Las Mitocondria - Hysteria. De Secretis Naturae

Until 20 July
Exhibition closed

"In me l’anima c’era della meretrice
della santa della sanguinaria e dell’ipocrita.
Molti diedero al mio modo di vivere un nome
e fui soltanto una isterica" (Alda Merini)

On Tuesday 5th of June 2018, AlbumArte, an independent space for contemporary art, inaugurates the personal exhibition of the Spanish duo Las Mitocondria (Alicia Herrero and María Ángeles Vila Tortosa), who, since 2008, have been involved in artistic research aimed at combining graphics and paintings with contemporary dance. The show, titled Hysteria. De Secretis Naturae, is curated by Paula Ugolini, and presents a series of new works that have been specifically realized for the spaces of AlbumArte.

Hysteria is currently recognized as a neurotic pathology characterized by physical symptoms that have no biological basis. Since the times of ancient Greece, medical examinations would erroneously consider it a distinctive disease of the female, caused by a dysfunction of the uterus. Moreover, in the Middle Ages hysteria was thought to be linked to demonic forces and hysterics were exorcised. The belief that this was a kind of supernatural illness was gradually overcome by the beginning of the 18th century, and a century later the diagnosis of hysteria was based on symptoms that are very similar to those of epilepsy but, still, it was thought to be an exclusively female syndrome.

It is precisely this link between hysteria and being a woman that the work of the two artists focuses on, addressing the vicious idea that women are inherently incapable of managing their emotions which results in a clear discriminatory and derogative attitude towards femininity in general.

María Ángeles Vila Tortosa will intervene in the spaces of AlbumArte with a large site-specific installation that will almost completely cover the walls of the first room with a series of engravings on paper, in addition to other works on canvas of different formats, as in an art gallery of the Renaissance. At the center of the room there will be a large wooden box, creating a kind of theatrical atmosphere, wherein Alice Herrero will perform a dance on the opening day. This will be seen by visitors from the outside, spying through several holes placed on the walls of the box itself. For the artist, this giant envelope becomes the conceptual and formal representation of hysteria.

Another performance by María Ángeles Vila Tortosa will take place in the adjoining room that becomes a sort of second open box and in which the visitor will be part of an immersive action. Numerous light boxes will be placed inside, with depictions of the four elements (air, water, earth, fire). These are represented among the iconographies of the 18th century arch of the village of Rivodutri in Sabina, Lazio, an arch also known as the “alchemical gate”. The elements will also be connected with human organs (heart, liver, brain, intestines, lungs, kidneys) so as to transform them into symbols of an esoteric exploration that aims at the union between body and spirit. The play of volumes created by the artist on the walls of the ‘box-room’ becomes a metaphor that represents both the body and the mind.