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VISENTINALICEMARTINA@GMAIL.COM

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Alice Visentin (b.1993, Ciriè, Italy) graduated from Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti, Turin. Among her solo shows: Malefate, Almanac Project, Turin (2021); Planète, Italian Cultural Institute of Paris (2021); Prima Persona Singolare, Tile Project Space, Milan (2017). Her works have been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions, including: Espressioni con Frazioni, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Marcella Beccaria, Marianna Vecellio, Castello di Rivoli (2022); Pittura in persona, CRC Foundation, Cuneo (2021); LXII Premio Termoli, Museo MACTE, Termoli (2021); Domani, Qui, Oggi, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2020); Artagon, Cité internationale des arts, Paris (2018). She won a fellowship in Visual Arts at the American Academy in Rome for the year 2023.

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Alice Visentin
Malefate
19 March—30 April 2022
Opening: 18 March, 6pm
Almanac Inn presents Malefate, the first solo exhibition in Turin by Alice Visentin.
Alice Visentin’s research investigates the imaginative power of orality and storytelling, exploring stories, songs and rituals that unite past and present. The passage of the word from body to body, from subject to subject, reflects archetypes, memories, traditions – collective and personal – which weave a complex, dense and universal plot.
Painting is used to trace and intertwine images that come from arcane stories, from the origins or from a simple, more silent and authentic everyday life chat or story.
This collection of images wants to follow the flow of life and give voice to a multiplicity of subjects, to approach the complexity of the world from singular perspectives and experiences, even at the margins, making their words resonate.
The place of these images is the body: not only for the necessary presence of an interlocutor so that our words would take on meaning, but also as origin and filter. Not surprisingly, the silhouettes that host the stories that Alice collected and interpreted are shaped from her own body. These paper supports with repeated forms, but with always different lines, remind us of the uniqueness and singularity underlying each collectivity.
Voices and stories of women are taken as main source, as “women have been seen historically, in many parts of the world, as the weavers of memory – those who keep alive the voices of the past, the histories of the communities, who transmit them to the future generations and, in so doing, create a collective identity and profound sense of cohesion. They are also the repositories of acquired knowledge and wisdom regarding medical remedies, sentimental problems and the understanding of human behavior, starting with that of men.” (1)
The stories intertwine in a forest of bodies and narratives that overlap, join and continue in other profiles and new configurations projected on the walls with a play of light and shadow.
Waiting for them, fixed as religious icons or simple copper pans hung in the kitchen, there are a series of earthenware lids: they are the “malefate” of the exhibition title.
It was said that the malefate were small female figures who whispered the destinies to newborn children appointing their fate for better or for worse. They loved to dress in red and, on gold looms, wove splendid fabrics that they spread on the fields in the moonlight. These presences seem to appear from the terracotta, reminding us of other female myths of the origins that address the inevitable coexistence of good and evil. Also in this case, as for the curious Pandora, the containers are open. Only the lids remain. The intertwining stories that emerged have now animated the room.
For the malefate the spoken word is the means to weave a destiny on a person; whispering their story determines their future, drawing the path that will guide them in life. It is no coincidence that in Piedmontese the ‘desmentioura’ is the woman who practices the ‘smentía’, the magical ritual. The word comes from ‘desmetié’, to forget. When the spell is done, the trace of the narration is lost, forgotten.
The thread of history and time also comes back in the characters of the Moirai of ancient Greece: other skilled female weavers and daughters of the night who have the task of weaving everyone’s fate, unfolding it and finally cutting it off, marking its end.
This recurring role of the word and of the narrative thread entrusted to female figures who intertwine it and determine the complexity of the human condition is what Alice researches in Malefate.
“A magical thread seemed to tie the women, giving them a composed and ardent excitement. The row began to bend, slowly forming a circle: from time to time a woman advanced, detached two joined hands, intertwined them with hers, increased the black and red garland behind which the fringe of shadows moved. And the feet rose faster and faster, beating over each other, beating the earth as if to awaken it from its stillness.” (2)

(1) Silvia Federici, Witches, Witch-Hunting and Women
(2) Grazia Deledda, Canne al vento

Finissage: 30 Aprile, h.19 – listening session of Oh! Uomo by Andrea Penso.

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Cieli neri, by Sonia D’Alto written on the occasion of the show “Cieli neri”, Toast Project, Firenze,
24.03.2021 al 04.06.2021
Why is imagination so important and why is it easier than it seems?
It seems science needs imagination in a time of urgency such as ours. Instead, art is measured with an imagination that overturns and retraces disciplinary and scientific subjects such as order, classification and control. In face of the obsessive quest for knowledge and understanding that has no end and no scope (a sort of hubris), there are those who seek to go beyond the dark side of this artificial intellectual illumination. There are some who prefer the poetry of a landscape to territorial borders, and some who look up towards the rigor of a stratified and manifold relationship, some who refute weak universal conventions. Alice Visentin’s paintings belong to this realm, in
that place of memory that has no limits in the shadows of the night, that resonates with pre-existing contours, with distant echoes and familiar noises, with the wandering of proximity, with the spoken word. The home finally destroys its walls and returns to its origins. The transparency of space allows us to glimpse the opacity of relationships, their connections, their inscriptions and filiations, their rhizomes,
their germinations. The figures in this painting toy with memory and place which inscribe experience in the poetics of a relationship and sacredness outside of history. Visentin signs a manifesto with water. It is not her name, but a current of experiences and traces of the cosmos, organized in large-scale drawings, painted in watercolour and wax pastels. Water serves as a connecting theme to the subjective experience, to the elements and the rivers observed. The colours stand out on a long paper manifesto: an agglomeration of over-turnings and intrusions, schisms and peace. Silhouettes, masks, and stylized caricatures follow the grotesque articulations of a reconsideration: an upside-down astrology reading, looking to the ground instead of to the stars.
How can architecture be influenced by its surroundings? How can architecture be transformed into something that is ‘coming to be’?
A passage is always present in Alice Visentin’s paintings. Passages are permeable and their outlines are borders to be crossed. The figures are never completely static, and despite their frontal and almost hieratic view, they are always on the edge of identifying with some limit to transgress, in a colour or a word to swallow. Vernacular and popular culture, and the folktales this painting is inspired by are not static elements of a grammatical subject, but movements in interiority and domesticity, ready to derail with chaos to be able to make order anew. The internal and external coexist in a patchwork of cutouts and mixed up compositions that are puzzled together. A junction for forgotten tales which meet again in symbiotic and syncretic union. Alliances are formed with other species, multiple stories are created with multiple creatures. The word is authorized to renovate itself. There are no longer limits and clauses to condition the existence of living organisms. We want to leave our houses and infect the outside with the inside. The manifesto of painted paper is a papyrus of the future which reminds us of the dark ages, the humble abode, those dwellings in which humanity lived for centuries, the sudden ecological desolation of the last century and the abandoning of all such dwellings. ‘This wandering passion heralds the poetic of the relationships’ between many creatures and temporalities.

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Planète, di Chiara Vecchiarelli scritto in occasione della mostra “Planète”, Istituto Italiano di Cultura,
Parigi, 23 luglio / 30 settembre 2021
Le opere di Alice Visentin se ne stanno ad altezze diverse, sospese a mezz’aria come astri. Eppure, esse non gravitano intorno a un astro celeste. Il centro di gravità dei tondi che Alice dipinge sono immagini nascoste nel linguaggio, talvolta in una storia raccontatale, altre volte in una memoria appesa al vento. Una memoria di tutti e di nessuno, intima come una montagna, che porta con sé i canti che nelle valli italiane venivano affidati al vento affinché raggiungessero la persona troppo lontana, distante nel tempo o nello spazio. Come pianeti stanno sospesi, in una costellazione la cui contingenza prende, con Planète, la forma di una mostra. Era quadrata la rivista Planète. In bianco e nero, piena di testi che celebravano il potere dell’immaginazione. Tradotta in italiano, è arrivata sino a Torino dove Alice vive, per tornare con lei in Francia nella città dove l’hanno creata gli autori de Il mattino dei maghi (Le matin des magiciens). Nei numeri di Planète si legge di un invito alla poesia, del quarto stato della materia e di biologia cosmica, di intelligenza artificiale e dell’amore nel sufismo. Soprattutto, Planète si interessa a ogni sorta di nozione suscettibile di modificare in tutti i modi possibili il vivente e il mondo. Una fabbrica di metamorfosi e interconnessioni, sulle cui pagine, tra gli anni sessanta e gli anni settanta del XX secolo, il padre della cibernetica Norbert Wiener coesiste con Borges e Fellini. Mircea Eliade con Edgar Morin e Umberto Eco. A Parigi, nella mostra di Alice, Planète si trasforma, come in una reincarnazione della carta in carta, ma di una carta che nel farsi astro si carica di cera e pigmento. Nei pianeti di Alice Visentin l’immagine contrae mondi e in una crasi visiva diventa “pittostoria”, veicolando quanto il tempo – forse il vento – ha permesso di salvare ma a una condizione, quella di posarsi su una materia in ascolto. Arrivano così i canti di zia Nerina, e di altre prima di lei che Amerigo ha registrato per darli da cantare alle persone che Alice dipinge, che compongono i cori dei suoi tondi. Il cosmo di Planète è un crocevia cosmico di storie, una costellazione contingente di immagini sonore trasmesse di bocca in bocca, che servono a trovare la via attraverso il mondo e il linguaggio, un po’ come le annotazioni scritte sul palmo della mano di Émile Zola, che senza conoscere l’inglese si esiliava a Londra per sfuggire alla condanna inflittagli per aver difeso un altro dall’accusa più ingiusta. “I am hungry”, “Where”, “Hotel”: Alice immagina cosa avrebbe potuto aiutare lo scrittore, e in una sala a Parigi la storia, il possibile e l’immaginazione si raggiungono in un luogo, quello dell’immagine, capace di ridefinire il tempo e lo spazio.
Planète è un’ipotesi sul tempo. Un tempo circolare come un tondo eppure capace di saltare un tratto, come se in fondo il suo criterio non fosse l’omogeneità della sequenza lineare degli istanti, ma la relazione associativa e affettiva. Il tempo di Planète salta e si contrae perché ad Alice interessano i racconti viventi, quelli che passano da un’esistenza all’altra per tenere insieme la vita, libero di non dover sostare là dove non può amare. Un tempo il cui parametro è l’incontro, profondamente diverso nella sua struttura dal tempo cronologico. La voce che Alice dipinge è una chimera di età: presente e insieme infinitamente vecchia, ha vibrato in altri corpi e ha viaggiato attraverso il tempo senza mai smettere di vibrare. Il tempo di Planète è un tempo che si muove, spostato dai corpi che lo spazio accoglie e che passa, se vuole, da nonna a nipote saltando una generazione. Figlia di nonna, Alice Visentin dipinge l’incontro tra l’infinitamente grande e l’infinitamente piccolo, il micromega in cui il linguaggio, in quanto ha di più sonoro, si fa immagine per permettere a un’esistenza di ricapitolare in sé la vita stessa.

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The Image of Voices, text by Ilaria Gianni, in Alice Visentin. Andante, ritmo di uno spirito appassionato e lento, curated by Ilaria Gianni and Caterina Molteni, Skira editore, Milan 2021
Alice Visentin grew up in the Canavese, an area in the north-west of the Piedmont region between the Turinese plain, the Lanzo valleys and the Graian Alps. For more than half a century now, this area has played host to major industrial facilities, but was historically dominated by a pastoral, agricultural economy, constituted by vineyards, woodlands, the rearing of livestock and the growing of cereals and fodder crops. It is a landscape laden with memories yet to be explored. Every time that I think of Alice Visentin, I picture her with her eyes gazing downwards to her woodlands and the secret stories that they conceal.As a young woman, and a self-conscious dreamer, during a conversation she said to me: “I believe that in my valleys there are very important stories yet to be told, not those of the cultured literati; not those of Guido Gozzano and Miss Felicity; not those of the fireflies and the great tits, but stories of hunger and misery. Stories of abuses of power, where exploitation and sexual violence within marriage forced women to stay pregnant all the time, always at work, forever oppressed by the male head of the household.”
And my attention is drawn immediately towards her most recent artistic output, based on an investigation of the rural folklore of her part of the world, with as its starting point the role and the position historically taken on by women. She told me that over the course of the past year she had immersed herself in the countryside, observing and working, and so I asked her “how,” “who,” and “what.” She replied as follows: “Through the spectrum of representation, I want to explore the cultural heritage and genealogical dynamics. Putting together documents from oral and song archives ( first and foremost, the Ethnological Archive of the Canavese area), I want to paint the stories, lives and dynamics associated with the collective memory of my valleys. This interest arose out of the wide-ranging imagination that I developed during my childhood, thanks to the long periods that I spent with the 18 mountain communities I come from. Nothing is distant, and the stories are all interconnected. I’m sure that the freest of the stories reached my ears through words and through lives narrated orally.
”During my summers in Sicily, as a daughter of women from the South of Italy, I had always been told that the rural matriarchy was subordinate to the despotic power of the ruling male figure. The stories of great-grandmothers, great-aunts – creators and cornerstones of families – were always whispered by grandmothers to grand-daughters, in secret, last thing at night, in bed. I remember them more as fables than as true stories.The truth is that history, the history of the female rural universe, has always been considered a historia minor, but it is in no way less significant or important for the purposes of gleaning an understanding of the current socio-political system. Official histories handed down omit the active role played by rural women in terms of the family, work, manufacturing and the class war, highlighting how the lack of sources is indicative both of a patriarchal perspective, but perhaps also, more recently, of a difficult encounter between feminism and the countryside, as Luisa Passerini claims.
But let’s look at it from an entirely different angle: the countryside is a female [a feminine noun in Italian] and women have always been a crucial element in rural communities. The history of the countryside is a story of female power that has ensured the survival and continuity of rural society, forever the victim of poverty, wars and emigration. Paying the price of violence and bullying, women have been at the forefront of a resistance that has never been recounted. Only voices that are deemed secondary, and yet are crucial, can reveal what actually happened, engaging their listeners on a journey straddling personal and collective memory. 22 These are the voices that constitute the focal point for Alice Visentin, who for several years has been listening intently to her land. With her ear attuned to the inhabitants of the valley, the artist – her images dense in form and colour – charts a new political imagination that encapsulates the essence of a lived experience drenched in that magic folklore with which only rural history is so thoroughly impregnated. And today these voices, testaments to the end of a civilisation shunted aside for “economic wellbeing,” become essential in order to navigate a path through the interlacing of cultural models that often lack those values which once marked the rhythm of life in the fields.
Out of Alice Visentin’s approach to conducting research and her method of bringing it back to life through the bodies, landscapes, gestures and symbols infused with wonder that we come across in her paintings, there emerges her love for the existence of mankind and its condition, “Arendtially” singular and plural.
Accordingly, the artist knocks on the doors not only of the archives but also of the houses. She spends time with the people who live in the valley, shifting from a state of vigilant observer to one of creative interpreter, weaving a web of relationships based on trust, allowing herself to be fascinated by the words spoken by the voices that are custodians of truths and fantasies, where the precariousness of this limen represents the nucleus of the symbolic power of the historical imagination. The words, memories impressed upon the bodies of every individual, are taken on loan by the artist, who makes them her own, before being transferred onto the canvas and resuscitated in their state of wonder, in the astonishment of a recovered spiritual dimension. Shaped, modelled, generated through the gestures of her hand in harmony with those oral elements, collected and transmuted, Alice Visentin’s works become an expression not only of a context but 26 of an appearance evoked – one that, moreover, is very much necessary. With her explorations, she becomes at once a storyteller and historiographer: she magically reveals those strategies of resistance geared to- wards conserving women’s lives and identities, implemented individually or collectively by ordinary women, workers and warriors, where the moment of encounter and relation became a time of release in a world that had decided to marginalise, if not condemn, women and their power. Alice Visentin thus compiles and paints stories relegated to the margins, developing a series of narratives told through images. Her paintings liberate those tales imprisoned within the limits codi ed by offcial history, proposing alternative visions of it, composed of the association between real events, more private memories and details that are inscribed in a multiple, plural perceptive imagination. Working with lightness and restraint, identifying with the territory, setting aside space for play and for fantasy, the artist’s works lay the foundations for the constructing of a bridge between a suppressed history of the female condition and the legacies that it carries into the present. The artist tells the story of a woman who is transformed slowly from a sibyl, sorceress and fairy into a witch with the power to heal and cure but also to perpetrate evil, condemned by the Church, no longer free to be and to act. A witch imagined and invented by the community, or a witch of her own volition, out of rebellion, or destitution, or solitude; a woman cast as a witch out of envy, a witch for convenience in moments of scarcity, a witch as a lover of evil. These witches are ably described by Jules Michelet, where historical analysis, hegemonic forms of cultural life and magical folklore are combined. Repositories of memory, Alice Visentin’s paintings embrace her protagonists but also her viewers in a common, shared space in which poetry, magic and scattered voices of power and suffering are brought together to sing a version of the unsaid, which there is an increasingly urge to listen to and to stare into the face.

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Prima Persona Singolare, di Caterina Molteni scritto in occasione della mostra “Prima Persona Singolare”, Tile Project Space, Milano, 7 giugno al 7 luglio 2017
Alice Visentin sviluppa la sua pratica artistica attraverso un uso esclusivo della pittura intrapreso in una ricerca quotidiana sul medium. L’artista compone le proprie giornate in modo semplice: frequenta assiduamente il suo studio dove può dipingere all’aperto circondata dalla natura incolta del lungo Dora torinese, incontra il suo gruppo di amici le cui pratiche singolari si sono trasformate in un’esperienza condivisa di sensibilità e metodo di lavoro. L’attitudine al semplice ha dato forma ad un carattere artistico preciso che si esprime in una pittura tonale, priva di sfumature e ornamenti, così come nella scelta delle figure rappresentate: soggetti algidi, dai visi imperturbati e fieri, attraversati da porzioni di natura.
Influenzata dal concetto di equilibrio e purezza interiore della filosofia classica, insieme a quella sensibilità che in diverse epoche storiche riporta l’uomo a riconsiderarsi in comunione con la natura, l’artista ritrova nel concetto di ‘equanimità’ il punto più alto della saggezza umana. Caratterizzato da equilibrio e estraniazione dai turbamenti esteriori, l’equanime fa
della sua integrità – non riassumibile unicamente sotto le categorie morali – la postura con cui costruire ogni attimo della vita senza farsi travolgere. Imitando la bellezza in natura, la sua semplicità di forme che nasconde la complessità del suo tessuto interno, l’uomo crea un’architettura dello spirito che lo rende capace di un’empatia con l’ambiente. In opposizione alla vita mediata dal digitale, la pittura di Alice Visentin ricompone un linguaggio materiale i cui soggetti e i tratti sono stimolati dall’osservazione spontanea del mondo, dallo stupore e dalla sua meraviglia. 

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