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À la carte - Dora Perini art exhibition for Des Bains (London) in Milan during Miart 2021.

In À la Carte, Dora Perini’s work is taken as a menu whose courses trouble common perception of corporality and spatiality. The “Fat Lady” rises as the alter-ego of the artist herself, attempting intrusion and subversion of the status quo. This body is a-sexual and genderless, they assume feminine traits as a metaphor of the sensibility that they embody. The fat lady religiously fills the space, sometimes becoming the space that hosts other bodies, other times they are bodily organs with a life of their own. It takes up space, while becoming the space - a space apart. It can just be in space, over or beyond it. A cut becomes the bursting point of a limited dimension, enabling an interchange. By causing trauma, it ignites a new opportunity for healing. It is a loop system that shows how healing and aggravation are closely intertwined conditions for life and evolution. “The first cut is the deepest” as lamented by P.P. Arnold in her famous EP written by Cat Stevens, also reminded by Tai Shani in Our Fatal Magic. “It is an evolutionary spiral in which I break and bind with new fabric to arrive at a progressed stage”, states Perini.

The body often becomes a product of experiences in and of the world. It inhabits the world and the world shapes it. Depending on which perspective it is adopted from, it is a process of becoming but also of unbecoming. It is the beginning of a Deleuzian eternal return of the different, which becomes visible and tangible in every piece of Perini’s practice. Sometimes the body is individual - segmented, other times it is connected to others, dynamic in generating interconnections, always shifting the perception of itself and the rest of the space.

How might a body be organised in relation to others? What does it mean to have or be a body or be in a body? What became the feminine body, the Fat Lady, is seen here as the material representation of an ongoing process of trauma. The hole, the trauma, enables the movement between antipodes, the escape from a preconception of what a body is - feminine and not necessarily feminist. As Johanna Hedva preaches in the Sick Woman Theory, the Fat Lady seems to lament: “I don’t have enough space here - will I ever?”. The trauma, for Perini, is a site of constant production, a semantic subverter that rewrites any definition. The Fat Lady is a moldable and moulded material, a feeler of the artist’s living experience, a litmus paper of her traumas through which she shows and wishes to exorcise them to heal and evolve into a new state, also facing the possibility of not doing and not being.

Nudity comes in the game as a ritual of re-appropriation of existential space, physically and metaphorically. In the complex semantic-lexical system that the artist’s practice creates, femininity is seen as a representation of a sensibility, a uterine approach which welcomes the multiplicity of the diverse without necessarily taking sides against masculinity. It is a work carried out for any minority. For all the other invisible bodies who have been violently shadowbanned, the Fat Lady is the Nemesis.

The Fat Lady stands for those who are unable to march - those who, for different reasons, can’t show up or have a voice, and who are therefore invisible. “To hold up a sign, to shout and question”, echoes Johanna Hedva: “how do you throw a brick through a window of a bank if you can’t get out of bed?”. 

Perini’s work ranges over a broad variety of mediums, in which every piece is connected to the other by the healing thread she sows through her themes. Questioning the food industry, its supply and production chain processes, and the ever-changing self within this post-human world, overflowing with peer-pressuring messages of all types - are we actually free of choosing our own “food”?

Artist: Dora Perini

Art Gallery: Des Bains

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