In this talk, Rossella Biscotti interweaves thoughts and methodological considerations on some recent works that engage collective voices and female figures. She will present the research process that led to the making of Surati (2019), a work inspired by a character in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s tetralogy Buru Quartet (1980-88) who contracts smallpox voluntarily in her efforts to escape subjection as a concubine under Dutch colonialism, and Clara (2016), a work related to the eponymous female Indian rhinoceros imported to Europe by a captain of the Dutch East India Company in the 18th century. Finally, she will touch upon I dreamt that you changed into a cat (2013), a complex audio and sculptural work created through a one-year long “oneiric laboratory” with the female inmates of Venice’s women prison during which night dreams were shared and vegetable organic waste was turned into a compost installation.
The cross-media practice of Rossella Biscotti (b. 1978, Italy/Belgium/Netherlands) cuts across sculpture, performance, sound works, and filmmaking. Stemming from extended research processes, conceptual excavations, personal encounters, interdisciplinary collaborations, and the subtle interrogation of sites and stories, her works encapsulate meticulous stratifications of materials and meanings. She has taken part in major international exhibitions such as Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2020); 55th Venice Biennale, Italy (2013); 13th Istanbul Biennale, Turkey (2013); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany (2012), and Manifesta 9, Belgium (2012). Recent solo exhibitions were held at Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2019); Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz, Switzerland (2018), and V–A–C Foundation, Moscow, Russia (2016). Biscotti received several awards including ACACIA Prize for Contemporary Art (2017) and Mies van der Rohe Stipendium (2013).
Image: Rosella Biscotti, Surati, 2019, natural rubber, detail. Rossella Biscotti, new work (2019), Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam. Photo by Kristien Daem. Courtesy the artist.