Benedetta Chiari

Soffio al ricordo, 2021

Archival print on Hahnemühle paper, 50 × 18,13 cm

The project is related to the concept of abandonment and remembrance around the city of Fucecchio. Marc Augé, in his book Ruins and Rubble. The Sense of Time (2004), speaks of the spectacle of ruin as a trigger for a feeling of estrangement, and often of strange familiarity. The landscape of ruins does not reproduce any past in its entirety, but alludes to a multiplicity of pasts and gives nature a temporal sign: nature, which reappropriates these places, ends up destabilizing their history, drawing them towards timelessness. The ruins go back to being stone, losing the luster imposed by man, and the resulting landscape formally has the appearance of a memory. Today, the reorganization of the territory and the expansion of the urban fabric eliminate the recesses of a more fragmented and intimate landscape, and human beings need these landscapes to find that memory which, due to the acceleration in contemporary society, is losing its foundations. Today buildings are no longer built to age in the logic of the eternal present and these reconstructions and replacements eliminate the past. A temporal relationship was established between Benedetta Chiari and the artwork, a journey as an epiphany of a memento mori. In this journey, she collected natural elements from these landscapes that subsequently underwent a process of combustion. Once burned, these still lifes maintain for a few moments a very fragile compact form, a form that refers to the precariousness of our inner awareness within the current daily frenzy. From the ashes she took the lignite to trace a sign, a thought devoted to these places. Even the sign, with time, will lose consistency and body, leaving a faint trace on the surface.

Map of Fucecchio and its surroundings

Soffio al ricordo, 2021

Video, color, sound, 10’16”

Archival prints on Hahnemühle paper, each 50 × 18,13 cm; lignite on Rosaspina paper, each 50 x 30 cm

Lignite on Rosaspina paper, each 50 x 30 cm

Memorie di cenere, 2021

Video, color, sound, 1’35”

Download the full map here

Interview

In our view, talking about perennial topicality means talking about our perception of time, history, and human interactions. As we considered this project a collective debate, we’d like to hear more about your ideas as well. What is your perception of perennial topicality? And which element of this idea do you think that the artwork that you presented wants to portray?

My idea of perennial topicality is linked to a slowing down of thought and, consequently, of time. The project wants to get out of the frenzy of everyday life in order to find an image that is sometimes unknown, sometimes familiar. They are visions of common experience that escape us, landscapes in slow decay that in this research are converted into the role of protagonists. In repetitively retracing the roads that connect these structures, I have established a dialogue with the city in which I live that goes beyond the usual vision. I have reconstructed an interior landscape that reflects my experience of the contemporary, in search of a slow and distant time.

We are all the sum of our experiences, which shape our personality and perception. How did your personal history affect the creation of your artworks and in what way did you bring it into your project? 

I am very attached to Fucecchio, I have lived here forever. But despite this, I felt I didn’t know it well enough. Lately I’ve been looking for stories that can tell the story of the town from different points of view; these buildings have told me so much, about Fucecchio and about myself.

Due to the centrality of technology as well as the redefinition of our personal space, in these pandemic times the intimacy and the lack of it are now not only lived but conceived differently. How would you describe your perception of intimacy, relationships, and connection today?

From my perspective many bonds were weakened in this situation, others certainly strengthened. The amount of time we had with ourselves increased exponentially, and this was one of the hardest trials to face. The hustle and bustle of everyday life had caused us to drift away from ourselves; we no longer had time to look inward. Suddenly finding ourselves having to come to terms with who we are has upset the way we relate to ourselves and others. This different conception of intimacy is not so much due, in my opinion, to the technology that pervades our days, but rather to a direct confrontation with a reflection that we have not had for a long time.

What do you expect from the audience’s experience after viewing your work in this digital environment? How do you think that our endless consumption of digital contents is affecting the production and the fruition of artworks? Do you think the virtual exhibition experience will continue to be a possible tool for presenting your research?

People who will see this work will have a map in pdf format that can be used to physically visit these places. The goal is to recreate a path of enhancement of this “path” that can return a vision of the memory of this city. A memory that we are continuously losing. I think that it is not enough to enjoy works of art via the web, even if today’s situation makes us dependent on an ever faster consumption of content. In fact, it seems more convenient, in terms of time, to be able to consult multiple sites, comfortably from our couch or wherever we are, but I don’t think this is completely sufficient for the role of art. Certainly, we are moving in this direction, and the pandemic has reinforced this idea and triggered it within our habits. In my opinion, we should all take a step back and start physically visiting exhibitions again, in fact, get away from this hurry, to find our own time. By now, the phrase that characterizes today’s lives is precisely “I don’t have time”.

Bio

Benedetta Chiari (born 1998, San Miniato, Italy). She has always been linked to drawing and everything that involves manual skills. She attended the Liceo Scientifico G. Marconi of San Miniato, abandoning for a short period the drawing and the artistic dedication. She rediscovered this passion in her fourth year of high school, when she decided to continue her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence where she obtained her first three-year degree in the course of Decoration. Currently his research continues at the two-year course of Visual Arts New Expressive Languages, school of Decoration. The preferred techniques are ceramics, mixed media of recycled materials and painting. Experimental researches range between aesthetic and scientific relationship and are constantly evolving thanks to the introduction of new materials that are linked to the concept of Surface. Each project aims to find an origin, a different relationship with the material that in the work is transformed to take on another meaning. The privileged materials of investigation are those daily, which are internalized by each of us integrating with our person. The surface, in addition to soliciting the organs of sight, also affects the touch. In fact, the latest works are designed in relation to the viewer who enters as a protagonist within the work leaving traces of his passage.