Kayne Griffin Corcoran is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Italian artist Giulia Piscitelli. Wide Rule includes a series of tapestries, sculptures, drawing, photographs, and a video work. The phrase ‘Wide Rule’ is taken from the cover of a typical American notebook, used simply to describe the spacing between the lines on each page. Separated individually, these two words seem to stand in opposition, yet together they suggest an openness to language and its interpretation. In this exhibition Piscitelli seeks, in her own words, to “give wideness to regulation.”
Wide Rule includes a new group of tapestries, each making reference to symbols found within American history and often with a pointed relation to masonry or, more generally, to ‘work’. Using the textural richness of velvet as a canvas, Piscitelli uses bleach to draw, a process in which creation and destruction become inextricably entwined. Several tapestries display a symbol of utility—for example an anvil, a tuning fork, a level, and a compass—humble objects of work or production yet nonetheless each with their own historical and cultural significance. On others appear more material icons such as the “1” of a dollar bill, a simple handshake, or the familiar Coca Cola script written in a foreign language, portending the slyer undertones of creation and exchange. Shown alongside these works is a video of the artist engaging with her tapestries through the familiar domestic ritual of ironing. This performance of historically ‘female’ work is enacted in repetitive motion, like the mechanisms of a factory, while the wig half-obscuring Piscitelli’s face takes an excerpt from Pop Art. Emphasizing the tension between mundane action and its alienation from the ‘correct’ context, Piscitelli meditates upon the complex relationship between labor, subjectivity, and gender. Further indexing this relationship are two photographs of a woman—in one she stands outside of a factory, in another she is sewing—who could easily be mistaken for the artist herself.
In her work, Piscitelli has found herself driven to rescue the debris of modern life, often shifting the visual significance or site of ‘meaning’ within these objects. Referencing icons of Italian cultural history, in a new set of sculptures Piscitelli has repurposed a group of objects. Seemingly united by their intended use in assisting or creating movement, Piscitelli adorns each with the Ferrari emblem. The yellow logo, pulled from covers of found Ferrari Encyclopedias, represents the apex of Italian industry and manufacturing, yet it also signifies a culture of luxury and excess deeply at odds with the country’s recent austerity measures. In her Aureole collages, floating discs of gold leaf echo halos extracted from Renaissance paintings, here overlaid onto selected sections from maps of Italy. In these striking compositions codified bodies of land become placeholders for an invisible human or mythological body beneath each glowing halo. Piscitelli’s appropriation of these references circles the core of her artistic output, elevating these castoff items carefully collected by the artist while at the same time using this very process to address their status as objects in our world.
Giulia Piscitelli’s works have been included in exhibitions at the Venice Biennale (2011), The Fondazione Giuliani, Rome (2011), Kunsthalle Basel (2010), the Berlin Biennial (2008), and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007). She was born in 1965 in Naples, Italy, where she lives and works.
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