The term ‘Feminism” may raise hackles now but this in itself should sound a warning note. The rise of the populist right threatens the erosion of all our civil liberties and it may not be unduly pessimistic to anticipate that women may bear the brunt. We have had the recent example of the number of women MPs who have chosen to step down in the face of repeated abuse,
I have decided to talk only about the work of Silvia Giambrone. What we notice immediately is her recurring use of thorns from the acacia tree, which are especially vicious. We are aware that they could cause real damage to our flesh but they are also beautiful. In one piece she encases branches of these thorns in an ungainly body bag shape, which she then lays across two chairs. In another piece she presses thorns into the wax which coats the surface of an adapted mirror. The wax is milky and reminds us of white flesh.
Allusions to suffering have been made for years by women artists and it seems likely that this will continue in the world today. But Giambrone’s mixture of anthropomorphic references and real thorns is her own and it works.
Feminism in Italian Contemporary Art. Two Case Histories: Silvia Giambrone and Marinella Senatore. This show has been curated by Paola Ugolini and is at the Richard Saltoun Gallery, 41 Dover Street, London W1S 4NS until 9 November