The project interweaves several threads relating to the history and present of Italian feminism, taking the form of a dual-screen video installation connected to a series of photographs.
The patio garden of the historical feminist centre Casa Internazionale delle Donne in Rome becomes the site of a casting and of re-enactments staged with a group of Roman women of different ages. These refer to a series of documentary photographs from 1972 showing feminist gatherings and consciousness-raising groups in Milan, Rome and Venice. The photographs originally appeared in a small book titled La strada più lunga (The Longest Road) by photographer Maria Grazia Chinese, published by the first Roman feminist collective Rivolta femminile. The casting scenes are based on poems, diary notes and dream reports by author, art critic and radical feminist Carla Lonzi who – together with Carla Accardi and Elvira Banotti – was one of the founders of Rivolta femminile and iconic leader of the Italian feminist revolt in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Casa is one of the most important historical seats of Roman feminism. Located in the Trastevere Quarter within a historic urban complex called Buon Pastore, it was erected as a women’s prison in the beginning of the 17th century. In 1983, it was transformed into a social centre for women and was squatted by feminist collectives a few years later. After long negotiations, a legal agreement was made to turn the site into the official institution that exists until today. In recent years, however, the city government has made numerous attempts to shut down the Casa, thereby threatening to erase an important part of feminist history. Thus, this project also wants to highlight the difficult situation this institution finds itself in presently.
The feral garden of the Casa appears as paradisal refuge and safe space – a utopian site at the intersection of nature and culture and metaphor for Lonzi’s thinking. It also references the role of gardens in feminist image production as sites of exchange of female experience, of intellectual and libidinal encounters and of rehearsals of queer sexualities. Its fragile equilibrium is a symbol of resistance against the planned destruction of the Casa: the women in the re-staged photographs refer to Chinese’s original templates in their positions, gestures, gazes and interactions, thus becoming characters between fiction and reality, linking visual and political cultures of past and present forms of feminism.
Production: City Art Gallery Ljubljana / Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana & Künstlerhaus WienExhibition curators: Alenka Gregorič & Felicitas Thun-HohensteinArtist: Constanze RuhmTexts: Constanze RuhmVideo concept & direction: Constanze RuhmD.O.P.: Hannes BöckActresses: Rebecca Cipolla, Chiara Costantini, Benedetta Colantoni, Giada Foletto, Saret Lusi, Valentina Mei, Nicole Papa, Elettra Luna Pandolfi, Letizia Santillan, Rosa Vannucci, Gemma Vannuzzi, Claudia Zanetti & Maila Iacovelli (photographer) & Giovanna Olivieri (Archivist)Voice overs: Maria Iorio, Gemma VannuzziSound: Celeste FrontinoEditing: Hannes Böck, Constanze RuhmProduction Rome: Domiziana de FulvioProduction Assistant: Chiara CerrettiniText: Carla Lonzi, Paola StelliferiMusic: Avete mai guardato – Canzoniere Femminista, Canti di donne in lottaSet Photographer: Maila IacovelliTranscriptions & Translations: Valentina Comastri, Constanze RuhmSubtitling: Valentina ComastriPhotographs: Hannes BöckThe exhibition was made possible by: Ministry of culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Slowenisches Kulturinformationszentrum SKICA, City of Ljubljana, Department for Culture, City of Vienna, Austria kultur, The Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture, The Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Austrian Cultural Forum Ljubljana, Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport of the Republic of Austria
Acknowledgements: Casa Internazionale delle donne (Mednarodna hiša žensk), Annamaria Licciardello
Project by Constanze Ruhm entitled La strada (è ancora) più lunga is part of the exhibition When Gesture Becomes Event at the Mestna galerija Ljubljana.
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