Tomaso Binga

Tomaso Binga, Alfabetiere murale, 1976. Collezione Archivio Menna-Binga, Roma. In comodato a Madre · museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Napoli. Foto © Amedeo Benestante. | Tomaso Binga, Alfabetiere murale / Mural Alphabet, 1976. Archivio Menna-Binga collection, Rome. On loan to Madre · museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples. Photo © Amedeo Benestante.

Tomaso Binga is the alter ego of Bianca Menna, a pseudonym that over time has become almost indissolubly fused with her persona, the expression of an artist who has consistently worked for more than forty years in the fields of poetry and painting, investigating the subtile relations and possible connections between them. The practice of art as writing, which has accompanied her whole artistic-existential development, is given its organic fulfillment in the use of speech, gesture and the body. From her first performance entrusted to gesture (Vista Zero, 1972), and gesture and writing (Nomenclatura and l’Ordine Alfabetico 1973-1974), she passed in 1977 with Poesia Muta, Ti scrivo solo di Domenica, Io Sono una Carta, to poetic performances entrusted exclusively to the sound of the word as a markedly feminist sign and denunciation of all the most pressing social issues related to the status of women who suffer from the restrictions of a society that is still brutally male-dominated.
Tomaso Binga has reassessed the values of rhythm and the timbre of the word to give warmth and color to the harmonies of verse, where signifier and the signified are entwined and alternate in a continuous and controlled interplay of prevarication. Irony and the bizarre, denunciation and desecration, nonsense and common-places, are the principal ingredients of these performative poems which, together with sound poetry, are enriched with the bodily energy necessary to establish a more direct medium between the text and its viewer. The artist works on the very boundaries of speech and on the edges of painting, experimenting with forms and patterns, instruments and techniques, striking and unusual resolutions. To make this relationship even more disturbing, the artist uses not only words and pictures but also voice and body, gestures and her whole being. Speech, reduced to its primary and essential elements, and imagery are accompanied by voice and body language. The body and experience thus become the place where words and graphic signs, the visual, the literary and the poetic, are blended and merge. The transition from image to writing is, in this sense, almost a natural transformation. In two works from 1972, for example, Attesa and Silenzio, Binga introduces speech in order to highlight the significance of an image of woman represented in the first work by a face placed behind a prison window, and in the second, a face devoid of mouth. In a later stage, from the series of Paesaggi, words accompany iconic signs until they become images themselves. Binga has then continued to work in this direction by progressively reducing the semantic component of writing, relating words to signs.
In this respect, written poetry, visual poetry and recited poetry in their construction all become progressive scansions of the same idea. Significantly “my body is also the body of the word,” says the artist, because Binga, as Stefania Zuliani has pointed out, is a “total poet who with inflexible exuberance shuns the restrictions of gender and seeks above all things to belong to the world, constructing a flexible alphabet of her own made up of signs and gestures, sounds, accents and irreverent inventions, working precisely on the body, on her own body as a woman, outside the conventions and all social connotations, becoming unequivocally a letter and symbol.”