Gina Pane, Azione sentimentale, 1974, colour photograph, 20 x 30 cm Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, © Gina Pane
When Lea Vergine wrote Body Art and Performance: The Body as Language in 1974, she brought together the work of women artists who use their body as a medium, as a language, as a means of asserting their identity in a brilliant and intelligent way.
Suzanne Santoro, Roman Statue with Sacra Miniatura, 1972, 2 photographs mounted on wood with polyester, 16 x 24 cm, Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, © Suzanne Santoro
Silvia Giambrone, Teatro anatomico [Anatomical Theatre], 2012, video, 5’11’’, Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, © Silvia Giambrone
The Richard Saltoun Gallery in London, one of whose specialties is body art, pays homage to Lea Vergine’s book for its 40th anniversary in an exhibition bearing its name. The exhibit explores the art of a few women artists who worked in Italy in the 1970’s, and whose work dealt especially with the body: Gina Pane, Ketty La Rocca, Suzanne Santoro, and Renate Bertlmann. These women all participated in the world of performance art, each with a different exploration of the body: Gina Pane in situations that pushed towards the extreme, Ketty La Rocca through a psycho-sociological analysis of feminine gestures, Suzanne Santoro in studying the “political” representation of the female sex in art history, and Renate Bertlmann by putting female sexuality and eroticism into situations in a social context.
Ketty La Rocca, Hands, 1975, pen and Indian ink over photograph, 22 x 15.5 cm, Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, © Ketty La Rocca
Their work is accompanied by photographs of performances by dancers Trisha Brown, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer directed by Fabio Sargentini, which took place in Rome Attico, one of the first private galleries to include performance art. The exhibition is complemented by the work of a younger generation, who has drawn inspiration from these artists. Represented by Silvia Giambrone Alice Schivardi, Sara Goldschmied, and Eleonora Chiari, this generation demonstrates the great vitality and continuity that exists, and conducts their work with a critical eye, exploring the dynamics of power.
At the Richard Saltoun gallery, October 9th–November 27th 2015