The exhibition by Giulia Piscitelli (Naples, 1965) at the Madre is the most extensive solo exhibition devoted to the Neapolitan artist ever presented in an Italian public institution. “INTERMEDIUM,” the title chosen for the exhibition, is a Latin word understood in the sense of “being in the middle” between the limits of space and time, and indicates a creative process not yet complete, hence open to further possibilities. By bringing together works produced since the early 90s, many of them never shown before, from discolored paintings on cloth to photographs, site-specific installations and video documents, the exhibition highlights the different aspects of the artist’s production, with a particular focus on her exploration of the social, economic and cultural geography of the heart of Naples. This is not a retrospective, but rather an overview of the artist’s creative process, which is never performed in isolation but made up of moments set in a continuum of ideas and objects, which, in turn, are reused and returned to play, so gaining a further potential significance.
It is therefore far from accidental that some of the works produced over the years are now being exhibited for the first time at the Madre. This is the case with S.A.M., a video edited for the occasion, and a collection of images shot in the 90s at Studio Aperto Multimediale, an independent laboratory-space founded in 1992 by Piscitelli with Lorenzo Scotto di Luzio and Pasquale Cassandro. The photographic works and videos collected in the project La Mela are also to be presented for the first time on the occasion of the exhibition: archival images in which the artist reveals the duality of an Italian emigrant to America who combines his work as a restaurateur with an irrepressible and unclassifiable creative urge, a true hymn to freedom of expression. This and other works allude to a path of self- knowledge which involves various elements such as daily work, the body, sexual identity, memory and death, all in some way related to the need for pacification with the discordant forces that inhabit the ego and all designed to create a sort of suspension between past and present, between what one was and what one will become. This is the concept expressed in her most recent works: Tree, where, between two tapestries depicting sections of a tree trunk, the viewer remains “in between”; the Rendiresto series created out of marble, a crystallization that immortalizes the manifold variety of social trade-offs and economic negotiations; Contested Zones, an installation consisting of streamers glued to the wall that recreate an architectural barrier at Nisida Porto Paone, which houses the juvenile detention center. The barrier, dividing the prison from the beach, is a symbol of division, of the social intermedium and territorial cohesion, but here it becomes a threshold that is easily passed, flimsy, brittle; Tre carte, a project that consists of a lithographic stone matrix for printing playing cards, three wall hangings, made by discoloring their fabric with bleach, which respectively reproduce the three playing cards, and a video which shows the artist’s hands doing the three-card trick, using transparent rectangles placed on the matrix itself.
In all these projects, ranging freely from one medium to another, without any apparent continuity, Piscitelli investigates the experience of a paradoxical vitality of living and creating “despite everything,” from which emerges the oppositional profile of a struggle that is aesthetic and poetic even more than political. Between realism and the surreal, by articulating issues such as the relation between life and death, the interweaving and reciprocal definition of joy, sex, pain and illness, examining the mechanisms of exploitation and social exclusion, gender dynamics, the languages of folklore and popular communication, Piscitelli explores the very meaning of creating art in a human and social condition which seems to be able to do without art … yet cannot.