Lara Favaretto

Lara Favaretto, thirty-three years old, had not cut her hair for twelve years. But now she has done so, transforming the results of this personal decision into the material for a work of art. The mass of cut hair (some of it nearly four feet long) became the heart of a sturdy hemp rope, almost fifteen feet long, made specially by a master rope maker in Turin. In E’ così se mi interessa (It Is So if It Interests Me) (all works 2006), the rope dangled from a mechanical arm attached to the ceiling and was moved by a motor that made it shake violently, unexpectedly, almost in spasms, striking the wall and floor. This work formed the core of Favaretto’s recent show along with A piedi pari (With Both Feet), a life-size cast of the artist’s body made in gray industrial plaster, depicted her urinating, standing up and holding her vagina in simulation of a male stance; a jet of water, simulating urine, filled a bucket. The other pieces on view acted as addenda—for instance L.F., a black-and-white photo of the mass of knotted hair, held by a gold pushpin to a block of black rubber.

One aspect of Favaretto’s work connects it to what we might describe as diaristic art—that is, art based on one’s own experience rather than simply on experience as such, on life in general. Making a rope out of one’s own hair certainly has strong psychological significance, and if this rope then slams crazily against the walls, its aimless thrashing about becomes a metaphor, an animistic image of the person. But it also has powerfully symbolic, universal content, recalling ancient archetypes like the hair of princesses in fairy tales. Likewise, the feminine identification of the girl who urinates like a boy is universal because that fantasy is one that might be shared by any woman, and yet the statue is a portrait of someone who, for the artist, is the most particular person on earth: herself. Thus Favaretto manages to work on the double register of the specific and the general, which is one of the fundamental characteristics of artmaking, and she does this with a formal immediacy that can only be the result of a truly thought-out project. A certain crudeness, even some vulgarity, simple metaphors, the staging of oneself, personal pride in a special action dictated by who knows what inner impulses—these become the object of reflection for all, the ingredients of works that have few tricks or frills and none of the artifice of “craft.” Faith in oneself, to the point where one presumes there is no need to resort to any pretty packaging of the art product, is a challenge, allowing for no half-measures. When a work is weak, there is no way to hide it—for example, the installation Non ho creduto in niente (I Believed in Nothing), in which hidden sensors trigger a lengthy round of applause when anyone enters the space. But usually, Favaretto’s risks pay off.

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.