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Lessico Famigliare / Family Talk + Bryan Zanisnik: Weekend Warrior

Guy Ben-Ner (IL), Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen(NL), Ettore Favini (IT), Petra Feriancová (SK), Aaron Gilbert (US),Kristyna and Marek Milde (CZ/US), Moira Ricci (IT), Eva Seufert (DE),Irgin Sena (AL), Ji?í Skála (CZ), Ji?í Thýn (CZ), Patrick Tuttofuoco(IT), Nico Vascellari (IT), Bryan Zanisnik (US)

Curated by Marco Antonini

June 5 – August 26, 2012
FUTURA, Center for Contemporary Art, Prague.

In the 1963 novel Lessico Famigliare (known in English-speaking countries as What we Used to Say or Family Sayings, but more correctly translatable as Familiar Lexicon) Natalia Ginzburg uses her apparently detached and ironically humorous family memoir as a device to highlight the ritualistic importance of words and constructed behavior as driving forces behind family unity. By the end of Ginzburg’s dry and discreet autobiography, now unanimously considered a masterpiece of post-war Italian literature, the reader is completely immersed in her family’s recurring jokes, ritual exclamations and ordinary nonsense, a repertoire of assorted little obsessions that stands out as an independent “character” in the novel.

In a 1963 unsigned introduction to the book, a writer usually identified as Italo Calvino defines Family as something mostly made of  “voices, intertwining over the table during dinner or lunch, scoldings, jokes, disjointed gags, sentences that we hear over and over again, at every given occasion.” In time, this ritual lingo becomes a real language, only clear to those who practice it daily: the family members. This, to Calvino, is the mysterious something that characterizes and bonds together the entity we call Family. In Ginzburg’s novel this secret lexicon is projected over a vast repertoire of quirky and often neurotically ritualistic gestures, images and allusions, describing her family nest as a totalizing environment.

In recent times, artists have sublimated a generational uneasiness in forming “new,” conventional family bonds by creating works that explore, deconstruct and problematize the experience of and interaction with their own familiar contexts. Bypassing the mandates of a contemporary society that seems to have no room for permanent and committed relationships, the works in this exhibition speak of an increasing fascination with traditional and alternative family structures and rituals. Resonating with the humor and sentimental honesty of Ginzburg’s Lexicon, they are haunted by a sincere desire for closer relationships, intimate exchanges and familiar identification. The artists’ strategies vary according to personality and circumstances, ranging from analytical detachment to over-identification to playful, semi-serious exploration.

In their artworks, Guy Ben-Ner (IL), Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen(NL), Ettore Favini (IT), Petra Feriancová (SK), Aaron Gilbert (US),Kristyna and Marek Milde (CZ/US), Moira Ricci (IT), Eva Seufert (DE),Irgin Sena (AL), Ji?í Skála (CZ), Ji?í Thýn (CZ), Patrick Tuttofuoco(IT), Nico Vascellari (IT) and Bryan Zanisnik (US) alternatively represent family as a safe harbor, a quasi sacred hyper reality or an informal, affinity-based community. Very often, the family (or elements culled from the familiar context) become artistic material, a set of variables to for the artist to work with. Although belonging to different generations and individually preoccupied with a remarkably heterogeneous set of themes and problems, the artists in this exhibition all share an interest in the system of signs and codes at the foundation of an extended and permeable notion of Family: a self-determined idea as open to criticism as to constructive reinvention.

<> A catalog/eBook with texts and images on the project (English)
<> Interview with Simone Ciglia for Flash Art Italy
(Italian only)
<> Press release for “Weekend Warrior” (English)

<> Link to a video Interview dedicated to the exhibition on Artikoc TV

 

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