Territori instabili: exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi – by Andrew Saba

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Sigalit Landau, DeadSee, 2005. Video still, Courtesy the Artist.
Sigalit Landau, DeadSee, 2005. Video still, Courtesy the Artist.
Andrew Saba, Student at the Gonzaga in Florence University
Andrew Saba
Student at the Gonzaga in Florence University

Territori instabili is a contemporary art exhibit at the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. The exhibit features a diverse range of works such as videos, photographs, and other captivating pieces dealing with the hardships of living in third world countries. The cost for the exhibit is three euros for international students and five euros for regular admission, and this exhibit will be on display through January 19th, 2014. The times of this exhibit are Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 – 20:00, except for Thursday where it runs until 23:00. Territori Instabili challenges the viewer’s perception of what borders and boundaries really are and what territories actually mean to the individual versus the community as a whole. The exhibit begins with two videos that show how “territory” is not just a geographical area, but instead how it can refer to social restrictions and how it is a part of our psychological globe. The first film, Barbed Hula, shows the fragility of the skin layers on a human body, which are used to represent the land and inhabitants of Israel.

Sigalit Landau, DeadSee, 2005. Video still, Courtesy the Artist.
Sigalit Landau, DeadSee, 2005.
Video still, Courtesy the Artist.

Sigalit Landau, the artist of this video, uses her own body to swing the barbed wire hula-hoop around her stomach, causing bleeding and permanent scarring as the wire tears through her skin during each rotation. This child’s game soon becomes an instrument of torture that perfectly represents her home country’s political and historical tension. The second film, DeadSee, another work by Sigalit Landau, consists of a spiral made up of 500 watermelons floating on an area of water. Landau is laying on one of the inner layers of the spiral surrounded by half cracked open watermelons. As the watermelons, held together by string, begin to unravel, her body is no longer given the same protection needed to survive. She holds on tight to a watermelon strand nearest to her and is reeled back to the shore. This metaphor represents the Dead Sea and how it is border to Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian territory. This video depicts how the people of these countries change going from border to border. Landau and the watermelons represent flesh, and the salt water that changes our bodies, as well as the watermelons, represent external forces in the territory that modify and destroy our protective barriers. The open watermelons are representing open wounds in which salt from the water, metaphorically, is being poured onto our cuts and bruises. Other noteworthy pieces include The Enclave, by Richard Mosse, featuring videos of the hardships of the Congo due to constant conflict between the central government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the local militias wanting control over North and South Kivu, and Paolo Cirio’s Loophole for All showing how people have been avoiding taxes and transferring money from third world countries to across the globe.

Paulo Nazareth, Untitled, 2012, from Noticias de America (News from the Americas)
Paulo Nazareth, Untitled, 2012, from Noticias de America (News from the Americas).
Photo printing on cotton paper, Courtesy Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (Brazil)

One other artist that caught my eye was Paulo Nazareth, a Brazilian whose pictures showed his struggles from South America until his journey’s end in New York. Through the art you can see how the Paulo Nazareth questioned his sense of self, and condition of mobility, physically and symbolically. Territori Instabili really captures the lifestyles of other countries and reflects the physical, mental, psychological and personal instability that occurs within the people of these areas of the world. At the end of the exhibit, past The Cool Couple works, is a wall where you can write what borders you would tear down if you had the chance. The most interesting responses are shared on the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina’s Facebook page.

Andrew Saba
Student at the Gonzaga in Florence University

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