In June 2021, while in Italy we were in full lockdown, the CHEAP collective from Bologna offers me to participate in the public art project “La lotta è FICA”***. The proposal is to imagine a poster that embodies, for me, an intersectional feminist, anti-racist and sex positive body. La lotta è FICA constitutes of 25 posters made by as many artists and installed on the central Via Indipendenza in Bologna.
The posters depict feminist struggles that intersect anti-racism, the queer gaze on genders finds physicality, women's bodies, trans bodies and eccentric bodies are welcome. 25 artists were called together: illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, performers, cartoonists, street artists - a plurality of media that corresponds to a vast sample of biographies and visions, united by the perspectives of transfeminism.
The creator and curator of the operation is CHEAP, the public art project based in Bologna founded in 2013 by six women: La lotta è FICA is their first intervention carried out since the beginning of the lockdown and was significantly chosen to underline how feminism is an essential activity.
Here the link of the project:
The photo, taken on Claudia's house’s terrace, was the first shot I took in the Covid era. We live very close, our neighborhood is crowded with lesbian and queer micro-communities: houses, bookstores, bars, night clubs. This proximity of bodies and affections has allowed us to face the pandemic more or less "together".
With Claudia’s help, I then modified the raw material of my body by working in post-production with a graphic program, trying to make the image adhere as much as possible to my wishes. -I am like that if I wish to be. –I don't have to adhere to your canons. –I don't want two big breasts, I want six small ones. –I am my body, my body is what I am. –I want more body hair. –I am more body hair.
I then decided to outline and cut out the image to make it (literally) adhere to any surface, wall, color or texture of the city. In the case of the Bologna poster, the background is the billboards of previous torn posters.
I'm not a topic of discussion, I am like that.
The poster, in life size, 2D, 1.76m (5,7 feet) high, it is equipped with a second poster to be glued on that bears this claim: COSì È (SE MI PARE) - IT IS SO (IF I LIKE SO). Playing with the title of the Pirandello novel, I bring the theater - the environment where I usually act - into a discourse of self-determination of the body.
A few weeks after the wild-posting - the poster is a unique copy, posted on Bologna’s main street - a woman senator of the Lega, a right-wing and xenophobic party, reported the presence of the work on facebook, generating a wave of hate towards me. I have no intention of reporting the documentation of the thousands of insults received, directed at my person and at the art-work, I prefer to share here one of the letters of support that I received. In this case, it comes from the transfemministaqueer autonomous research and collective center – CRAAAZI in Bologna.
It is actually starting from this letter, from how the companionesses understood this action not as an artistic work that belongs to its author, but as a space of possibility that concerns and belongs to everyone, that the desire to make this action become epidemic, arises.
We write this post to address our companionESS and brotherESS, to express complicity and closeness to her and admiration for her wonderful body re-produced by herself for the Cheap campaign “La lotta è FICA”***, a body that continues to share itself generously, allowing us to make sense of our discourses. Discourses that we speak, write, translate, archive, and which, however, are often not understood, because in fact "we want to create confusion in people".
The poster of the magnificent creature was conceived and created while our bodies were separated by the lockdown: as in a butterfly cocoon, it took shape to take flight in a world that we hoped to find, after all, changed.
That body today occupies the public stage questioning us. In the days of Pride it asks us about who and what has the right to visibility; in the days, during which, Non Una di Meno takes to the streets inviting us to air our dirty laundry in the square, it questions us about the bonds of mutual responsibility in moments of vulnerability; it questions us about what world we want to find today, in and out of homes, in and out of cocoons.
These questions challenge us directly as a Research and Archive Center, precisely because they trace our reflections on dissident biographies, on living bodies that preserve the memory of our gestures of struggle, on nature as a place of resistance and conflicts and on the production and circulation of embodied and collective knowledge, outside the museums and academic institutions. Our paths have met several times with her, receiving material assistance and support, even thanks to the translation into powerful gestures and images like this.
That body, however, hers, the body of a real person made of flesh and bone, as well as possessing six small tits and a Giga-hair, is the subject of a very aggressive campaign of insults and threats of absurd violence, because identified as a symbol of entire communities that have struggled to occupy the public scene.
Her poster opens up unpredictable imagery about what bodies can be and what they can do. And it is precisely for this reason that it perturbs those who want to write, in the name of a natural-law truth, a definitive word that deprives us of our freedom to choose how to imagine ourselves and how far to push our desire.
The world we dreamed, in our closed homes, is a world in which nature, freed from conservative and Catholic morality, could take over and wipe out the hate campaigns of the various sentinels, of the traditional-Family people, of the fascists arm in arm with religious fundamentalists, who we faced last year in transfeminist Verona, and who we will be ready to face again wherever they appear.
This work by Silvia, once again, generously stages a wonderful and unexpected body, capable of perturbing; which is what art must do, if it decides not to be pure aesthetics. Art must produce another imagery, while reflecting on how to destroy the symbols of colonialism, patriarchy and the culture of rape. We do not consider her works to be provocations, because although we are pleased that they frighten prudes and moralists, they are not her interlocutors, who instead are a whole world of people, biographies and bodies, which are usually violently expelled from the framework of representability.She breaks the rule that only what whose vision is tolerable can be staged, because it is reassuring and it can be consumed. We also think of all the girls and boys who, without her example, would not have a model to imagine themselves outside the strict and narrow canons of what boys and girls have to do to be good and beautiful.
Her body is hers and belongs to her, but for us it cannot be a place of battle for speculation, because it is already a political body that has given shape to everything we tend to, but which we had not yet been able to imagine, it allows us to write other futures of representation, and more generally, envision the world we want.