“Chiara Fumai: LESS LIGHT” at ISCP, New York
The International Studio & Curatorial Program announces the opening of LESS LIGHT, an exhibition by Chiara Fumai (1978–2017), a 2017 ISCP alumna. The artist’s first solo exhibition on this continent, LESS LIGHT brings together two of Fumai’s pioneering works, The Book of Evil Spirits (2015) and Dogaressa Elisabetta Querini, Zalumma Agra, Annie Jones, Dope Head, Harry Houdini, Eusapia Palladino read Valerie Solanas (2012-13), as well as a reenactment of the performance The S.C.U.M. Elite (2014) at the opening reception.
Fumai’s hybrid practice was deeply rooted in performance and her interests were far-reaching—encompassing radical feminism, chaos magick, terrorist propaganda and Italian Autonomist Marxism. In her work, she frequently deconstructed ideologies that have impeded women’s empowerment. Fumai performed as marginalized historical figures, transmitting occult messages that revived forgotten or discarded narratives.
This is the case in The Book of Evil Spirits, an expansive installation reminiscent of a psychic parlor that includes a suite of fifteen automatic drawings and photographs, performance props and a video in which Fumai channeled Eusapia Palladino, a nineteenth century Italian clairvoyant whose séances were attended by the likes of Nicholas II of Russia and Nobel laureates Marie and Pierre Curie. In turn, she conjures the spirits of a powerful group of women who also appeared throughout Fumai’s oeuvre since 2010. These women—Zalumma Agra, Ulrike Meinhof, and Annie Jones among them—transcend historical periods and geographies, united by their own desire to revolt against the conditions of oppression. Speaking to each other, they vocalize the veracity of Palladino’s séances and recite Carla Lonzi’s Manifesto di Rivolta femminile (1970) as well as other texts also quoted in Fumai’s prior live acts.
In Dogaressa Elisabetta Querini, Zalumma Agra, Annie Jones, Dope Head, Harry Houdini, Eusapia Palladino read Valerie Solanas, Fumai embodies the six people named in the work’s title in photographs. Some of the characters are shown reading from the S.C.U.M. Manifesto and others have it at hand, with a phrase from the manifesto, “A Male Artist is a Contradiction in Terms,” appearing on the wall in each image. The manifesto, published in 1967 by Valerie Solanas, ironically calls for a violent overturning of the patriarchy and the establishment of the Society for Cutting Up Men (S.C.U.M.) as the means to do so. The extreme struggles of Solanas, who is perhaps best known today for having shot Andy Warhol in 1968, are reanimated in each of Fumai’s photographs.
A publication will accompany the exhibition, with texts by Stefano Collicelli Cagol and Kari Conte, an interview published in English for the first time between the artist and Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, and a new introduction by the interviewers.
LESS LIGHT is curated by Kari Conte, Director of Programs and Exhibitions at ISCP and Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, directors of the Chiara Fumai archive.
at ISCP, New York
until 17 May 2019