“I want to be a machine” Andy Warhol said in 1963, while David Bowie in 1978 described himself as a “human Xerox machine”. This is me instead: you see me at rest, in a moment of pause, with the engine off: Autoritratto al lavoro. The artist as a machine, a motor hoe by Meccanica Benassi. “Moto Benassi” can be read in relief on the engine.
To create her works, Elisabetta Benassi uses a plurality of expressive means such as installation, video, photography, used as devices to create strong emotional suggestions and a different moral focus in the viewer.
Her works draw inspiration from the controversial themes of modernity, with which she creates intense symbolic narratives in which references to the socio-cultural and artistic tradition of the twentieth century are evident.
In the background of her works always lies a question about the current condition and identity, about their relationship with the historical past and an urge to reconsider it, looking at it against the light.
Elisabetta Benassi gives back to the images of our recent history a “physicality of which contemporary aesthetic theories had progressively deprived it, reducing them to simulacra.”
In the work presented at Galleria Nazionale, the artist plays with the homonymy of the brand of an agricultural tool and making a situationist detournement, she subjectivizes the object making it become her self-portrait.
The vintage moto-hoe, produced by Meccanica Benassi, thus becomes the ironic “self-portrait of the artist at work” with a clear reference not only to the artistic tradition of the self-portrait, but also to Andy Warhol’s idea of the artist as a machine.
The object thus becomes the embodied equivalent of the subject, some sort of ghost of the artist who represents himself by desexualizing himself in a typical tool of male work.
Autoritratto al lavoro (2016) by Elisabetta BenassiLa Galleria Nazionale
The work That’s Me in the Picture depicts a standing full-length gorilla that challenges the viewer with his gaze.
The gorilla is the symbol of a defeated but savage animality, which can be killed or confined, but which can never be truly tamed and for the artist becomes the symbol of the resistance to domestication and homologation that society imposes.
That’s me in the picture (postcard) (2016) by Elisabetta BenassiLa Galleria Nazionale
Elisabetta Benassi e Paola Ugolini
Works cited: Elena Volpato, The Innocents Abroad, in Flash Art, n. 84 Ottobre 2011.