Museo del Novecento and Fondazione Furla present Libyan-Italian artist Adelita Husni-Bey, who for the third event of Furla Series #01 – Time after Time, Space after Space will stage Frangente/Breaker, a three-act performance that unfolds both inside and outside the museum galleries.
Power dynamics, human relationships, and education are themes central to the work of Adelita Husni-Bey, which ranges through different media and often draws on cross-disciplinary collaboration. Taking a participatory approach to performance, the artist organizes complex workshop situations that explore the relationship between the individual and collective spheres.
Frangente/Breaker is a performance in three acts that combines a site-specific project with a performative reinterpretation of a sound work from 2013 and a public action from 2011, brought together as a single reflection on authorship, on barriers, borders, and nationalism, and on the perception of otherness.
The first act is a performance that brings visitors into interaction with the museum’s permanent collection. Inspired by the Theater of the Oppressed, Cementoarmato (2018) invites visitors to observe a selection of the works on view, engaging them in a pedagogical exercise in vision, perception, and imagination.
The second act, Sull’Esilio (2018), is an investigation of the ideas of homeland, rootedness, and labor. Based on a sound installation that Husni-Bey made in 2013, the performance involves several residents of a center for asylum seekers at the former barracks Montello in Milan: three pairs of people, each made up of an Italian teacher and a newly-arrived migrant, will read a series of texts written by exiles. This reading will call attention to the relationship between the teacher, who represents the “host” country, and the “exiled” person who needs assistance with the task. The authors of these texts include historical figures like Ovid, Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim, and anarchist activist Emma Goldman, spanning different places and eras.
The third and last act, Action for a Sandbag Brigade (2011), is inspired by the image of constructing dikes; two groups of performers struggle to create a protective barrier, but in the attempt to build their own wall by borrowing from the other one, they set a potentially infinite cycle in motion that dooms both to failure.
Frangente/Breaker is informed in part by the essay Reflections on Exile (2002) in which Edward W. Said says that that “between the nationalism and the ‘other’ is banishment—the outside, where those unwelcome were banished to be forgotten. It is the perilous territory of non-belonging.” Bearing a title with multiple meanings—a wave, and its length; a barrier, and a difficult juncture or risky circumstance—the performance is an exploration of the social and political dynamics governing our relationship with the “other,” an invitation to reflect on the concepts of nation, community, and displacement within the complex landscape of contemporary life.