Chiara Dynys

No Code

Chiara Dynys has investigated a variety of expressive and formal approaches over the years, employing a broad range of unusual materials that include soap, wax, porcelain, faux marble, and glass treated with arsenic. Out of these substances she shapes forms that are simple and totemic, but that have a powerful effect. Viewing Dynys’ sensuous, organic installations is something like glimpsing a bit of skin through a person’s clothing: one is seduced by a sense of mysterious warmth and vitality.

The two new installations in Dynys’ recent exhibition (which were presented alongside an earlier work from 1992) brought a whole new level of symbolism to her work. They consisted of rigid skeletons “dressed” in fabric, accompanied by background music. In Happy Days, 1997, a piece titled after Beckett’s 1961 play, ovoid forms covered in pale pink cloth seemed to float through the air like graceful specters. A recording of an actress repeating a line from the part of Winnie, Beckett’s heroine, played in the background. As she is buried—first up to her waist, then as far as her neck in a mound of earth—Winnie describes the tragic “felicity” of everyday life. One can’t help but be struck by the contrast between the lightness of the hanging forms and the claustrophobic weight of the events described in Beckett’s text.

Meanwhile, the shrouded silhouettes in Limitare i danni (To limit damages, 1998), which are intended to evoke the difficult situation of women in Afghanistan under the current regime, had a powerful political and historical dimension. This time the anthropomorphic armatures were dressed head—to—toe in typical female Afghani garb, save for indistinct, woundlike fissures at eye level. Copper halos floated above the “heads,” and a silver pipe placed on the floor concealed sensors that activated fans as viewers passed by, causing the fabric to flutter upward. These poetic elements had a liberatory effect (as the murmur of air and rustling cloth offset the piece’s otherwise claustrophobic feeling), while a recording of music and syncopated breathing by Moni Ovadia playingin the background conjured voices silenced by oppression.

Mario Codognato

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.