Il portico 

text by Caterina Molteni


March 2 – May 30, 2020

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For several years, Benni Bosetto has been questioning the nature of identity, placing the body as the epicenter of her investigation. From practices of fabrication of the self present in ancient and contemporary rituals, to states of semi-consciousness implemented in meditation and sleep, up to the observation of matter as a witness of invisible transformations, the artist has explored the possibilities of a renewed relationship with ourselves and with reality in order to go beyond the usual methods of knowledge.

Il portico arises from the desire of investigating a temporal form which, as opposed to a linear conception of time, finds its answer in cyclicity and in the theory of reincarnation, opening up the possibility of arriving at a new, or ancient, paradigm of reality. Looking at the latest research in the field of quantum physics, time does not appear as a concatenation of events developed along an infinite line, but as a convection that allows human beings to orient themselves in their experience of the world.

The project, which consists of an environmental installation, drawings applied to clothing and a performance, is the result of a series of meetings held by the artist with mediums and seers who have brought to light her past and future lives. With the conviction of having a story that does not end in the current biological one, the artist and, more generally human beings, stand as part of a universe of transmission of characters and inclinations, which find home and custody in a body that over the centuries has been able to change shape, genus, species. In the stories, which see the artist living, among others, the life of a Poor Clare nun, a gypsy who died at the stake, a dolphin and a scribe from the ancient Egypt, an element remains constant which is difficult to find definition - soul, spirit, life force, breath - and which appears, in the theory of reincarnation, as a unifying element among living beings: the possible image of a transiting and nomadic being.

Through a series of folk songs which texts were entrusted to third parties and interpreted musically by the performers on stage, Bosetto recalls the history of her ancestors. The artist entrusts the story of her lives to the oral transmission system of popular culture, in which stories, anecdotes and legends remain in the memory of a community for centuries, crossing multiple geographical regions. It is therefore a porch, the gathering place of the peasant communities but also a stop for travelers in search of fortune, to host the whole project. A space of wakefulness that allowed communicative and expressive exchanges between families, relatives, neighbors, opening the community to creating links with their own history. Through singing, among the most common activities in these shared moments, it is possible to give body to what seems to be past. The sound, thanks to its vibrating nature, allows the temporary manifestation of a physicality that in a cathartic way influences the participants in the action, rooting in them the awareness of a more extensive temporal origin than that is usually confined to the relationship between birth, growth and death.

Some hanging garments evoke an inhabited space, the stories told to the artist, linked together by the presence of small pipes, fluids and external forces, are decipherable on them. The human and non-human body is the protagonist of state changes, erotic practices, violent deaths and love relationships. In this context, recalling the reading that Derrida gives of the Nietzschean theory of eternal return, not only the concept of linearity of time that governs the temporal history of the western world is questioned, but the foundations are laid for a thought that admits the eternal constitution of being in the different.

This means that reality is not constituted in the return of the identical, but in the continuous affirmation of the different and the multiple that manifests itself first of all in the creative capacity of living beings that find their correspondence with the world in the continuous redefinition of themselves. In this sense, identity, in its wandering from one condition to another, takes shape in its being trans-formed, trans-figured and, why not, simultaneously multiple, here today, a few million years ago, in ten years, at the same time.


Courtesy of the artist and ALMANAC, London/Turin
Photos by Sebastiano Pellion

LAYR, Vienna
High Art, Paris
Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand
Der Tank of the Art Institute, Basel
Lafayette Anticipations, Paris
Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon
JTT, New York
Édouard Montassut, Paris