Milan

Grazia Toderi

Galleria Fac-Simile

“There was something of the fairy in her, and nothing is more unbearable, to judge from fairy tales, than living with a fairy.” Grazia Toderi uses this phrase, taken from Marguerite Yourcenar, as the title for two of her works. Toderi unearths the fairy tale, with all its touches of cruelty, and sets it within the framework of video and photography. A color video, Soap focused on the interdependence of objects, fairy tales, and art. The object was a washing machine; the story centered around the Ken doll and his absent girlfriend, Barbie; the art was Maria Callas’ rendition of “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s Norma. The video screen was totally filled by the washing machine “window,” with Ken rolling around inside. The muffled, awkward sound of the appliance and the mechanical roar of the water were interspersed with the gushing, perfect cascade of Callas’ notes. Though the piece foregrounded the dullness of housework, it was not sufficient to silence the light, affectionate, but caustic irony surrounding Barbie and her “soap opera.” And the eruption of Callas’ voice served as a reminder that art, while presented in esteemed locales, also flows through the anonymous abyss of human life.

Another video, also in color and approximately 30 minutes long, set up a dialogue with Soap. It was titled with the citation from Yourcenar and unexpectedly poetic. Two gleaming basil leaves in a glass struggled against a stream of water from an invisible tap. Though fragile, they resisted the current. The work metaphorically addressed the need to break through the cliché of women’s art as fragile at the same time that it coded fragility as positive. That is, for Toderi fragility does not necessarily mean weakness, it is essential to life and growth.

Finally, in the extremely beautiful Cibachrome on aluminum Toderi explicated the passage of the fairy to whom she has dedicated her attention. A glass enclosed the slender petals of a “forget-me-not” covered in dewy mist. From beneath this enchanted cloak of glass, the minute dimensions of the flower shone through, but out of focus as if it had reemerged from childhood memories to nest within the surfaces of our adult lives. With resolute precision, Toderi punctured the surface of contemporary communications, exposing a fragility that is not the opposite of force, but, rather, a wellspring of creation.

Francesca Pasini

Translated from the italian by Marguerite Shore.