Elisa Giardina Papa

Gallery Openings—15 Sep 2023, 6 to 9 PM

Elisa Giardina Papa,Trizzi di Donna #1, 2022, Ceramic, 108 x 22 x 18 cm, 1 + 1 AP, Photo: Nicolò Gemin

Thick, long ceramic braids grow out of the exhibition walls and video screens, while whimsical, wearable duck feet lay upon the ground, waiting for visitors to step into them. The artworks are inspired by Sicilian myth and tradition, particularly that of the enigmatic figure, donne di fora, a magical healer defiant of simple categorizations, known for embodying opposing qualities like the feminine and masculine, the human and animal and the benevolent and vengeful. In folklore, her healing rituals alleviate u Scantu,  the Sicilian word for fear. Following her visits, her patients awaken with monstrous feet or braids so long they flow out of the window. The exhibition also introduces a series of ceramic lemons, nodding to another Sicilian tradition. Deviating from traditional ceramic fruit centerpieces, Elisa Giardina Papa’s lemons are decaying, symbolizing the evolution of myths and the malleability of stories over time.

Elisa Giardina Papa at Tanja Wagner

Installation view at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, 2022, Photo: Nicolò Gemin

The exhibition expands upon the themes of her video installation, “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale, initially conceived as a special commission for the 59th Venice Biennale (2022). Her trilogy of works dedicated to labor, care, and AI —including Technologies of Care (2016), Labor of Sleep, Have you been able to change your habits?? (2017) and Cleaning Emotional Data (2020)— is currently on view at Gropius Bau’s program on artificial intelligence, Ether’s Bloom. The exhibition will be expanded upon with an artist talk on September 1.

Elisa Giardina Papa is an Italian artist whose work investigates gender, sexuality, and labor in relation to neoliberal capitalism and the borders of the Global South. Her most recent body of work documents how past and present forms of capitalism have progressively extracted all capacities for labor and living—including sleep, affect, and emotions—and instead draws attention to everything in our lives, embodiments, and desires that remains radically unruly, untranslatable, and un-computable.