Critics’ Picks

Hilla Ben Ari, Na’amah: A Tribute to Nachum Benari, 2015, video, color, sound, 14 minutes 17 seconds.

Hilla Ben Ari, Na’amah: A Tribute to Nachum Benari, 2015, video, color, sound, 14 minutes 17 seconds.

Rome

Hilla Ben Ari and Alice Cattaneo

MLF | Marie-Laure Fleisch | Rome
Via di Pallacorda 15
June 22–September 12, 2015

The exhibition at Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch sets up a comparison between two languages that seem very different but share a functional and aesthetic viewpoint. While Hilla Ben Ari employs the expressiveness of the body and tells stories through images, Alice Cattaneo constructs abstract forms through materials and their reciprocal combinations.

Ben Ari shows Na’amah: A Tribute to Nachum Benari (all works 2015), an homage to her great-uncle who was an essayist and playwright. Issues of gender and other dynamics intrinsic to human relationships are described in the video without ever becoming pedantic. Projected on the wall, this work depicts individuals and groups forced into unstable and precarious positions or unnatural and uncomfortable configurations. Plotless, its story emphasizes bodies’ plasticity. A fly runs undisturbed over a tense forearm, a temporary stage has a plein air landscape as a backdrop, actors say their lines while assuming forced and improbable positions, and music absorbs noises and any surrounding suggestions. This all paints a surreal but tangible picture. Also included here is a second video, Drum, of a close-up of hands rhythmically caressing a percussion instrument.

In the same space, Alice Cattaneo transfers power, vulnerability, and insecurity to her untitled sculptures, imbuing them with life. The materials seem to resist attaining definitive form, and the way they join together gives a winking nod to Calder’s masterful mobiles, as if alluding to new, future forms. Her pieces seem about to lose their unstable equilibriums, designating the gallery as a fragile and delicate space.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.