Marzia Migliora is currently showing at PERCYMILLER, a bijoux gallery in the heart of London west-end. The exhibition consists of two pieces: Marianne (2002) and Family (2005). The first is an installation and the latter comprises of a drawing and a video; some stills taken from it are also on show.

The installation consists of 5 glass bowls, a set of two speakers surrounding each one and black wires scattered on the floor. It is inspired by the 18th century now obsolete musical instrument the glass harmonica, said to turn the listener of its melody mad due to its hypnotical qualities. Marzia Migliora's piece has definitely this latter aspect as she counts from one to twenty and back again, slowly and evenly, with a calm voice which emphasises the mesmerising quality of the piece. (My induced madness though is still open to debate).

Each sequence of numbers echoes around the room and is punctuated at its end by the vibration of the glasses which amplifies in the emptiness of the space. The act of reciting numbers in their numerical order, so simple and minimal, is yet so powerful, because of the visual simplicity of the piece, the conceptual overtones become much more intrinsic. We are displaced by the fact that we do not know what the counting is for and we are forced to fill in the gaps by our own conjectures. Memories of school days rush forth with the didactic indoctrination of mathematical formulas, maybe it is repetition as a way of learning; but that seems too rigid and simplistic an explanation. Maybe it is the act of categorising and organising the world into an orderly fashion, a personal mantra or a recitation to regain control. It could be the passing of time, but this is also displaced as her voice counts from twenty back to one, back to twenty, to one and so on and we are stuck in a warp forever in the same moment. However we are made aware of this moment, of the warm light of the gallery irradiating from the windows onto the cold blue wintry world outside. The piece make us aware of our stance, of our relation to the other viewers of the show, of the walls, of our body. Furthermore the work is placed on the floor which forces us to squat down as a child would to further examine it. It is in this moment of closeness, staring at the quarts bowls, waiting for them to ring out that the simple beauty of the piece suddenly makes itself visible.

Family, the next piece on view, is placed in an alcove of the room adjacent to Marianne. The video shows a close up of Marzia Migliora's head slightly tilted forwards whilst she is in the act of detangling knots from her curls. The video is placed horizontally at waist level, to view it we are forced to stoop over it, putting us in a position of power over it but also of intimacy with it. It is encased in a rectangular container, a highly aestheticized vessel of such beautiful design that it could easily belong to Philip Starck's portforfio. On the wall behind at eye level, there is a drawing on white paper. The word family has been inscribed on its surface by forming the letters with the artist's own hair, supposedly collected during the making of the video. Again as in Marianne, an obsessive, compulsive repetition takes place, the disturbing and evocative action of the incessant unknotting of the curls and its knotting again on the paper. Little strands of hair escape their embroidery on the white surface, there is tension between the sowing of this fragile material in forced geometric shapes and those hairs which have freed themselves from such brutal action and have regained their original kink. It is at once attractive and repulsive, beautifully crafted with a care belonging to past times yet reminiscent of the remains left by a messy flatmate after having a bath. The tangles that are formed are brutishly unknotted, as if by forcefully trying to remove them, the family's complications and problems will disappear. The action is futile though, not only for the perpetual re-growth and re-tangling of the hair but also for the impossibility of true and final detachment. These strands hold the artist DNA, her biological make up, the essence of her identity, they are tied to Migliora as the letters are on the paper and their unplucking will never be final.

I am fascinated by the repetitive actions of the video, the delicious lines of the drawing and the idea of a single strand of hair holding all the characteristics of a person's genealogical tree. I am hypnotised again and I lose track of time as I start reminiscing about my own family. Even if the piece speaks in a universal language, I wish to be taken inside Marzia Migliora's personal world, of her own experiences. I I wonder about the circumstances that brought the piece into being and wish she could have been in the gallery to engage in conversation.

Gaia Persico

 

 

Top: Marianne, 2002, installation, sound length: 5 '/ loop, variable dimensions,
5 quartz cups 160 - 90 mm; no.10 speakers 4"; black anodised aluminium stands for speakers; 1 voice speaker; devices inside black box 400 mm.; 1 computer with audio card e monitor 15"; TFT; 6 amplifiers 70 w.

Above left: embroidery from Family, 80 x 80 cm. Above centre: Family, 2005, Installation shot, LCD monitor and DVD player inside white plinth 40 x 40 x 40 cm and embroidery 80 x 80 cm.embroidery from Family, 80 x 80 cm. Above right: video still from Family.

 

Courtesy PERCYMILLER and the artist.

© images Marzia Migliora

PERCYMILLER, 5 Vigo Street, London, W1S 3HB, +44(0)207 734 2100