Commonplace, Ruskin Gallery
So, there is an idea of “move” at the root of my work, not to be considered in the sense of mere travel. Frequent moves have forced me to confront complex realities, often unknown to me, wherein I’ve had to immerse myself by necessity.
Since the 1990s, when attention toward that area was not yet so keen in public discussion, I turned to the Arab world, where I lived and worked for about three years. It was precisely in Morocco that I began developing certain features of my work which today still tie me to that culture, and which I then further elaborated in the Middle East, in Egypt and in Ethiopia. In those years I enhanced and sharpened a taste for ancient ornamentation and for the mark in general – such as the indelible mark that the zibibba impresses on the forehead of the worshippers who rest their heads in prayer on the carpet every day – as I was already inclined to by my Sicilian origin.
Meanwhile, though, the world went through a deep change. What was a research to me, at the beginning of my career in the arts, has now become a political and sociological debate. But, regardless of anything, my research proceeds in the original direction that has led me here.
The mark I suggested for ‘PLACE’ is meant to draw attention to a figure that everyone should be familiar with, even if not immediately recognizable, because it can be seen in schoolbooks, on newspapers or on television. To some, maybe, this image so soft and delicate – yet also vast and invasive – first of all will bring to mind the origin of civilization, whilst to others instead it will appear as a reference to the wars of recent years: one way or the other, this mark takes us to the heart of History.
The idea of “invasion” as well, more in the intellectual than in the physical sense, was at the centre of other works of mine, like in the series of embroideries No, Non li sopporto, Nausea, Senza (No, I can’t stand them, Nausea, Without), which I submitted right after I came back from Egypt, following a stay of over a year. In this instance, again, the work is based on a mark, a mark which, by paradox, came to represent my inability to communicate with a world that, rather than becoming clearer, in the course of time seemed more and more impenetrable to me. I decided not to be the material producer of this mark myself, but to have it done by local professionals, so as to underline how an inextricable, suffocating knot can develop even through a conflicted relationship between host and guest.
Given the autobiographical nature of my research, of course, in many of my works you may find a thin thread linking me back to the most intimate dimension of my origin: Sicily, my family and the name I bear. In a work from 2008, E così ora lo sai… (So now you know…), the mark is coming from the thick handwriting in an old notebook written by my father – he read it himself during the vernissage – where his own father’s memoirs create the thread in our family, an indelible trace passing from one generation to the other, names changing, origins blurring, surnames imposed and parents never found again.