L’identico e il differente
Ass. culturale Borgovico 33, Como
Text: Bettina Della Casa

Daniela De Lorenzo

As we all know, a work speaks for itself. With Daniela De Lorenzo this statement comes even closer to the truth, it is almost literal. Among other works, the sound installation presented at Borgovico 33 proposes some revealing excerpts from the book Laughter. An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (1911) by the French philosopher Henri Bergson. Fragments of text – recited by a female voice – alternate with the sound of breathing, variously modulated and intense. Let us listen to some background phrases:

…L’immaginazione poetica non può essere che una visione più completa della realtà. I personaggi che crea il poeta ci danno l’impressione della vita perché sono il poeta stesso, il poeta moltiplicato, il poeta che approfondisce se stesso in uno sforzo di osservazione interiore così potente da afferrare il virtuale nel reale e da integrare, per farne un’opera completa, ciò che la natura lasciò in lui allo stato di abbozzo o di semplice progetto…


These words raise the problem of the identity of the poet (the artist) in his/her work and seem a reference to the other works in the exhibition: Senza titolo , a large white felt sculpture that develops vertically in the centre of the church and Lei , a self-portrait colour photograph; in the adjacent space, Ritrarsi is a set of four photographs, again in colour and self-portraits. As occurs with a liturgical choir (the church has long been deconsecrated but conserves the memory of its rites and lends itself well to this sonority), the narrating voice guides the onlooker’s gaze towards the subject of the works: the Self (the artist’s? ours?), portrayed, self portrayed, multiplied, always equal to itself yet declined in several variations. The breathing that interrupts the reading of the texts reveals an inner voice - devoid of thought - that is asked to modulate the level of the ineffable that resides in all individuals and in every work that portrays them.


Unrepresentable subjects, ambiguous figures and mysterious identities come together to shape a universe where every possible definition is transformed into metamorphosis, into something indefinable. L’identico e il differente is the title chosen for this exhibition by the artist. Every work enters into dialogue with the others, probing essential questions: does the truth exist in the subject portrayed ? and in the self-portrait ? The artist seems to forgo the portrayal of an “absolute subject” , totally separated from the outward appearance, captured in itself, and opts to advance other hypotheses, with the aid of her favourite tools: sculpture and photography. She works on the outer limits of both, visiting unusual spaces. The sculptures in felt are a recurrent cipher in her production and are set within a “doing-undoing” antithesis. The photographs, taken using a delayed action shutter release, come instead within an exchange of “self presentation-portrayal”.


Senza titolo, the white felt sculpture suspended in the centre of the church to dominate the whole space, consists in anthropomorphic figures vertically aligned, “uninhabited garments” that support and restrain each other, defined within a model that is always the same but adopts a different guise in each of the three versions. The forms are created via a complex play of stitching and folding. Daniela De Lorenzo uses curved lines and folds as linguistic aids. The felt comes to life with the volume and sculptural quality emerging in the play of the folds. There is no compositional insistence, but focus on the principle of “shaping”, with the material adopting a form according to its own undefined variations. Folds become the code of expression that creates an intimate universe, an inner “reflection” in which the mystery of identity, the practicability of the self-portrait, becomes the primary object of investigation. The photographs-self portraits, Lei and Ritrarsi, were taken by the artist herself, using an open diaphragm and long exposure times. The oscillating and repeated movements of the subject (in this case Daniela herself) create a blurred movement. The heavy felt garment she is wearing alters her posture and the artist’s movement produces the sense of a checked fall. The figure tends to disappear, highlighting the minute shifts that define the image. The fuzzy image discounts the traditional use of the photograph as a means of recording a specific event in a dimension of space and time and creates an image that the direct gaze will never see as definite. The artist seems anxious to assert the impracticability of revealing the subject as a univocal identity (the title of the set of photographs Ritrarsi plays on the dual Italian meaning of “drawing back” and “portraying oneself”) and to favour the structure, the ex-position, outside, behind or before.


Daniela De Lorenzo’s self-portraits capture the flow of time around the subject. The sculptural figure becomes a ghost, the hic et nunc of the photograph-snapshot is abandoned to focus on the duration. The place of choice for Daniela De Lorenzo’s work lies thus between the “no longer” and the “not yet”, with the image hovering between the material and the representation. The matter, sculptural or photographic, is modulated to create clear-cut, incisive, memorable images that exist in the autonomous work, without ever surrendering to the narrative consecutio. The artist reveals nothing about herself in her self-portraits; she stops before coming to that. Within the confines of her personal philosophy on the subject, she throws light on the eternal and ever fundamental concepts of identity and diversity … we cannot narrate what we cannot know..

Bettina Della Casa