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Hans Gercke, The dressing of the bride

Catalogue Heidelberger Kunstverain, Heidelberg, 1999

The silence of Marcel Duchamp is being overrated”, notes Joseph Beuys.


Mariella Bettineschi would certainly approve this statement and go even further: “the bride laid bare by her suitors” is dressed.

The artist calls his exhibition of Heidelberg “The dressing of the bride” and draws attention to related words related to this concept: it is not just about the dress, even if the dress in the literal sense has acquired an important meaning in a certain phase of the artist’s work, but of the investiture, of the dressing in the sense of being assumed, by a person, in his rights, of the conferral of the position that belongs to it.

In this context the indications given by Elio Grazioli in a noteworthy text, written for Mariella Bettineschi in 1997, are interesting: the German word Freier (pretender) is related to Freiheit (freedom) and Friede (peace), values ​​that need Einfriedung (fence), protection.

In fact, the dress is for Mariella Bettineschi the first protective ring that surrounds the human body, a primordial and elementary form of architecture. In Italian, the term dress is connected to that of living. It is in this field of tension between the inside and the outside, between sensation and environment, that the complex creative activity develops, as precise as it is poetic, of the artist.

The provocative quote by Duchamp does not signal nostalgia for the past. The retrospective re-elaboration of elements of a broken unity that can be inserted at will, perhaps according to the post-modern indifferent attitude, is not Bettineschi’s.

What is important, however, is to detach itself from that analytical rational coldness of individualization, to which the “nakedness of the bride” has brought.

It is to find the narration, to restore the aura, the surrounding space that connects the fragments of the world, despite today, we can not grasp it as a whole. It is to construct a context that makes justice to the complexity of the relationships between things. It is basically communication.

Mariella Bettineschi’s work can not be reduced to a single formal determinator.

It hates thinking in watertight departments, repugnant to any ideology. Because one of the phenomena that occurred following the silence of Duchamp – for those who did not turn, like him, back to art, but dared to continue to make art, after that zero point – was precisely that of research, sometimes almost forced, of a niche as the territory of a carefully protected Corporate identity and which then had to be jealously defended in front of competitors.

Mariella Bettineschi does not start from formal assumptions, since she is not interested in the form as a starting point for her work.

Rather, his artistic identity is based on a mental concept that does not mean a rational concept alone, but a broad process that encompasses mental and sensitive experiences and pushes towards communication, and from which a narration develops, which each time seeks, again, the forms, the necessary techniques.

With this antidogmatic freedom, Mariella Bettineschi impersonates a procedure that is by no means obvious in her generation, but today more and more widespread: in fact, many artists use lightly, not at all synonymous with indifference, different languages, play on several keys, without fear of violating the airspace of others and without fear of being killed by their own anti-aircraft.

Looking at the artist’s biography we see at the beginning an academic formation, although traditional, open to many experiences.

After some exhibitions, follow years of retreat and research of their identity.

In 1980 then Mariella Bettineschi stands out with the first interventions in the public space. Followed by exhibitions with strange works, manipulated papers until their material character changes completely. It is what we commonly believe to be their substance that Mariella Bettineschi fathoms.

Achille Bonito Oliva notes his work, invites her to the XLIII Venice Biennale.

Following his investigation of the complex and ambivalent character of the blue color, through works of extreme formal reduction, he participated in 1990 in the exhibition Blau farbe der ferne at Heidelberger Kunstverain.

Among the numerous works that will be born in public spaces is the beautiful Celestial Carriage that Mariella Bettineschi created in 1994 for the Amnon Barzel project The European sculptures City, in Turku, Finland.

In 1995, for the first time, a large cycle of drawings was presented by Mariella Bettineschi called Appunti.

They are basically plastic works in which the aphoristic designation of paper – quickly sketched architectural projects, but also simple signs, points, intersecting lines, stars and short verbal notations – are combined with photographic citations and spatial incisions. Allusion to the ornament and the organic, concise as a haiku.

Intersections and breakthroughs, stratifications, a rotation and play around centered formations, openings, gems. It flourishes then, through inventions that are as vigorous as they are delicate, almost from nothing, a rich cosmos, full of relationships. Perforation and cutting sometimes recall Fontana, and Fontana is also called a sheet that, as if by magic, with a few cuts, brings out a fountain from a page of printed book.

Mariella Bettineschi at the bottom is a sculptor. This also shows the clothes he made in 1996, using paper, but also other materials. Fragments of templates, drawn abbreviations, photographs, projections give rise to a complex cosmos from this source, significant for the current creation of the artist.

Economics and formal discipline combine delicately balanced with a complex conceptual spatial reference that makes each artist’s exhibition a special experience.

It never intends to make a more or less additive presentation, but always a very specific staging, referring to space, precisely designed on site.

In recent years, light plays an increasingly important role in the work of Mariella Bettineschi. The exhibition of Heidelberg is primarily devoted to this theme, but, as mentioned by the title, it is not so much a question of light as an isolated phenomenon, but of its strength, which touches playfully

things, transforms them, dresses them, transvestites, capable of creating, from matter, representation, visions.

For three years Bettineschi took photographs; for his hunting he preferred the period that promises light, Christmas. In the end, her loot consisted of a fund of about 4,000 slides, of which she chose, partly further elaborated, what is now distilled from the abundance of material.

Thus the central body of the exhibition was born, made up of five large sheets of glass on which the images transferred from their original reality are printed.

In the new reality of the exhibition and the catalog – which itself is not mere documentation, but an instrument of parallel narratives – they constitute a condensation of experiences that becomes a means of communication.

This procedure does not differ completely from Duchamp’s gesture, preceding his silence, in which he postulated that it was only the change of context that made everyday what we consider to be art.

Mariella Bettineschi does not withdraw a position prior to this recognition, even if it does not take it as a naked, disembodied figure. Rather, it makes it the starting point for a multi-layered political game, as ambiguous as the fragment of reality that has become entangled in its trap.

Here the fragment is returned in a new way, the complexity of its lost context. This happens through multiple processing phases, through the transposition above – or more precisely: behind – a glass plate that now enters in turn in correspondence with a new, different space, with light and shadow, with different ways of perception.

In the work of Mariella Bettineschi, dark contrasting elements, light shadow are joined together – not as extremes but with all the fullness of their mutual effects – delicacy and firmness, lucid dream, evidence and secrecy, unconditional precision and a playful, serene, Italian lightness – the creative activity of the artist is not excluded, but rather they complement each other in a specific essential way.

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