Anna Maria Maiolino
Anna Maria Maiolino, Untitled, from the Scarification Project series, 2018, permanent pen on paper, Edition: single, 50 x 78 cm

“I have always referred to my language as 'my alphabet'”, says Anna Maria Maiolino, 76 years old, during a conversation at Galeria Luisa Strina, where the exhibition ran until March 23rd. The artist has also just opened an exhibition at Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, in Milan. In September, Anna will have a major exhibition at the Whitechapell gallery in London, organized in partnership with the Italian institution. Recently, the artist had an exhibition on display at MOCA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles.

It's been quite a year for the artist, who claims to be working on the book Meu Alfabeto, by Bulgarian philosopher Julia Kristeva. The book had been recommended by a friend in the late 90s, but only now has Anna been able to enjoy the pages. “I really like reading philosophy, because it is a form of food for the imagination. In this case, my imagination”, Anna declares. Surrounded by lines and polka dots, signs  striking in her work, echo a passage from the book, Kristeva: “Printed on me, the alphabet triumphs; everything around me is alphabet”.

The lines and dots, whether in India ink, pen or structural cement; the performance eggs interviews or in the cloth band that covers the body in In ATTO, are elements that for her represent “the first breath of the idea that connects her with the world”, especially when in drawing, which she calls “the first manifestation of Anna”. It's a kind of alphabet that doesn't need the code in a word, it's a ante-word, something that precedes the word.

It is always important to point out the migratory issues in the artist's life and realize how important the elements of her work became for her communication with the other, considering that for some time she felt the need to belong to a place, and the language is part of it. After all, Anna left Calabria for Venezuela and then Brazil, but she has also resided in other places over the years, such as Argentina and the United States. Despite the differences in languages, her language in art was and is universal. Therefore, her alphabet is universal.

At another point in Kristeva's book, the author reflects: “The alphabet revived in me, for me, that I could be all the letters”. Identifying her language as her alphabet, it is certain that the letters that make up Maiolino's alphabet today are intrinsic to her, who never worried about remaining static and was not afraid, for example, of moving away from figuration. in the 70s. The process of art, for her, was always something to build and also to deconstruct, which she calls in an interview for a book Anna Maria Maiolino (Cosac Naify, 2012) of “an active state of transformative meditation”.

It is in this way that Maiolino's alphabet becomes plural and infinite, as it still wants to develop and explore paths. For that, you want to rest a little and think about other things: “Obviously you don't forget in your memory what you did before, because it's all inside you. The artist is a product of various stratifications of culture. So, you don't escape that thick memory of yours, inside you and everything that has already been done”.

For a brief break that allows her new perspectives, the artist has been thinking about not holding any more retrospectives for the time being. In addition, she thinks about keeping a regular distance between the individual exhibitions she does in galleries that represent her: “I want to have fun experimenting. Seeing what this new 76-year-old Anna is.”

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