Marisa Albanese

Galleria Dina Caròla

Classical in appearance, Marisa Albanese’s sculptures reveal, on closer examination, a hidden dimension. Four resin figures placed on aluminum pedestals occupied only a portion of the gallery space. From the title of the installation, Korai (all works 2000), one understood that this was a group of women warriors, although they presented no heroic gestures, no implications of action let done of incipient conflict. The off-center position and reduced scale of the figures allowed the otherwise empty space of the gallery to predominate. Though their faces and clothing were identical, the figures were distinguishable from one another through subtle differences in shades of gray and slight variations in the positioning of their hands.

While details of the body were depicted with extreme realism, garments and hair were highly stylized, almost abstract, and this is where the apparent contradiction between the theme of warlike power and the appearance of tranquil immobility finds an explanation. The bodies, it seems, are undergoing a metamorphosis that will lead to the formation of a veritable warrior’s armor. The garment will envelop the figure until it becomes a protective shell, and the head of each figure will solidify into a sort of cast-aluminum helmet. The curved shapes of these brightly colored surfaces are like those of objects designed to attain high velocity: fuselages of warplanes, motorcycle helmets, or shiny bullet points. But the war evoked by Albanese can only be a battle of the mind—a combat more arduous than physical warfare and one that necessitates totally different means and strategies.

The potential expressed by these figures transcends any particular material manifestation and points to a multiplicity of outcomes. Bradipotipi presented an accompanying group of drawings that formed a sort of intricate graphic map in five horizontal rows, a sampling of possible variations. These images are the result of a chain of “clonings” of basic forms to produce impossible shapes—hybrids that incorporate unpredictable juxtapositions, evoking sexual objects and exercising a sense of attraction that they then ward off. The piece was flanked by images of sentinel-like figures with protective helmets. In the upper and lower rows, drawings of bodies elongated to the point of deformity evoked metamorphoses. In the middle area a multitude of limbs performed apparently communicative gestures, and at the center were “astigmatic” images—blurred to the point where any legible reference was lost.

The massed bodies of Korai assume the shapes of bombs ready to explode, and the sensation of initial stasis changes into an unforeseen tension. It is as if the power expressed by these objects were developing beyond their form. In a comer of the gallery, almost as if to bear witness to victory over the body, there was a metal “scalp” with long female braids (Ermenegilda). A symbolic trophy of a victory obtained without excessive violence or impressive exploits, it is a conquest acquired with the help of cold and subtle dynamics, suspended between awareness of one’s own power and the uses of seduction.

Filippo Romeo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.