Curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi and Milovan Farronato
in collaboration with Mara Montanaro.
On September 9th 2021, La Loge will inaugurate Poems I Will Never Release, 2007-2017, an exhibition dedicated to the work of Chiara Fumai (b. Rome, 1978–d. Bari, 2017), curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi and Milovan Farronato, in collaboration with Mara Montanaro.
Following on from two major presentations of the retrospective at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (2020) and Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato (2021), La Loge has conceived an intimate chapter in a series of exhibitions coordinated by several European institutions, whose aim is to preserve Fumai’s legacy and allow a wider access to her work. Poems I Will Never Release, 2007-2017 will run until November 13th. The exhibition will be accompanied by a public programme of conferences in autumn 2021 at La Loge, further deepening the investigation into Fumai’s work, namely her rich contribution to performance art and feminist aesthetics over the course of the 21st century.
The extraordinary artist Chiara Fumai inscribed her work in a political and feminist claim. Ever refusing to be victimized, minoritized, or diminished as a female artist, Fumai adopted the vocabulary of threat, offence, revolt, vandalism, violence, and boredom to produce uncomfortable situations, collages, environments, and actions in order to foster her ideals of anarchist feminism. Playing an ironic game of “true fiction” and using the techniques of remixing and channeling, Chiara Fumai’s performative pieces evoke female figures who, with their courage and anger, left their mark on human history just before being excluded or forgotten.
Chiara Fumai’s hybrid practice blends performance art and occult spiritualism, stemming from the artist’s fascination for Theosophy, an occult movement originating in the late 19th century in the United States. Poems I Will Never Release, 2007-2017 focuses on the relationship between feminism and esoteric, magical, and ritual practices: a coalescence that constitutes one of the major throughlines of Fumai’s oeuvre. This chapter at La Loge aims to show how the artist contaminated the grammar and style of conceptual art with other unrecognized forms of immaterial art such as séances, vaudeville, public sermons, and magic acts. The presentation—including installations, sound pieces, collages, and the video works resulting from Fumai’s live performances—will investigate the role of the (artist’s) body and voice. Fumai considered her practice as a spiritual medium to be a manifestation of female authority, a conviction that tied in with her readings of Helena Blavatsky (1831- 1891), the Russian philosopher and founder of the Theosophical Society, and Eusapia Palladino (1854-1918), an Italian Spiritualist and physical medium.
This exhibition of Chiara Fumai’s work at La Loge not only revisits a period in the artist’s life which she spent living and working in Brussels (2013-2014), it is also a tribute to the relationships she developed within the Belgian scene, and an exploration of the parallels that can be drawn between her practice and La Loge’s history and architecture. Indeed, the building was commissioned by the masonic order of the “Droit humain”, the first Freemasonry obedience to welcome both female and male members, founded in 1912. Such diversity was a rare occurrence yet a fundamental aspect shared with the Theosophical Society that so greatly inspired and influenced Chiara Fumai. It is also noteworthy that Fumai had studied architecture before dedicating herself to her artistic practice, an interest that continued to permeate her works throughout her career.
A first major monograph of Chiara Fumai’s work accompanies the retrospective. The volume, published by Nero Editions and edited by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, Milovan Farronato and Andrea Bellini, includes essays by Irene Aristizabal, Andrea Bellini, Federico Campagna, Milovan Farronato, Gabriel Lester and Raimundas Malašauskas, Chus Martinez, Mara Montanaro, Cristiana Perrella and Marcello Bellan, Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, and Giovanna Zapperi.
The exhibition and publication Poems I Will Never Release is coproduced by Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève and Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, in partnership with La Casa Encendida, La Loge and The Church of Chiara Fumai.
The project is supported by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities under the Italian Council program.
The project at La Loge is supported by the Kira A. Princess of Prussia Foundation.