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Fabio Mauri

October 1971, Venice. Fabio Mauri (1926 – 2009) presents for the first time a performance that would become one of his major works: Ebrea. Realized for a solo show curated by Furio Colombo and Renato Barilli at the Barozzi Gallery (Venice), Ebrea is a radical performance, in which the element of evil is investigated in its continuity and, for the first time, in its heritage.

The performance developes within an installation consisting of a series of everyday objects: tools, furniture, soaps, skis, horse finishes that Mauri produced through the immersion into the terrible Nazi industry that employed human parts of jewish deportees. As horrific relics, these manufacts become materializations of evil. In this evocative scenario, a girl, without clothes and with a Star of David on her chest, looks at herself in a mirror, on which slowly affixes her own cutted locks in order to create another Star of David.

The clear reference to the tragedy of Holocaust and to the Nazi concentration camps’ memory constitutes an important starting point for a calibrated and wider reflection. Mauri intends to investigate racism as a universal phenomenon, choosing as the supreme example the widespread antisemitism of the first half of the 20th Century. The artist, who was an adolescent in the 40’s, has been very impressed by this dramatic period.

“I feel Jew everytime I can and I suffer injust discrimination”.This is how the artist, even if he’s not Jew neither son of Jews, tells his closeness to the people which has become the symbol of hate’s consequencies. Mauri assumes the perspective of the ones who, looking at the mirror, are obliged to watch everyday the unreasonable reasons of their discrimination; and this is how the girl of Ebrea reflects on herself, with the symbol of her people that, from banner of pride, became a mark of shame.

The exhibition “Fabio Mauri. Opere dall’Apocalisse” presented by Viasaterna in collaboration with Studio Fabio Mauri and Hauser & Wirth, features a photograph of the original performance, shot by Elisabetta Catalano, a long-time partner (in work as much as in life) of the artist. The intense contrast of the black and white, and the silhouette of the girl that seems to emerge from the void, give to this photograph a unique and fundamental pathos and drama. Francesca Alfano Miglietti, curator of the exhibition, writes: “Author of a highly personal, lifelong investigation on the insidious logic of art, ideology and totalitarianism, Mauri explores History by filtering it through the lens of private sphere”. And“Mauri never recoils, but stands between the folds of a line that silently touches the forbidden”.

Even if fifty years have passed from the first enactment ofEbrea, it still current: racism and, more in general, discrimination are extremely alive themes in our society and, sadly, still used for political and propagandistic finalities. Here lies the greatness of an artist and the effectiveness of an artwork: in the ability to investigate ad the same time the past, the present and the future.

Alberto Villa

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