Chiara Fumai, Chiara Fumai reads Valerie Solanas, 2012–13.

Chiara Fumai (1978–2017)

Italian artist Chiara Fumai, best known for her performative and multimedia works that engage radical feminism, media culture, language, and repression, has died. The thirty-nine-year-old artist committed suicide. She was found dead in the Doppelgaenger gallery in Bari, Italy, Antonella Marino of La Repubblica reports.

Born in Rome in 1978, Fumai worked as a DJ of underground techno music for many years before she became involved in performance art. She participated in Documenta 13, where she presented The Moral Exhibition House, 2012, a one-hundred-day performance based on Italian radical feminist literature, in which she channeled Annie Jones, the famous “Bearded Lady” of the Victorian era, and freak show performer Zalumma Agra, and for which she created a fictional campaign for feminist Valerie Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto. Written in 1967, the manifesto intended to demonstrate men’s inferiority. For the performance, Fumai allowed Solanas to take over her body and voice to recite excerpts from the work. “I believe that living the artwork in a total way is an intense and generous way of staying in the world.”

For Contour 7, the Biennial of Moving Image, Fumai rewrote the story of her live acts into a séance for The Book of Evil Spirits, 2015. Her works have been exhibited and screened at the 2009 Venice Film Festival; the Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Overgarden Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen; Museon Arts Park, Moscow; the Fiorucci Art Trust, London; MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome; and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo.

In the April 2014 issue of Artforum, Marco Tagliafierro wrote that Fumai’s “studies have led her to compare her experiences as a woman and as an artist to those of other women intellectuals whose expressions went beyond accepted boundaries and were capable of challenging the historical structure of patriarchal society . . . In her work, the stories of these women are woven into a dense tangle from which it seems impossible to trace the origins of their discourse.”