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Giulia Tognon: Part of your practice consists of forwarding invitations. On the occasion of your participation in residencies and exhibitions you have in turn invited visual artists, musicians and performers to share with you a stage, a moment of visibility, always keeping some traces of your work on display. This was also one of the first elements you pointed at when initially discussing LIANE~LINEA~ALIEN. Is it a critique of the artist as author or rather a desire to bring people together?
Dafne Boggeri: Both, it’s a mix of these perspectives. In this case I was particularly interested in collaborating with performance and dance collective Stasis, a group of people with internal codes and dynamics that would devote themselves to interpret movements only perceived by the public as sound. I like to think that in the mezzanine of via Rezia a small community was generated during the opening, with an alphabet of movements of the body related to gravity, in dialogue with the rest but with its own autonomy.
G.T.: The choice to invite TISANA and musicians Babakoto, Hazina, Elena Radice on the occasion of PAAUW resonates with your practice of creating choral moments through sound. Yet for BLACK MARIA cinema the symbolic and political importance of the projects presented opens the question of the distribution and transmission of specific contents…
D.B.: BLACK MARIA cinema, long before the themes, was born out of the desire to establish a connection between Marsèlleria and another space in Milan with a strong identity, in order to open and widen the trajectories between these two spots, both physically and symbolically. The choice of Donna Haraway: Story Telling For Earthly Survival came after seeing the poster on the catalogue of Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Bruxelles. I immediately tore off that page to keep it, I was amazed by its incredible declaration of proximity with another video by Donna Haraway from 1987, little known and self-produced, that continues to surprise for its originality: Donna Haraway Reads The National Geographic on Primates. That’s when I considered the idea of screening the two titles together to offer a more complete reading of the highly powerful imaginary of the philosopher. I’ve been wanting to promote Born in Flames in Italy for years and when, thanks to Cinenova, I got in touch with Lizzie Borden, I was hoping the film would resonate less with our current political situation than it did after the American elections. It’s important to highlight the intergenerational nature of the projects, to give a voice, a visibility to experiences like Haraway’s and Borden’s.
The three video documents should be able to give life to a panorama full of possibilities and perspectives, reinforced by the extraordinary opening of the spaces adjoining the film theatre, the cocktail Dry Eye, the light sign designed by Kaisa Lassinaro, the DJ set by Maria Guggenbichler and the installation in the basket court on the theme of the Third Landscape, term by Gilles Clément that defines those fragments of land that abandoned by man are restored to the control of nature.
G.T.: How did you first encounter Donna Haraway?
D.B.: It was initially through cyberpunk and cyberfeminist theories. Even if I come from hip-hop culture, in a very physical and unmediated way, I encountered personalities like Rammelzee, Afrika Bambaata and experimental musician Sun Ra, that contributed to securing some ties with those worlds. But I only got to understand the specific character of Donna in 2012, collaborating indirectly with Silvia Casalino on her project No Gravity, a film on women in space that Haraway contributed to with a long interview.
G.T.: Where does your passion for astronomy - which features as your official occupation on your ID - come from?
D.B.: It’s an ancestral feeling that I link to my first episode of self-diagnosed melancholy. I was 8 years old, my mum had left for a few days and I spent a whole night sobbing looking at the sky. The only thing that could comfort me was staring at the stars searching for signs of reassurance. Years later I found myself deeply attached to that nocturnal dimension when painting as a writer, outdoor, under the night sky. Somehow I feel like I know how to interpret it, but I have no feedback in that respect. I’m also really fascinated by the architecture of observatories, among my favourite buildings in every city I visit. The Griffith in L.A., combined with images of the Hoepli in Milan, was the subject of a video I presented at the 2008 edition of Netmage curated by Xing, in Bologna, with live contributions by the special band Rhythm King and Her Friends.
G.T.: Even the title of the closing event of the project - PAAUW - is linked to an observatory.
D.B.: Paauw is the native name of a group of mountains in California, first renamed ‘Sierra del Palomar’ in 1840 by the Spanish govern, and eventually Mount Palomar, home of the Palomar Observatory. The structure was fundamental in the research by Vera Rubin, evoked in the exhibition with a detail from the cleaning of the mirror of the Hale telescope.
G.T.: In this respect anecdotes have such a specific presence and materiality in your practice, that origins and coordinates of objects become a defining part of your works. In the continuous observation of your surroundings I can imagine you finding and accumulating objects that seem to be waiting for you; if it’s impossible to move them you capture the details you’re interested in: puns, catchphrases and jingles, mutations imposed by nature, non functional anomalies. Is the anecdote a legitimation of your work, the opportunity to create narratives and imagine scenarios or is it a way to evoke your encounters with these objects?
D.B.: I think it might be the possibility or the illusion that the destiny of both of us might be changed in this encounter and that this change might be renewed every time the anecdote is recalled. Compared to legends or historical facts, anecdotes are met with less expectations or pressure. They’re more chilled.
G.T.: Talking about aliens, I realised that the fingers in the poster you included in the show might as well be the artificial hands missing from our bizarre E.T. It turns around, scanning the room but doesn’t seek any contact. It’s that gesture of reaching out we were missing!
D.B.: The contact is created with the poster people can bring home.
G.T.: Posters are often part of your shows. What was the transition from the D.I.Y. atmosphere of collectives and parties, where posters have a specific function of documentation and promotion, to becoming art works?
D.B.: I might be a victim of the Félix González-Torres’ complex. I love collecting poster and enjoy situations where multiples or editions are accessible to the public. I am trying to replicate this experience.
G.T.: So behind your obsession for printed matter there’s a practice of accumulation.
D.B.: There’s the idea of accumulation yes, but also the idea of creating opportunities for making gifts and an anxiety towards the concept of uniqueness. If you say ‘unique copy’ I start feeling imaginary symptoms. To me ransforming these multiples into unique copies - by touching, rolling and bringing home the posters - has a therapeutic value.
G.T.: Tell me about two elements you seem to be attached to and you included in the show: radiators and stencils.
D.B.: During the residency at Fondazione Ratti (Como) we visited the kindergarten Sant'Elia designed by Giuseppe Terragni and I was struck by the traces of dust over a number of radiators. To me they were four voices of a choir and became the subject of an edition of posters. Rather than documenting the architecture by Terragni, I felt it was important to keep record of traces that soon would have been deleted, to give visibility to what was considered out of place, non functional, an interference. That message of time, a choreography of air, needed to be shown and appreciated. In the space of via Rezia the work on the radiators wants to create a different perception of the room, turning elements that are usually invisible to our eyes suddenly into fundamentals components, radiators now transformed into launching pads.
Stencils are a supports to generate signs that, despite being standardised can be highly expressive, are in their nature somehow sculptural. The illusion they attempt to enforce - of uniformity and universal rules - is both reassuring and and disturbing. I collect them like letters of an alphabet I don’t know.
G.T.: You confessed that at home you have a collection of objects you stole from exhibitions. Are you hoping something will be stolen from your show at Marsèlleria?
D.B.: Yes, it already happened and it was beautiful. The final result is always the opposite of the initial gesture! It was on the occasion of an installation I did at the Galleria Civica di Trento in 2007 where someone stole a copy of the dyke zine KUTT by Jessica Gysel, project that has evolved into Girls Like Us magazine, which unfortunately was the only exemplary I had. I like to imagine that behind this episode were the spirits of Jean Genet and Violet Leduc who, frantically running across the spaces of the Galleria, found the perfect object of their desire.
The rest of the interview is published here on NERO
— Dafne Boggeri | Marsèlleria by Marco Arrigoni on ATP
— Il sublime alieno di Dafne Boggeri by Gloria Maria Cappelletti on ID Italia
— Perché dobbiamo cambiare il modo di raccontare la realtà per sopravvivere by Giulia Trincardi on MOTHERBOARD
— Il film distopico anni '80 che racconta il femminismo di lotta by Giulia Trincardi on MOTHERBOARD
— LIANE~LINEA~ALIEN by Marta Collini on ZERO