On the occasion of her fourth solo show at pinksummer, Stefania Galegati Shines presents a project that moves off the gallery to let some words by Rosa Matteucci flow on Genoa’s alleys pavement down to the sea. An unpublished tale was written on purpose by Rosa Matteucci for the project, inspired by a real love story occurred in Genoa during World War II.
Stefania Galegati Shines’ work starts from the stairs of Palazzo Ducale to eventually dive into the harbor’s water. The only evidence of that story displayed in the gallery will be Rosa Matteucci’s manuscript. Another work featured in the show will be an object that travels with the artist in a specific suitcase.
The suitcase will be left in gallery. Every day, during the opening time, the object will be extracted and held in arms. Never shall it be at rest. Before the closing, the object will be laid back into the suitcase.
The object is made from found wood, driven ashore by the sea. In the gallery, there will be some drawings on food wrapping paper, telling about architecture, summer colonies and gymnastic. There will be also a little painting that apparently has nothing to do with the rest.
What follows is a conversation between Rosa Matteucci and Stefania Galegati Shines, with some interventions by pinksummer.
Rosa Matteucci: Why did you think at a story written on the street pavement, just there where dogs use to pee?
Stefania Galegati Shines: While walking I have often desired to be accompanied by something. I’ve been thinking at hearing the same radio station playing in different houses.
R.M: Like moving forward in life with a soundtrack, something that let me think at Arianna’s thread.
S.G.S: Moreover, I have always loved to read on board, I used to read while traveling by train so that often life and the stories I was reading started mixing together.
R.M: You mixed the written words, that because of their nature are something that remains – verba volant scripta manent – with random, accidental, and not predestined actions of persons in motion.I think that necessity and chance are the same thing. I do not believe there is any free will, nor that one can choose to give a direction to his or her life instead of another one. Chance, fate, destiny, coincide with necessity, it is just what you deserve in a certain moment, even though you are not aware of that. Do you agree?
S.G.S: I agree, but I don’t think at a superior will… do you?
R.M: Not necessarily, rather than at a superior will, I think at a machinery.
S.G.S: Some sort of chemistry, physics, which makes sense to us.
R.M: A machinery that is a physical law too. Think at the philosophical, intellectual and also religious appeal of the second law of thermodynamics, the one on entropy. It all starts at rest, a quiet that vanishes gradually because any act, action, increase the entropy, that is a destructive force. All gets destroyed and eventually it all get back at rest again. Our life proceeds across the time in the middle of such a mess of actions, words, movements. Let’s not talk about philosophy though, let’s talk about what is a woman today. What should a woman today own today?
S.G.S: Bimby? You know that the first time you told me about it on Skype, I thought it was some kind of ice cream brand, I confused it with Bindy. Oh my gosh, I was wrong! I googled that too, but I can’t find anything.
R.M: You should have tried with “Vorwerk”
R.M: It’s that German brand producing the deadly Folletto.
Pinksummer: During the 70s, Vorwerk made also some kind of bonnet…
R.M: …that you put on your head and connect to the vacuum cleaner tube…
P: and you used that as an helmet hair dryer for curlers.
S.G.S: That’s brilliant!
R.M: After making some sort of anthropological survey, I noticed that nearly all contemporary women own that kitchen robot called Bimby.
S.G.S: Listen Rosa, do you desire that Bimby?
R.M: No, but I feel like being excluded, one pariah.
Do you know why I’m telling you this, because in my life, in my biography, I have never been in the right place at the right time. I have been always kicked out of my place wherever it was: at school I’ve got no desk, I’ve got no bed at home, no shoes, I’ve never got anything. I feel that sense of lack like an equivalent of being refused. I don’t desire any material good, but Bimby seems like an indispensable certificate to me, an identity card. With Bimby, I would feel reassured on being part of the contemporary female community. Also there is an other thing: why does it call Bimby? It is called Bimby because of a subliminal message: you woman give birth to some children (TN: bimbi in Italian), therefore you need that little robot that is some kind of servant, a maid of all work.
I think it had such a big diffusion just because of its absurd price; any other little kitchen robot costs 300 Euro, Bimby cost about five times as much as that. Its appeal is tied to the idea of motherhood: Bimby, Bimby is there and with it you can fulfill any whim.
But in our case you (Stefania) the mother don’t have Bimby. So what?
S.G.S: As a matter of fact, I, the mother, have got no Bimby. You should know what I use instead though, as you will be horrified by that. I have an object called Babypappa, I didn’t even buy it, someone passed it to me.
S.G.S: Electric. Generally I hate electric appliance, but this was given to me to let my children eat when they were little babies. Once I used to grate food and do everything by hand, then, for my second son was born, this grinding tool came up.
By now it’s held together by scotch tape.
R.M: Does this little thing you have just grind or beat and do something else?
S.G.S: It just grinds, it is a mini Bimby. Actually it can make also warm homogenized food, but I don’t use that function because my children have grown up. Now they eat everything.
R.M: You escaped Bimby, but you have got this little mini bimby anyway.
S.G.S: Yes, but this is a simple grinder, not a Bimby, just a piece of junk that is still there thanks to the tape. If you saw it, it would give you the creeps, but it is indeed useful to grind.
R.M: Do you think that in a love story – as after all we are here to speak about love stories – something like Bimby or a similar tool, by hook or by crook, might have a role?
S.G.S: For sure Bimby has something to do with a love story… You know, with this thing on Bimby, you let me think… actually I’m thinking about it since a few years, as I can say: “I’ve been through that”… You were talking about today’s woman, what does she need. Well, I think that today’s woman managed to break free from man slavery thanks to the appliances. I always have hated them and I even refused the washing machine!
R.M: How did you wash clothes? By hand?
S.G.S: I’ve been washing by hand for three years. On and on. Washing is a beautiful action after all.
R.M: Did you wash sheets too. Are sheets are laborious?
sgs: Sheets are laborious, but the process is beautiful, I used to get totally wet on the terrace and there was something kind of African in that process…
R.M: Did you quit washing by hand now?
S.G.S: At a certain point, I have got a washing machine and guess how much time I have now. Awesome! I said to myself: “Wow, I can think again!” The ’68 revolution coincided with the introduction of the washing machine and the women’s liberation.
R.M: Do you add softening, color catcher and anti-limescale?
sg: No. I should do that, right?
R.M: Well, yes.
S.G.S: I’m no good at that stuff, I feel that soon I could have no washing machine again.
R.M: Me too, I’m against domestic appliance and machines in general, it’s because of my very naive, primitive, approach to things. If I could, I would use candles, it is better with candles, but I think that eventually one can deal with that stuff and end up saying : “Alright, you have won with your appliance”. Well then you must use them as you are supposed to, using for example all the functions of a washing machine, even the craziest, like the silent one, spinless, cachemire sweater, baby, bra and all that bullshit. At that point you should come up with your favorite detergent. You do have a favorite detergent, do you?
S.G.S: I still haven’t found it, what about you? What is yours?
R.M: It is called Felce Azzurra Paglieri.
P: Isn’t it a bubble bath?
R.M: You are really ignorant! They produce the series “Lava Lava Lava”.
S.G.S: Is the bubble bath the blue one?
R.M: They made the washing machine detergent with the same perfume of the bubble bath and the softener too, and I pour it abundantly to let it scent better. Also, one time I put the color catching paper, another time I put the color catching bag with anti-limescale salts.
S.G.S: Beautiful! I don’t even know what all these things are.
R.M: I wash by hand too.
S.G.S: You see, you wash by hand too, you are an ancient woman like me.
R.M: I washed by hand absurd things too, like blankets.
R.M: Once I washed a carpet in garden and my dog made a terrible mess. It took eight summer days for that carpet to dry, it became incredibly heavy. I have washed everything by hand: shoes, coats, I washed a raincoat too, it has been a disaster because that raincoat had a water resistant coating, a water-repellent substance, that was washed out by Marseille soap and now I get all soaked when it rains. I would like to feel a woman like the others even without Bimby.
S.G.S: Well, actually it sounds ok to me: we are four women talking to each other and none of us has Bimby. It’s a good sign.
rm: We are niche losers, perhaps gathered by instinct. There is an instinct according to which similar people get together, if we had been fulfilled women, successful in their job, their family, their maternity, we would have had the Bimby! But If we are here this way, we are a few losers, envious of the bourgeois solidity. It is not only an external solidity, it has a strong core. You can hide yourself behind these apparently solid families, even though spiritual suffering, fears, graze you equally after all. But if I had some Bimbys and other diverse appliances, I would hide myself too and not just physically.
S.G.S: Do you have a vacuum cleaner?
R.M: Yes, but I don’t use any hair dryer, I’m afraid of hair dryers like dogs are. When my mother was using the hair dryer, the dog barked.
S.G.S: Is that because of the noise? Noise annoys me.
R.M: Not at all, I’m afraid of the electric blanket too, I couldn’t sleep under an electric cover. Even though this morning was cold, I have washed my hair and have spent one hour drying them with some linen swabs and they are still moist.
S.G.S: Don’t you get headache?
R.M: I don’t get ache, but I’ve got to stand these moist hair. I have been very hesitant with the computer too, it’s an other diabolic modern instrument, and even this thing we are doing now, with that tiny little window where one can see your face.
S.G.S: Sure, because you can’t smell it.
P: Rosa, thinking about that, in your novel you wrote that house cleaning saves life.
R.M: That comes from the fact that in my family, a family with strong traditions, there was a crowd of people cleaning: they cleaned up the garden, the house, they cleaned up everything and anything and that made me feel safe and gave me a sense of stability. Then things starts to totter. I grew up in a country house that eventually was sold by auction. During last months, it was summer, nobody was cleaning any more, only my grandma have been cleaning until the end. Everything got wrecked, the house was split apart, furniture was put up for auction, electricity was disconnected, we were left with candles. I connect the end of my family with the decay of our house. I would not call it exactly an obsession, but I would not live in a dirty house. It could be the most humid house, a hut with terrible furniture, but it must be clean. It’s one of the feminine virtue to know how to make the hut cosy. I’m not good at that though, I am an intellectual, while there are women who knows how to do that, they can have some clever clean up.
P: Stefania, could you tell us more about your project with Rosa’s words?
S.G.S: It’s like a different kind of monument, a monument in form of a tale. I even like the idea of using graffiti, a language normally used illegally. To write onto the city.
R.M: To write well in a bad way.
S.G.S: Graffiti artists often choose ugly places in order to embellish them with their work.
R.M: My personal appraisal of the action of graffiti artists is fairly variable. Sometimes it disturbs to me.
S.G.S: The limit is very thin, I like to play with this sort of contrast. I also like the fact that the tale will disappear: this mark on the city might sound a little banal to tell, but it is beautiful to see if you consider that it will eventually be erased by the daily passage.
R.M: It will remain a story with holes and other possible reading perhaps.
S.G.S: Can you say again the brand of Bimby?
R.M: Bimby is only one, it is made by Vorwerk, the one of the Folletto, all the others are bullshit replicas, and a woman who would like to be defined such, high forehead in the contemporary society, must own Bimby.
P: “Perk up pouting household surfaces with new miracle Ubik”.
Pinksummer and Stefania Galegati Shines would like to thank Giuliano Ballerini, Tania Ballerini, Gabi Curiel De Mattei, Shalom Eugenia De Mattei Graubardt, Cristina Romeo, besides Rosa Matteucci.
Pinksummer would also thank Stefano Pieri, Andrea Modon, Lorenza Risso from the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti.