In 2004, Rossella Biscotti created a wall work that took up the slogan “La cinematografia é l’arma più forte” Mussolini had coined in 1937 for the opening of the film studio Cinecittà in Rome. The work thus drew a parallel between fascism and the present political situation in Italy, which was then led by the media tycoon Berlusconi, while also reflecting on the risks political and economic attempts to exploit art pose to the field. Biscotti’s videos, sculptures, installations, and spatial interventions address memory and the limits of objective historiography. The point of departure for her work is a reconstruction of historical events, often from recent Italian history or the annals of the political left. By contrasting personal recollections, for instance in the form of interviews and conversations, with ostensibly objective historic documents, she deconstructs the myth of objective truth, offering individual diversity and ambiguity against hegemonic historiography.
The multimedia installation Il processo (The Trial)—work on it began in 2010 and is ongoing—examines the political climate in early-1980s Italy, when the government took repressive measures against leftist movements such as the extra-parliamentary group Autonomia Operaia. Numerous intellectuals, writers, teachers, and others were charged with terrorist and subversive acts. Some of the people convicted in the “April 7th” trial are well known today, like the philosophers Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno, two thinkers who are influential in today’s art discourse. Witness testimony in written form and as audio documents are part of Biscotti’s work, as are documentary performance pieces and casts of those components of the building that were added when the former fencing academy was converted into a high-security court building (it no longer serves as a courthouse). Transposed into the exhibition context, these casts occupy an ambivalent position between minimalist sculpture, historical documentation, and political monument. The interplay between the work, the art discourse, and the political context is something Biscotti already addressed in earlier pieces such as After Four Rotations of A, B Will Make one Revolution (2009), for which she translated the specific materials and weights of figurative socialist sculptures into minimalist shapes.
Biscotti’s exhibition in the Grafisches Kabinett at the Secession is her first solo show in Austria.
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