Corinna Gosmaro, CHUTZPAH!, 2020, mountain-climbing ropes, wire brushes, 118 1/8 × 35 1/2".

Corinna Gosmaro, CHUTZPAH!, 2020, mountain-climbing ropes, wire brushes, 118 1/8 × 35 1/2".

Corinna Gosmaro

In a 1966 interview on French television, Pier Paolo Pasolini speaks of a phrase from Provençal poetry. “The nightingale sings “ab joy,” for joy. But ‘joy,’ in the Provençal language of that time, had a particular significance, one of poetic raptus, of exaltation and poetic intoxication. Now this expression, ab joy, is perhaps the key expression of my entire production,” he says, since it represents “this sort of nostalgia for life, this sense of exclusion that, however, does not diminish the love of life but increases it.” Pasolini’s statement inspired Corinna Gosmaro’s series “Ab Joy” (all works 2020). These mixed-media works on paper, seven of which were included in her recent exhibition, depict birds singing—an activity necessary for mating and therefore the propagation of species but also rooted in that exalted intoxication Pasolini talks about. For this young artist, the need to make art emerges not only out of a desire to convey a message, but also from the pure happiness of expressing oneself. But the poet’s reflection also led her to confront a paradox inherent in human nature: the connection between the instinct for survival and the awareness of death, the recognition of finitude that exalts our sense of life.

Gosmaro moves between poetic lightness and an investigation of perception, often with a touch of irony. The exhibition unfolded over the gallery’s ground floor and basement, with an existing glass “window” in the floor creating a continuity between the levels, setting the works—a total of four blue and red rope ladders and three sinuous brass handrails—in dialogue with one another, a conversation between above and below. In the absence of a narrative link between the two spaces, the exhibition functioned more like a great sketch of nature inside a geometric structure. The articulation of the handrails was meandering, that of the ladders geometric, yet both charted a movement that opened up in all directions, from high to low and back again but also to the right and left, and the calm beauty of the rhythm was seductive. But here the ladder, metaphor par excellence for ascension, was an ambiguous, almost insolent object, impossible to use. Closer inspection yielded the unexpected realization that these rope ladders, in their Minimalist precision, might delineate the contours of animals of great size, perched on the wall, ready to spring—perhaps enormous centipedes or iguanas. These creatures had outstretched paws and funny-looking, wide-open eyes, features made of the untwisted strands of the rope itself and from metal brushes, rough tools used to eliminate rust or oxidation—completely incongruous objects with which to evoke nature. The small sculpture Occhioni miei (My Big Eyes), installed on the wall at the artist’s eye level, was likewise assembled from two spiky, threatening brushes, ferocious guardians of an intimacy that does not allow anyone to draw near, except at the cost of great pain.

As though to contest the architectural geometry that dictates the rules for a gallery exhibition, the show’s very title, “CHUTZPAH!,” alluded to a sort of audacity, courage, and spontaneity, encapsulating the emotional aspect of the artist’s project. The ladders and handrails were the scaffolding needed for moving about in a spatial and temporal continuum between present, past, and future. And Gosmaro left her fingerprints on the bronze surfaces of the handrails precisely to indicate the uniqueness of her passage in time, the tactile memory of an event. In these works the body was always involved: ascending, descending, walking, singing. But the artist also suggested the presence of an inner movement, one that is never linear, of feelings and emotions, and she reminded us that creative processes are based on such movements—as nightingales, neuroscience, and Pasolini, each in their own way, all explain to us.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.