Cleo Fariselli

A disembodied voice and casts of body parts

Untitled (Orecchie) (2018) by Cleo FariselliLa Galleria Nazionale

It was evening when I took the sculpture out of the oven and already in the dark I was struck by the sheen of the enamel in the color of cold gold. In the light of the next day I appreciated the green, rust, cobalt shades. About the height of the brain, a stain had generated between violet, gray and blue, with iridescent spirals and iridescent outlines: fuchsia, blue, orange.

Black is the dark, fertile, mysterious side of sculpture; the promise that you will soon know something that was unknown to you, the prelude to the revelation of the interior. It is roughened by an irregular texture that I modeled imagining it “untouched by human hand”, a perspective that brings me an arcane calm. The face that emerges dates back to 1999, when I was 17.

It crystallizes a very significant moment in my life: an act of strength and self-affirmation, when I have intimately chosen to become an artist. The metallic glaze of the enamel softens its features, as would an oyster that patiently smooths its interior exuding a shiny substance. A form that contains the formless. The sculpture has a twin: the other half of the head. Initially I always looked at them in pairs, as if they were joined by an invisible thread. Then I separated them and realized that this was their destiny.

If I had been born in another era, or in a less fortunate area of the world, or if I had had less attentive parents, I would have been lame and blind in one eye, the left. Luckily I got away with a lazy eye and modest scoliosis. It is said that the left is the female side, for me it has always been the side of the unknown: home to the small imbalances that form me and, in some way, inform me. Living together with the unknown is not easy but, over the years, I have learned to draw a very personal strength from it.

Untitled (Piede) (2018) by Cleo FariselliLa Galleria Nazionale

Yesterday I was reading a book, La ferita e il Re. Gli archetipi femminili della cultura maschile, by Tilde Giani Gallino. There is a passage that says:
"In the various religions, even the gods who have peculiar prerogatives, which are magicians (magiciens), who know 'the secrets', are almost always lame, blind, maimed, crippled. The message these divine figures convey seems to be that supernatural power is not achieved by remaining unscathed.

It is not yet clear to me what powers my small shortcomings instilled in me, it is certain that they made me attend the threshold assiduously.

Cleo Fariselli

Untitled (Piede) (2018) by Cleo FariselliLa Galleria Nazionale

Cleo Fariselli
(Cesenatico, 1982. She lives and works in Turin.)

In the Histoire de Lusignan, Melusina, in the guise of a beautiful girl, marries the son of a Breton king, assuring him descent and prosperity as long as he does not see her take her weekly bath. But the young man breaks the taboo, witnesses her metamorphosis in the water and Melusina punishes him by disappearing forever in the depths of the river.

According to a legend dating back to the Middle Ages, the melusine are water fairies with the bust of a woman and the body of a snake. The myth of the snake woman, goddess of the earth whose metamorphic nature she represents, is evoked by Cleo Fariselli in a sound work that takes its title from these creatures: a voice that comes as a distant, aquatic, seductive, and vaguely disturbing echo.

This oneiric melody constituted the narrating self in absentia of an exhibition that stimulated all the senses of the viewer through the use of light, sound, text and sculptural objects – an approach that in recent years has characterized the artist’s practice.

Senza titolo (spalla) (2019) by Cleo FariselliLa Galleria Nazionale

The autobiographical element, fil rouge of the whole Fariselli’s research, was entrusted not only to a disembodied voice, but also to a series of raku ceramics presented today at Galleria Nazionale. These sculptures appear at first glance as lava concretions, or fossil shells whose interior reveals an iridescent and mother-of-pearl surface.

At a careful glance they reveal themselves as casts of parts of the artist’s body: hips, face, shoulder, ears, torso which reveal the metamorphic nature of the sculpture in the play of contrasts put in place between exterior and interior, their belonging to a chthonic world, but also to a liquid universe (after all, clay is moist earth that takes shape by shaping it).

Senza titolo (fianco) (2019) by Cleo FariselliLa Galleria Nazionale

Like Melusina, these sculptures have a double nature, and open the body offering it as a space for the gaze, turning inside and out. They are perturbing in the sense in which the German word unheimlich contains a term that indicates what is familiar heim – the domestic – and its dark version (the un-).

They urge us to enjoy them with the whole body, to walk around them, to search them in a sort of mirroring of the operation the artist underwent in making them. To imagine them as spaces. To think of the sounds that could echo you. The uses they might have. The new forms they could take.

Cecilia Canziani

Credits: Story

Cleo Fariselli and Cecilia Canziani
Work cited: T. Giani Gallino, La ferita e il Re. Gli archetipi femminili della cultura maschile, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milano, 1989 p. 25

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.
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