by Giovanna Nicoletti
Anna Scalfi Eghenter’s research draws on her observation of reality. Obviously, a statement like this could easily be used to define the language of any artist, in any time and place. In the case of Anna Scalfi however, this representation of reality (and hence of its translation into signs) is rooted in a desire, perhaps almost a necessity, to attribute meaning – or rather a purpose – to everyday things.
Changing relationships is therefore the first step. For the artist, this need to consider language as a totalising experience of the senses probably has to do with the fact of having started out from the field of theatre and therefore from a world in which objects come together, take shape and are materialised through the body or the parts of it, be it in the physical or the sensorial acceptation. It is on the stage, in fact, and through the body of the actor that thoughts and their expression are given form via the voice, mime and expression. Anna Scalfi seems to apply the upshot of these experiences to the language of art and to take part in its expression through an exploration of spaces and their reappraisal, reinventing their forms and subverting their rules.
How can the anthropological, social and economic aspects be represented, and via their representation, modified? The answer is to be found in the opportunity to vary conventions through an association of thoughts which chase after one another, starting out from any surrealist evocation willing to let thought run free. Presented as symbolic images, thought reveals desires, drives, worries and questions in search of an answer (different every time) to the potential consequences of real actions.
In actual fact, the places in which the artist decides to intervene do not indicate a subversive change of rules, but rather a lawful tampering – if we may use this word – of the organisational dimension of actions. In the Riva Tennis Club, just like in that of Merano, Anna Scalfi intervenes by modifying the layout of the game (but not the rules of the game itself) so as to place the person centre stage. On the court, through the player’s actions, in the onlooker’s observation, the player is the real protagonist, not only in sporting terms but also those of him/herself. In this redesigned dimension, the player is forced to rethink his or her own strength, strategy and discipline. The artist’s actions call on us to serve as the protagonists of our own existence and thus to re-examine the meaning of our actions. The artist intervenes in the folds, wherever it is possible to trigger off a convergence of variables, recognised and protected by the institutions yet renegotiated in terms of their definition.
What Anna Scalfi represents is a new way of reading our surrounding reality. Not an imitation of the Renaissance gaze in which things seem to translate into a regular harmonic and uniform succession of composition, but rather a contemporary vision in which every single element leads back to the fragment. For it is the very partial vision that restores the whole, that creates a short circuit allowing for the redefinition of the rules of organisation and indeed of imagination, creating links between the various parts. The actions of the artist define single episodes in which reality is reconsidered in terms of its global dimension. Here the economic aspect encounters the socio-anthropological and cultural one within an allotted space, such as that of the institutions, where the organisational dimension may be given its own consolidation in the very context in which it arises.
Thus the artistic operation becomes a linguistic metaphor in which the word or the action are deprived of the referentiality of the agent so as to become one with the recipient of the communication process. The audience is the absolute protagonist of a theatrical work, activated within a sporting or political context, and the text – reconstructed by the artist – serves simultaneously as object and work. Rethinking tennis, as is the case of this project, means changing the perimeter of the playing field in order to see – through the language of art – the space between things in a different light.