom, justice, virtue, happiness …
But, above all, Eloisa is Reverie!
is the poetry of fantasy and imaginary,
of the instinct of freedom between project and utopia;
is the mental strength and reason in the daydreaming,
in the creative meditation between the depiction of Art / “Melancholia” and Happiness.
I have never known myself to be anything but Reverie: the birth name which on the 23rd of May 2017 also became the only one, cancelling both Eloise and Vezzosi through the re-baptism of myself.
“Genus Rosa, family Rosaceae”.
«Of a rose brushing against marble, psychoanalysts could easily create a story. But giving the poetic page far too distant psychological responsibilities would deprive us of the joy of speech, it would wrench words from our mouths » maintains Bachelard, again in “Poetics of rêverie”.
Perhaps the most overused flower of all, for me the rose is an aesthetic requirement.
Since 2016 I wear a rose every day, corresponding to my need for expressing my daily dedication to Art in an obvious way. I chose this flower expressly for its multiple symbolisms even as Art itself is multiform. Every day, each rose (whether real, artificial, reworked by me or not) is always different but at the same time it is always the same, the figure of all its symbolisms and an active harbinger of new ones. How to define the rose?
The rose is completeness, passion and death, glory and resurrection, in other words, the rose as eternal life; the rose is the emblem of the Sacred and the Profane; the rose is gilded until it becomes Mystical; the Rose of Saint Joseph and its petals; the rose in mythology and the rose dear to the most beautiful goddesses; the rose of Islam…The Roman poet Decimius Magnus Ausonius associates the rose with the fleeting nature of life; in one of his idylls (61) he recites «The life of a rose is contained within a single day; one which in a single moment conjoins youth and old age», he takes up the theme of Horace’s carpe diem and anticipates themes which would then go on to be widely discussed during The Renaissance. Before any other Greek poet, Saffo’s “roses of Pierian streams”; the roses of Helios and the Muses; the Masonic rose and the ambiguity of the German language “Im Rosengarten sein”; the roses of witches, of fairies and in fairytales; in alchemy and magical sciences in general, the white rose and the red as primordial elements from which we believe existing matter is composed (the first as a “volatile” substance the second as the ingredient of “combustion”)… I use roses in their natural state for my public performances: with their thorns, their leaves and their colours. I used red and white roses to re-adapt the Maestro Ontani’s “Plaisir/douleur” on the occasion of the performance dedicated to him, whereas for the two preceding performances, I used my favourite type of rose, that is to say medium stemmed and with a white flower tinged with green; for “Wedding” I interacted with 22 white roses having stems as long as they were thin. I find the theme of contrast between reality and fiction, copy and artifice – which has become a classic in the current state of Art – to be a very interesting one. I have chosen as a constant every time, to have as many roses as the years of my age: indeed, no matter what symbolisms or references might be evoked, I wanted at least one of these numbers and these elements to be as close to me as possible. The “unripe” rose tinged with green and almost ready to flower is the type which represents me and best identifies my life at the moment.
“A container with a handle, for carrying clothes and possessions while travelling.”
This is an object which is always present in my public and/or private work. It is part of the concept of travel which my artistic life represents. As far as my personal projects are concerned, this is the tool which helps me to keep faith with the promises with which I enter the museums, galleries, public and private spaces I engage with: everything which I take with me and which I then employ in those circumstances, is used and taken away after being once again placed back inside. Usually it is a vintage family suitcase, one which has a history and which represents this idea of a journey towards a future having solid roots in a specific past. All of my work, all of my life, all of my story go into my suitcase, a new “Museo Reverie”.
“The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole”.
«Uomo, vecchio, vestito di Cangiante color vario, e diverso; sarà detto vestimento riccamente a Stelle, perché di tempo in tempo esse sono dominatrici alle cose corrottibili; sarà coronato di Rose, di Spighe, di Frutti, e di Tronchi secchi, come Rè, e Signore dell’Anno, e delle stagioni; starà a sedere sopra il Circolo del Zodiaco, perché la sua virtù è là su nel Cielo altamente collocata, e misurando a noi i moti del Sole, e de gli altri Pianeti ci distingue, e estingue i Mesi, gli Anni, e l’Età; terrà uno Specchio forbito in mano, il quale ci fa conoscere, che del tempo solo il presente si vede, e ha l’essere, il quale per ancora è tanto breve, e incerto, che non avanza la falsa imagine dello Specchio. A canto avrà un Fanciullo magro, e macilento da una banda, e dall’altra un altro bello, e grasso, ambidue con lo Specchio, e sono il tempo passato, che si va consumando nelle memorie degli uomini, e il futuro, che accresce le speranze tuttavia. A’ piedi sarà un Libro grande nel quale dui altri Fanciulli scrivano; tenendo l’uno, significato per lo Giorno, il Sole in testa, e l’altro, per la Notte, la Luna» (“Iconologia”, Cesare Ripa).
I decided to quote the source that Luigi Ontani himself used to represent his work “Ore” since I myself began with this image, ready to appropriate it for myself and depict it with personal symbolisms. For me Time is a man, a presence to relate to and one which must never leave one’s sight. It is heavy, relentless and illuminating. It is one of my most daily obsessions and represents a faithful and omnipresent companion in my solitary existence.
“The ring given by one partner to the other during a marriage ceremony”.
On the 6° of July 2016, in the Archivio Carlo Palli in Prato – in the presence of seven witnesses: video-makers and photographers – I created my first performance project, intended to represent the moment of my conscious starting out towards Art, my break with the past towards a future of representation in reality: from that date on, I wear a gold wedding band on the ring finger of my left hand. On the inside, the ring bears the inscription: “Arte e Reverie, 6 luglio 2016”. I needed to explain through this action, carried out live at 4pm that day in a place which did not represent a church but rather the cathedral of my childhood, spent between Leonardo Da Vinci and Beppe Chiari and as such my relationship with Art: a necessary and essential presence to which I have decided to dedicate every single instant of my life. It is for this reason that I do not use either an apostrophe or a lowercase letter to talk about It. I lead a Spartan life, never losing sight of the needs of my body, my mind and my spirit, I prefer isolation in spite of my constant awareness of the world and what happens outside my sphere.
I have a pure life.
My daily life is bare of any sort of physical contact with the world, whereas my work and my activity as an artist are constantly touched by the contaminations and exchanges necessary to render my purity ever stronger and paradoxically, intangible.