Going Away (Improvisation)

Going Away (Improvisation), HD video on DVD, 4’50”

The discovering of writings and stories coming from what is called “the feminist nebula in Italy in the 70s” [2] is the point of departure of this work.
The video is composed by three main elements: places, words and bodies.
The places I show in the video are three buildings that played a significative role for the feminist movement in my own city during the 70s and in the 80s: a former self organized sexual health clinics and two meeting places of feminist groups. Now these places are completely forgotten, being respectively a dressmaker’s shop, a private flat and a garage, and I was able to locate them only thanks to the help of women who took part to the women’s movement in my city.

The “soundtrack” of the video is composed by a text, made up of fragments from the book Vai pure (Feel free to leave), and Shut up, even talk. Diary of a feminist, written by the former art critic and feminist Carla Lonzi. She was one of the main thinker of the italian feminism, founder of the Rivolta Femminile (Women’s Revolt) group: most of the seminal texts of feminism was elaborated by this group and by Lonzi. In particular they developed the concept of sexual difference and the pratice of autocoscienza. “Man has interpreted woman,” she writes, “according to an image of femininity which is an invention of his . . .” According to her “woman carries out a symbolic revolution by putting herself in the position of the subject.”[1]

Despite the importance of her theoretical writings, the texts I chose have a more private charachter and came after the theoretical ones: both of these books try to account the attempt to put the woman revolution in practice, reporting all the failures and the contradictions, the feelings of loneliness, guiltiness, fear, anger, envy etc she experiences during her path.

Indeed one is her daily diary, while the other is a four days long recorded conversation between she and her partner (the artist Pietro Consagra) about their splitting up: it is an oscillation between the need for autonomy and dependency, between exposition and vulnerability, between the fear of disappearing on public sphere and the impossibility of staying.

These oscillations are embodied in the video by the two dancers through a contact improvisation session, with the rule of touching each other’s body mainly by the head; the movements follow the rythm of the words. Contact improvisation dance tecnique was developed in the same years of the Lonzi’s texts, and this dance technique uses points of physical contact to provide the starting point for exploration through movement improvisation.

Two different voices read the text, by two women of different generations; one, Vittoria Ciolini, being a gallerist and a activist of the feminist nebula in the 70s, now in her sixties, and the other in her thirties, as if she were her daughter or Vittoria at that time.

The video tries to face with the issues raised by those women who “created the circumstances through which the transformation of the self and others became possible”[2], and with their disappearing, their absence as well: it is both a tribute and an attempt to take them alive.

Going Away (Improvisation) has been conceived and displayed into the video exhibition curated Posseduti dall’amore,  by Stefano Taccone ( Straniamenti 2011 – Theater and Visual Art Festival directed by Gabriella Maiolo e Adelaide di Nunzio, Roccella Jonica; Spazio Corale, Milan) and in Mulier Mulieris 13, Museo de la Universidad de Alicante, Alicante, Spagna, 2013.

Video transcript

You know, what the relationship really is, has never been clarified. Here the relationship is private, two-way, with no witness.It seems to me that culture tends to gather strangers on items which are outward to everyone
Even art keeps people there open-mounthed thrown on what is suggested to them.
I felt it as a means of the society to let its members ather without having gazed at one another and feel neverthless inside the culture, the society, several values.
Distrusted about relations.

Nobody has ever kept you out, you left yourself out by yourself.
Nobody has evere kept me out when I was playing the role, I was pretty good in playing the role, can you imagine someone trying to keep me out?

If man is in power, if he makes an instrument of everything, if he uses everything, it is a man who works. Yet, this is a contradiction of your own, if you want at the same time to be unsettling and to exercise a power.

And you keep thinking I have to become your partner in crime, otherwise nothing.

This self-production is not true, it doesn’t exist, we have to come to and understanding on what originality is. It is not anymore that accurate parcelling out of oneself from the context, it is admitting the context. For me it goes as a whole. I have no intention to give up now. Nobody recognizes another for free. One has not interest in it unless it is forced out of him. Unless it is profitable to do so, no one likes to recognize another.

So far, I believe that is only you confronting with me and you could comfortably give me a kick as you could do to a little dog biting your calves and you throw it away and so I am thrown away.

But the new point with you is that: you are the conflict too. That is the new situation. We need to check how we can carry it on.

You know, sometimes you could fear that changing just one thing, everything changes.

You know where it ends then? If you deny me I am air again, I am speaking air.
This vanishing distressed me before. I didn’t want that something passed in vain. Now, I myself let go what first I wanted to keep, the meaning of a thing.

Half reactions, attempts to a different life, revolutions quickly suppressed, uprisings, road demonstrations, utopian projects happen, but suddenly everything is stopped because this condition is unbearable for a whole life. Now we are going to break up and this conversation is full of pain.

When I feel the impulse to escape I make me the hardest conditions I don’t want to get out. Sometimes I get scared about what I let fall.
The “against” that comes out now is the culminating point of the dissension.

Probably the monster behind all our talking is that at this point the man feels he has to put into question his position of power.

Now all the arguing ends, since I realize that I talk in order to change life and I understand things since I try to change them. The moment I see they are unchangable I don’t know what to add anymore.
Now go if you wish to go. Now of course go.

Everything I’ve encountered but that cancelled me, even the gratest of wonders, it doesn’t intrigue me anymore.



Excerpt from

Carla Lonzi. Vai Pure, Dialogo con Pietro Consagra (Feel free to go, Conversation with Pietro Consagra). Scritti di rivolta femminile, Milano, 1980

Carla Lonzi. Taci, anzi parla. Diario di una femminista (Shut up, even talk. Diary of a feminist). Scritti di rivolta femminile, Milano, 1978.

Translated by Beatrice Passerini.


[1] Carla Lonzi, Sputiamo su Hegel – We spit on Hegel (Rome-Milan: Scritti di Rivolta femminile, 1970), 37. Translated into English in Patricia Jagenlowicz Mills, Feminist Interpretations of G. W. F. Hegel (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), 275 – 298 and in Italian Feminist Thought : A Reader (London: Blackwell, 1991).
[2] May magazine, Fulvia Carnevale, Entrée en matière, n.4, 06/2010.