9TH ART SYMPOSIUM IN CEFALÙ, SICILY
In Memoriam Letizia
Performance as part of the 9th Art Symposium in Cefalù from August 26th to August 28th
My performance "In Memoriam Letizia" is dedicated to the Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia, who died this year at the age of 87. Battaglia did not photograph the mafia, she photographed against the mafia. Every single photographic documentation was an indictment.
But Battaglia was not only a chronicler of the Mafia, she also captured everyday life in Sicily in all its facets - crude and black and white, so that no one forgot. And last but not least, she was also a feminist artist: her favorite subjects were obviously women and girls. Battaglia depicted women as they were, naked, proud and free - not as charming objects, but as resolute beings in control of their own lives; liberated from a macho culture in which they were regarded as mere possessions.
I planned a participatory performance. On each day of the symposium, I asked the other artists to paint on my body an image, a word, a sign and the like, which in some direct or indirect way related to Letizia Battaglia's work and life. As colors I used only black and white in reference to Battaglia's photographs. Prints from the Internet served as templates.
There has been a lot of guilt, horror, suffering and misery in Sicily in the past decades; thankfully documented in a great way by Battaglia. The photographer said in a filmic documentary that she had never been at peace, that her whole life had been a struggle. As a performance artist, I represent, so to speak, the personified suffering, I let the images of horror and memory "inscribe" on me. The painting of my body by strangers is a kind of "encroachment," which in turn is reminiscent of mafia acts. Always at the same time I went into the sea with the painting to wash away guilt and suffering. The paint did not wash off completely. Nor should it. Traces should remain. These were ritual washings during the three days of the symposium. On the last day, Aug. 28, dancer Sophie Perry responded to the body painting. This before I went into the sea for the last time and finally freed myself.