Critics’ Picks

View of “Anna Perach: Gasp,” 2021.

View of “Anna Perach: Gasp,” 2021.


Anna Perach

Via dei Genovesi 35
May 29–September 25, 2021

“Gasp” is the title Anna Perach's inaugural exhibition at the ADA gallery. The convulsive intake of exhaustion and shock, the onomatopoeic wheeze of those who flee, the attempt to recover one’s breath, it introduces us to the theme of this small yet stunning show: the objectification and subjugation of the female body through Western history.

Daphne, 2021, a life-size sculpture of an acephalous and amputated female body in tufted yarn, reinhabits the pose of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s immortal nymph (1622-25), captured in marble at the moment she was touched by Apollo. Perach's work omits the male figure, the manifestation of an overbearing and oppressive patriarchy. As recounted by Ovid, Daphne transfigured into a tree to evade the god’s advances, but he nonetheless took possession of her in arboreal form, telling her, “you shall be my tree. My lure, my locks, my quiver you shall wreathe.” Laurel branches signifying Daphne’s metamorphosis appear in a second bust resting on the floor (Transformer, 2021), piercing this bodily fragment.

Meanwhile, a hemp rope hanging like a clothesline draws a diagonal across the room. It supports seven decapitated heads, again made from tufted yarn, dangling from butcher's hooks (Seven Wives, 2020). Maiden, hunter, lover, queen, mystic, sage, and mother (inspired by Jung's female archetypes as well as by the hanged wives of Bluebeard in the eponymous fairy tale) look out at us; a multicolored folkloric fantasy moderates the real violence of patriarchal domination. Music composed by Jaime Hamilton, which mixes rhythmic and strident sounds, creates a suspended and syncopated atmosphere that intensifies the visual experience. The artist’s hand-tufting process refers to the feminized labor of carpet making while eliciting a haptic and vitalistic response to the sculptures, which almost encourage us to touch their surfaces, perhaps to exorcize the demons within.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.