Raffaella Crispino: We Want Mirrors – A Journey Into the Matrix of Coloniality
We Want Mirrors – A Journey into the Matrix of Coloniality is the first solo exhibition in Croatia by Raffaella Crispino. The exhibition departs from a retrospective gaze over the past 15 years of Raffaella Crispino’s artistic practice, focusing on the resignification of historical, social, and political contexts she researched. It is structured as a journey through which the artist acts as a witness to the traces of coloniality that still underlies the Western perspectives while bringing forward, in her work, counter-narratives of resistance and empowerment.
The idea of wanting mirrors echoes the famous quote by Polish science fiction writer Stanisław Lem from his book Solaris (transposed in the 1972 Tarkovsky film), which Crispino used for the neon work We Don’t Want Other Worlds, We Want Mirrors (2013). The title thus suggests the need for reflection, both in a literal and metaphorical sense, to expose the matrix of coloniality that operates in internalized relationships of patriarchal structures, racism, and forms of control rooted in the all-encompassing image of modernity. Through this perspective, Raffaella Crispino’s simple yet complex installations function as mirrors oriented on the situations, which she uses as the basis for repoliticization and exposure of difficult and traumatic events.
The exhibition brings together twelve works created in various media: installations, videos, photographs, textile prints, wallpaper, and text, showing the heterogeneous practice of the artist. Her interests travel around many topics that deal with the daily resurgence of violence and coloniality: such as the reproduction of colonial imagery inscribed in a popular French decorative pattern, as in the painting Untitled (Toile de Jouy) (2015); tracing a trade of mundane goods in the market, in Untitled (Fruits and Vegetables), and critically representing the issue of the ongoing femicide in Italy through the perspective of a beautician shop, with the installation Laura, Sarah, Yara, Meredith, Chiara, Melania, Deborah, Veronica, Roberta, Pamela, Marianna, Elisa, Eleonora, Rosaria, Charlotte, Stefania, Donatella (2019) and the video Una mia folle idea (2019). In Untitled (Samia II) (2015), Crispino connects the colonial legacy also to the dramatic realities of current migrations with a tribute to the Somali runner Samia Yusuf Omar who drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Among the most recent works: the video Il mutuo appoggio (Entraide) (2022), which presents a group of young women discussing the survival strategies peculiar to specific plants and the theory of ‘mutual aid’, inspired by the reading of Silvia Federici’s work. Their discussions evolve around discourses on the foundations of capitalism, feminism and agriculture, which also inspired the creation of Nous (2022), hand-printed silks that tell the story of how certain seeds and plants spread throughout Europe with the developments of railways. While the textile work Untitled (Time Zones) (2018) unravels the foundation of the time zones allowing an entry point in the way in which the fascination of travelling through time helped implement a grid of borders and privileges.
Punctuating the exhibition space, the work Our Audience is installed as wallpapers reproducing a series of photographic details that explores the Museum’s documentary archive and offers a collective portrait of anonymous audiences and exhibition openings. The artists summon the past visitors as a mirror of the beliefs that built our perspectives in the past, but also as a reminder of our active role in defining the current imagery.
Raffaella Crispino (1979, Naples) lives and works in Brussels. She took part in several artist-in-residence programs, among else, at CCA Kitakyushu (2008–2009), JCVA in Jerusalem (2010) and HISK in Ghent (2014–2015). She created a permanent land-art installation, as part of the Bat-Yam Biennale, Tel Aviv, in 2010. In 2009, she showed her work at CCA Tel Aviv, in collaboration with the Museo Madre in Naples. In 2018, Crispino’s work became part of the new collection of the KANAL Centre Pompidou in Brussels. The same year, she participated in the 6th Biennale of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. In 2022, she had solo exhibitions at the Tournai Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with EUROPALIA TRAINS & TRACKS.
The exhibition We Want Mirrors – A Journey into the Matrix of Coloniality is curated by Matteo Lucchetti and Branka Benčić.
The exhibition is made possible thanks to the support of the 10th edition of the Italian Council, Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity, Italian Ministry of Culture, and the City of Rijeka.
Exhibition opening: 11/11 at 7 PM
Exhibition preview. Photo: Damir Žižić