Arts Illustrated

July 4, 2020

Metaphors in Movements

BODIES ON STAGE, a strange but riveting virtual performance festival deals with the absurdity of the ‘norm’ and the shift of art to the virtual space during such a difficult time.

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Surrounded in an intense red light, an artist first walks by us fully clad in a biohazard suit. Alarm bells trill in the background. The artist walks by again with one leg in a cardboard box, and then it’s both his legs. He keeps getting covered by the boxes, and is weighed down by them. After several tumbles, he falls against a set of doors which he quickly gets behind and shuts.

David De Carolis, Granchio in scatola, for Bodies on Stage, 2020.

As nebulous and undefined as it is, that perhaps has always been the beauty of performance art. It never needs a frame or a setting. It is merely the moment an artist expels visceral emotions onto the physical space, making the seconds contained explosive. Such is the nature of BODIES ON STAGE, a virtual performance art festival where the representation of absurdity, makes us question our own perspective.

BODIES ON STAGE Teatro Linguaggicreativi Milan Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Simone Berti, Isemberga, for Bodies on Stage, 2020.

After selling out for two evenings at Teatro Linguaggicreativi in Milan in December 2019, BODIES ON STAGE – featuring a cordoned-off stage to draw attention to inaccessibility – has been visible online from the beginning of May on the virtual stage. The event curated by Andrea Contin has now taken another step forward and has entered the premises of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, a city that happens to be the European Capital of Culture during this tricky year. Set as a video art exhibition and providing an overview of this particularly difficult period in history, through the creativity of artists, BODIES ON STAGE offers over 30 short, vibrant performance art videos – all presenting solutions for both creating and enjoying art in a situation we have never experienced before.

BODIES ON STAGE Teatro Linguaggicreativi Milan Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Giusy Pirrotta, Rituale dell’alba – Rituale del crepuscolo, for Bodies on Stage, 2020.

The artists invited to take part were simply asked to talk about their experience of enforced isolation. They were asked to think of some kind of action, almost a performative aphorism, to be staged in the place where they were quarantined – either at home, in the garden, out in neighbouring fields, on the roof of their building or wherever they had access to during the lockdown – with no other constraints of either a technical, thematic or stylistic nature; simply an action to be performed with the means at their disposal. The resulting works have their own voice from inside, messages synchronic with this period of home confinement, but perfectly incorporated in the realms of experimentation of individual artists.

BODIES ON STAGE Teatro Linguaggicreativi Milan Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Michele Mariano, Non Ti Preoccupare, for Bodies on Stage, 2020.

Calling into question the very way in which art is viewed and assimilated, BODIES ON STAGE presents a host of innovative ideas and approaches. Most performances go on for about 3 to 6 minutes, each more vivid than the last and tense in terms of visual narrative. And just as we take in the diversity of perspective and imagery, we are filled with a sense of the unknown – mesmerised by how easily one could slip into character for a few moments to perform outside of their comfort zone; how even wit, humour and whimsy could capture the intensity of isolation; and how the efficiency of our coping mechanisms could be reduced to a box – be it a box of cake batter or the box of our homes where we sit quietly while the world continues to turn.

Sergio Breviario, Mr.Lateral – coming soon, for Bodies on Stage, 2020.


From 12th June-10th July 2020, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka (Croatia) presents CORPI SUL PALCO | PERFORMANCE DA CASA IN TEMPO DI QUARANTENA (BODIES ON STAGE | PERFORMANCES FROM HOME IN THE TIME OF QUARANTINE), curated by Andrea Contin in partnership with Teatro Linguaggicreativi, as part of the schedule of events for Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture. More information here.


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