Materiality and Immateriality

List of Illustrations:

Fig. 1. Mirella Bentivoglio, Object, 1996.

Available at:https://www.google.com/search?q=mirella+bentivoglio&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBGB719GB719&sxsrf=ACYBGNQQwNviU2K3QvEc9Jsn9CZQyrtMVg:1572188656526&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=SkReOhnXy7zHFM%253A

(Accessed: 30 October 2019)……………………………………………………p.4

Fig.2. Fig. 2. Ketty La Rocca, artista verbovisima e del gesto. II Giornale Blog – IIGiornale.it (Carlo Franca II Giornale Blog – IIGiornale.it, 2018)

Available at: http://blog.ilgiornale.it/franza/2018/04/08/ketty-la-rocca-artista-verbovisiva-e-del-gesto-una-mostra-al-pac-di-ferrara-fa-luce-su-una-protagonista-degli-anni-60-e-70/

(Accessed: 30 October 2019)……………………………………………………p.6

Fig.3. Fig. 3. John Coplans, Self-portrait (Back with Arms Above), 1984. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/john-coplans-2353 (Accessed: 30 October 2019)……………………………………………………………………..p.7

The two articles ‘Unruly Representation: Materiality, Indexicality and agency of the photographic trace’ by Janne Seppanen (2017) and ‘Notes on the Index, Continued: Italian Feminism and the Art of Mirella Bentivoglio and Ketty La Roccca’ by Leslie Cozzi (2013) both analyse indexicality and agency in photography, which is a means to catch the momentum of any object.

The aim of Seppanen’s (2001) article is to examine ‘photographic representation as a material and indexical trace caused by photons reflected and/or emitted from the photographed objects’ (Seppanen, 2017, p.113). It also argues ‘therefore, the photograph both is and is not a representation’ (Seppanen, 2017, p.113). The original trace of a photographed object is invisible and it appears later due special chemicals or can be a digital version of an image.

A whole material and immaterial world consists of invisible extremely tiny particles, their quantity and frequency of vibration that is an object of quantum physics. Quantum physics is ‘the branch of physics that deals with the behavior of matter at the level of the atom, the nucleus, and the elementary particle’ (Dictionary.com, LLC, 2019).

The photography and its process is probably the most suitable example how invisible world becomes visible and material. ‘The common-sense view is that matter is tangible and palpable, something one can touch, characterised by dimension and weigh’ (Seppanen, 2017, p.116). The scientific process of photography which is analysed in the article is not considered, only the final product – a classical photograph or its digital imagine as a piece of artwork or a long lasting documentary.

During the decades 1960s and 1970s female artists began to participate in visual arts in Italy. Leslie Cozzi in her article ‘Notes on the Index, Continued: Italian Feminism and the Art of Mirella Bentivoglio and Ketty La Rocca’ analyses Maria Antonietta Trasforini’s ideas in ‘Deconstruzionise ante letteram (2001) about the thirty-eight Italian women artists group including Mirella Bentivoglio and Ketty La Rocca whom the article is dedicated to. According to Trasforini, ‘their work different in format and media, each of these women combined both language and image’ (Cozzi, 2013, para. 2).

The purpose of this essay is to analyse Bentivoglio and La Rocca’s visual poetry in their artworks, in terms of linguistic shifts and photography art. Trasforini ‘considers these works examples of post-modernist deconstruction’ (Cozzi, 2013, para. 4) and examines their art as melting the boundaries between genres which gains social importance in the consumerists society.

Mirella Bentivoglio was a poet and only in 1968 she became more a visual artist rather than a poet. The link between a poet and a visual artist ‘demonstrate the capacities of women artists’ (Cozzi, 2013, para. 12). The famous Bentivoglio’s imagine of ‘I’ and ‘O’ represents ‘not simply a picture of the artist and her work, but a picture of the artist as work’ (Cozzi, 2013, para. 8). Bentivoglio performs herself a letter I and I as a person and ‘’io’’ as a pronoun. Her famous letter O was to create a piece of art Object (see Fig.1).

Fig.1. Mirella Bentivoglio, Object, 1996.

Available at:https://www.google.com/search?q=mirella+bentivoglio&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBGB719GB719&sxsrf=ACYBGNQQwNviU2K3QvEc9Jsn9CZQyrtMVg:1572188656526&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=SkReOhnXy7zHFM%253A%252Cp5EX21rOK1vA3M%252C%252Fm%252F02pr56s&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kQtKcoIhG5pTIPYT313ndqOqAcVBQ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwirnpGT27zlAhWTsnEKHQs7DmMQ_B0wCnoECAoQAw#imgrc=gjQEeRr8TOnRWM:&vet=1

(Accessed: 30 October 2019)

Ketty La Rocca’s art represents her experience in a linguistic shifts using signs of the roads, photos of her hands and skull in the Craniologie series (see Fig. 2) just before her death. Her body part becomes powerful art in one piece via photography, x-ray and handwriting. The series of self-portrait photos is like an open book to the world of her different psychological states. According to Rocca’s belief, ‘the language of hand gestures was more immediate and less mediated mode of communication than other types of visual symbols’ (Cozzi, 2013, para. 19). A shifter as a linguistic sign in art depends on the context and plays much on it in her creative works.

Fig. 2. Ketty La Rocca, artista verbovisima e del gesto. II Giornale Blog – IIGiornale.it (Carlo Franca II Giornale Blog – IIGiornale.it, 2018)

Available at: http://blog.ilgiornale.it/franza/2018/04/08/ketty-la-rocca-artista-verbovisiva-e-del-gesto-una-mostra-al-pac-di-ferrara-fa-luce-su-una-protagonista-degli-anni-60-e-70/

(Accessed: 30 October 2019)

The Trasforini essay discusses this generation of Italian artists with the link to American artists. One of them is a British photographer John Coplans, (see Fig. 2) who emigrated to the United States of America in 1960. He used his naked body at the age of 60 for the self-portraits photos which represents human beings. Series photos of hands in unexpected compositions offer a portrait of a whole personality.

Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above) 1984 John Coplans 1920-2003 Presented by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Marsha Plotnitsky 2000 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P11671

Fig. 3. John Coplans, Self-portrait (Back with Arms Above), 1984. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/john-coplans-2353

(Accessed: 30 October 2019)

Both Mirella Bentivoglio and Ketty La Rocca use a linguistic meaning of artwork in relationship between artwork and its meaning as well as physical relation between an object and a person. Objects become multi-meaning explained in linguistic interpretations. ‘Rather than offering a translation of the artist’s vision of the world through the pictorial sign, the work offers the artist to the world’ (Cozzi, 2013, para. 14). It is women’s attempts to speak as women-artists and express their individual liberation, Cozzi, (2013, para. 23).

The momentum in time is not created just captured objectively and has more sense of neareness and closiness to the photograped objects rather than a painting. That the photos of both Mirella Bentivoglio and Ketty La Rocca’s art are more objective. Despite of the fact that both articles have different approaches to photography they have proved that photography as a fenomena, which process is invisible, it is materiality of memory and documentation.

References

Cozzi, L. (2013), ‘Notes on the Index, Continued:Italian Feminism and the Art of Mirella Bentivoglio and Ketty La Rocca’, Cahiers d’etudes italiennes, 16, 213-234. http://cei.revues.org/1238#text

Dictionary.com, LLC, 2019, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/quantum-mechanics

Seppanen, J. (2017) ‘Unruly Representation: Materiality, indexicalitty and agency of the photographic trace’, Photographies, 113-128.

John Tomlinson

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