Alek O.

Reality is truer when it is translated into fiction

By La Galleria Nazionale

Self-Portrait With Long Hair (2010) by Alek OLa Galleria Nazionale

"We make man in our image, in our likeness. God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” But man was created with 25% more muscle mass.
Strengthened by this difference, man shaped the earth in his image, in his likeness. And he wrote history. In his image, in his likeness. Woman is essentially absent from history as we know it today. It is an unthinkable and titanic work, but we have to rewrite history from the beginning.


Alek O.

Alek O.
(Buenos Aires 1981. She lives and works in Milan.)

“The first scene of O marinheiro (The Mariner) – a play written by Pessoa in a few hours in 1913 – opens onto a circular room, plunged in the dark of the night, where three female figures stand motionless to observe a mourning. A seascape is visible from a window of what looks like a tower. The three characters will spend the night talking. “About what?”, they wonder at the beginning. “Let’s talk about the past”, one of them says. “It is beautiful, and it is always a fake.”

The incipit of this text by Vincenzo Latronico on Alek O., published on Flash Art in 2013, catches the reader as a deja-vu. It is in fact a rewriting “by heart”, commissioned to the writer by the artist, of a previous text of his on Alek O.’s work, written for the same magazine in 2010.

It is an operation able to give back, as if through a game, the research of the artist in a very precise way, inviting critique to participate in the artistic operation from within, borrowing the method of remaking an object by reassembling its remains.

A sweater thus becomes a tapestry; a brass bottle opener that travelled with Alek O.’s family from one shore of the Atlantic to the other is turned into a tile; a piece of furniture is planed until it becomes dust and then molded into a geometric shape; broken umbrellas become huge tangrams; colored Fabriano sheets become a landscape, and it is enough to turn advertising signs inside out to create a silent surface, which is a new beginning.

The point in fact is this: Alek O.’s work is a way of rethinking the past – and certainly something is lost and falsified in this operation – but without any nostalgia and with an eye to the future, to the possibilities of a betrayal deriving from a mismatch of the shape.

Autoritratto con capelli lunghi ( Self-portrait with long hair) is one of the artist’s first works: the photograph shows her in the center of the image, with short hair, in her hands a long lock that seems to have just been cut. The subject represented corresponds to the title of the image, but not exactly in the form we imagined.

The self-portrait is always a declaration of poetics: at the center of this image there is time as a transformation; memory as a construction; even the idea that reality is truer when it is translated into fiction, poetic word, artwork. That is, when it renounces to resemble itself too much.

Cecilia Canziani

Credits: Story

Alek O. and Cecilia Canziani

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Women Up
The National Gallery of Rome celebrates the six-year-long program dedicated to gender equality
View theme
Google apps