1. Excerpt from Anna Maria Maiolino, Um Momento, Por Favor, 1999-2004
2. New text by Anna Maria Maiolino for Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters, 2021
3. Full video:
Anna Maria Maiolino
Um Momento, Por Favor [One Moment, Please], 1999-2004
video, colour, sound
Courtesy the Artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan
Artist’s gift. Collectio Archaeological Park of Pompeii (Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters)
Being both here and there is part of the Pompeian universe. In fact, it expands in the space of a thousand-year-old caesura that marks (and at the same time makes redundant) any interruption of continuity between the epistemic experience of the present time, which is closer to us, and the remote dimension of an ancient city preserved by its destruction. Precisely in this paradox lies the charm of taking a break, as a definition of a space of suspension in which distances, both physical and temporal, collapse into a single event and end up coinciding. Thus also the work of Anna Maria Maiolino presented as the fulcrum of her contribution to the Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters – Um Momento, Por Favor (“One Moment, Please”), 1999-2004 – involves geographies of oceanic distance, profoundly significant for the artist’s biography, bringing them closer to a single point – indeed, a single moment – of encounter: on the one hand Italy, Maiolino’s native country, evoked through the song “Napule Canta” (1958) by the Neapolitan singer-songwriter Roberto Murolo that the artist herself interprets, overlapping the original track and offering an execution that remains faithful to the interpretative act of one’s own memory, rather than attempting to achieve the flawless, alien (and perhaps impossible) perfection of “authenticity”. On the other hand, Brazil – Maiolino’s adoptive country where the artist moved very young with her family, and where her children grew up – is present in the film as the phenomenological site of the performative act recorded by the camera in 1999. Evoking the past is not, for Maiolino, a nostalgic exercise but a poetic and epistemic practice that has to do with the ongoing construction of her own identity as a woman, as a woman artist, and as an emigrant and immigrant woman. The final version of Um Momento, Por Favor is dated 1999-2004, encapsulating the extended time between the genesis and the publication of the film. The moving images show extremely close-up glimpses of Maiolino’s face, which never allow the vision of a whole – the close-up is a filmic style very present in her creative vocabulary –, composing a visual and aural self-portrait, intimate though fragmentary, which the artist herself has defined as a “cartography of worn and aged skin, like certain territories that appear degraded and deserted.” It is for these connotations, strongly linked to a sense of decadence in her own body, that Maiolino initially hesitated to publish her work, feeling somehow ashamed of it. Um Momento, Por Favor becomes, in this sense, also a political work that brings into play the overcoming of a sense of unease caused by social pressures in regard to conventional physical perfection, celebrating instead an anti-heroic body, with a strident voice, in which matter reveals itself in all its truth, and weariness. In the suspended territory of this vital pause, there is no room for mythizing, nor for lies: the public is faced with a non-aestheticised subjectivity. Maiolino’s voice is “a text inside the body”, in the artist’s words, an “imprint of a journey of being through one’s being.”
Responding to the invitation to participate in Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters, Maiolino has generously chosen to donate her work Um Momento, Por Favor, 1999-2004, to the new collection of contemporary art of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, almost as a further act of intimate truthfulness and claiming of her roots intertwined between continents and different eras, immersed in the passing of time and in the unfolding of space. SB
Thanks to Raffaella Cortese, Corinne Cortinovis and Anna Maria Maiolino Studio.
Home page image: Anna Maria Maiolino, Um Momento, Por Favor (video still), 1999-2004. Courtesy the Artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan
Drawing from the everyday female consciousness and from an oppressive, censorial dictatorship – as experienced in 1970s and 1980s Brazil – Italian-born Anna Maria Maiolino (Scalea, Italy, 1942. Lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil) has produced works steeped in vital force, in a wide range of languages and media throughout her artistic career: from performance to sculpture, from videos to photography, installation and drawing. Maiolino was involved in Brazil’s 1960s New Figuration movement: her representational prints and drawings from these years were acts of resistance to the national military regime, rising urban inequalities, and culturally ingrained patriarchy. She would later cultivate an interest in spatial and existential issues with a shift towards Minimalism and Conceptualism, creating installations that coaxed interaction between viewer and object. Since 1989, Maiolino has started working with clay, crafting impermanent labor-intensive installations that foreground her physical handling of the material, references to the unconscious and recurrent gestures of everyday life. Maiolino’s works are based on processes of creation necessarily paired with destruction, and almost constantly on matters of identity, from the subjective and universal point of view. Developing a dialogue between opposing and complementary categories, her artistic practice dissolves between dichotomies between the inside and the outside, between emptiness and matter, ancient and contemporary. Maiolino has presented solo shows in numerous international institutions, among which: Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (2021); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2020); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2019); PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2019); MOCA, Los Angeles (2017); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2014); Malmo Kunsthalle (2011); Centro Galego de Arte Contemporânea, Santiago de Compostela (2011); Fundació Antoní Tàpies, Barcelona (2010); Camden Arts Centre, London (2010); Pharos Centre for Contemporary art, Cipro (2007). Recent group shows include: senzamargine – Passages in Italian Art at the Turn of the Millennium, MAXXI, Rome (2021); Pop América, 1965–1975, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, North Carolina (2019); A Tale of Two Worlds, Museum of Modern Art Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires (2018); Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, The Met Breuer, New York (2017); Acervo em Transformação and Histórias da Infáncia, MASP, Sao Paulo (2016); La Grande Madre, Palazzo Reale, Milan (2015); The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London (2015). Maiolino has been invited to several international biennials such as La Biennale de Lyon (2017), 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju (2014) and Documenta 13, Kassel (2012).