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8 February – 4 March 2005

Our body is the limit that separates us from the outside world, it is at the same time armour and a blanket of pores open to feeling. It is a space that captures happenings, a fragile territory in which sensations are felt, an insurmountable limit between outside and inside. Marzia Migliora

Marzia Migliora’s world is built of small things. Memory and personal experiences are the inspiration for her work which includes video, photography but also sculpture and installation. This young Turinese artist is often the centre of her own work. Putting herself into question becomes a means of self expression and growth - in this way her works represent a continuous exercise of self-knowledge. Testing the limits of one’s own body in order to strengthen the mind, influencing actions and thoughts, is a psychological strategy of resistance. Words become in her work a refined instrument to investigate the past, to play with memory evoking intense and ambiguous emotions.

Her performative way of creating clearly refers to the seventies feminist practice but Marzia Migliora, avoiding bloody actions, is able to develop work that invites us to reflect on the various possibilities, not only of the body but also of human personality. In her first solo show in Great Britain she presents two works Marianne (2002) and Family (2005).

Marianne, made in collaboration with Paolo Lavazza, is a sound installation, formed by 5 pairs of speakers that lie in a circle on the floor, linked by black electrical wire, each containing 1 quartz bowl. The bowls emit a hypnotic sound that seems to move around the room, they have a pentatonic tonal scale and each plays a single note (C, E, G, B flat, C). The speakers are set in counter phase, in a configuration called push/pull - this makes the quartz oscillate and produce autonomously audible frequencies. Moreover, this configuration creates an alteration in the directional perception of the sound. The result is a circularity of sound events that progressively form a single, vibrant matrix in which the listener is enveloped and captured. The hypnotic character of the work is stressed by a voice occasionally counting from 1 to 20 and back from 20 to 1, evoking the entrance and exit from hypnosis.

The inspiration for Marianne derives from the glass harmonica, an instrument invented in the 18th century, which vanished a few decades later. The unusual feature of the glass harmonica (or musical glasses) is the way in which the sounds spread through the air, confusing the listener as to their origin and arousing 'hypnotic' reactions. The strangeness of the sound from this instrument gave rise to a superstition that by listening to it one might go mad. This fear derived in part from the sad fortune of the most famous performers of works for the glass harmonica, both by a strange twist of fate called Marianne.

This installation is a utopian machine for inducing hypnosis. The self-generated quality of the sound seems to suggest the power our minds have of creating spaces of obsession, separate from reality. Marianne looks so frail while its sound has the power to obsessively enter our brains.

Marzia Migliora, in this exhibition, develops her research on hypnosis, a state of altered self- conscienceness that allows some buried memories to resurface and thus be resolved, used in the past as a form of psychoanalysis.

Family (2005) is a work composed of two parts that function together: a video installed in a white lacquered

base and an embroidery installed on the wall adjacent to the video. The video shows a woman, the artist, who

is slowly and meticulously undoing knots in her hair. The action is like a flow of conscience that runs

continuously, the woman never looks towards the public - she is enacting an intimate rite. The gesture

is both obsessive and liberatory, useful and absurd. The action is slow, it develops hypnotically with gestures

that are repeated automatically. “People tie knots in their handkerchief to remember things, people tie knots in

order to create order, to pull things together both physically and mentally as a way of remembering facts and

emotions. Knots are symbols of unbreakable relationships, knots are born autonomously from tangles of every

nature. Undoing a knot is a way of opposing any form of binding, it opposes any force that ties,” says Migliora.

The word FAMILY embroidered with human hair on paper is a strange kind of drawing. It represents at the

same time the tangle of hair from which the knots are born and the result of the un-tangling. The ‘family’ is

the first bond/knot we experience. Family is our source of nourishment and knowledge but soon it becomes

a web spun around us from which we feel we need to break free. Writing FAMILY with one’s own hair becomes

a way to reconduct all the knots, the problems to the family and thus Migiora’s action of detangling becomes

a way of breaking free from her psychological ‘knots’ and contradictions. On the other hand the care with

which the word is embroidered not only recalls the feminine values of the family but shows how this knot is

actually unbreakable because in order to write/embroider this word the artist has woven the hair in very fine

knots thus bringing the process back to its beginning. The video becomes in this way a sort of flash-back of the embroidery.

In the performance Download-now (2004), conceived in collaboration with Margherita Morgantin, held at

the Italian Cultural Institute, 11 people wearing felt hoods will move in the space around the public. Each hood

has two side protruding cones, like deformed ears, that hide two speakers that are connected to a CD

player hidden in the pocket of the performer. They diffuse sounds, sentences. It is as if whispered thoughts

have escaped by mistake creating stories, riddles and music. The space becomes dense of acoustic micro-events,

which put the viewer at the centre, the words both in Italian and English, are taken from a correspondence

between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, in which the two writers discuss love, daily life and their

passion for writing. The recordings for Download-now were made by LORENZO BIANCHI, CLETUS, ALICE GUARESCHI
MOU-LIPS and ( R ).

Ilaria Bonacossa

Junior Curator

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

The Performance of Download-now will be held at The Italian Cultural Institute, 39 Belgrave Square, London SW1

during a reception to mark the opening of the exhibition on Friday 4 February between 6.30 and 9pm.

Marzia Migliora, in 2004, had solo exhibitions at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, and Mart Museo d’arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rovereto, Italy and exhibited, in a two person exhibition, with Elisa Sighicelli at Gallerie Zurcher, Paris.

PERCYMILLER would like to thank, Ilaria Bonacossa, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Galleria Continua, The Italian Cultural Institute, Paolo Lavazza, Maia Sambonet and Stella Santacatterina for their support.

5 Vigo Street, London W1S 3HB

Gallery opening times:

Wednesday – Friday 11am – 6pm

Saturday 12 – 4pm


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