Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch is pleased to present "Not I", the first solo show in Rome of the New York-based artist Ofri Cnaani. The title is inspired by the monologue of the same name written by Samuel Beckett in 1972; a short, dramatic and uncontrollable torrent of words hovering between pain and pleasure, sensuality and transcendence, between the inner and outer self.
“She was not suffering … imagine! … not suffering! … indeed could not remember … off-hand … when she had suffered less … unless of course she was … meant to be suffering … ha! … thought to be suffering… just as the odd time … in her life … when clearly intended to be having pleasure.” (Beckett, Not I, 1973).
Indeed, ecstasy is the focus of Ofri Cnaani's artistic research; her idea is to go beyond one’s own body to enter into a state of beatitude and estrangement. By assembling an anthology of images and texts from different cultures and social settings, Cnaani brings together stories of extracorporeal experiences of historical personages from different social groups, places and varying between the mystical, sexual, psychoanalytical or artistic.
On show is an environmental installation composed of home-made projectors and light machines which create a world of shadows and bizarrely-moving elements in a magically proto-mechanical atmosphere. In contrast to classical cinema, the sculptural elements of the installation never try to hide the mechanics used to produce the images. Indeed, the artist gives the same importance to the projector as to the projected images in an attempt to explore the tension between reality, illusion and the process of showing. With allusions to art history and early cinema, the images present situations which hover between the playful and the violent while highlighting the underlying relationship between power and the gender through history up to the contemporary period.
A performance will be held on the inaugural evening which will be an integral part of the exhibition. Ofri Cnaani has invited women from different professional backgrounds to visit the exhibition, to give their own impressions of the installation and to tell their personal experiences of ecstasy and its relevance in contemporary society. Always looking for new ways to communicate to the public, Cnaani uses the “guided tour” as her starting point to create dialogue, taking advantage of a social event such as an opening to stimulate debate and cultural exchange. The different interpretations of the work told through the viewers’ own words generate a rather discordant narrative which hovers between fiction and reality.
In a world in which more and more people feel disinherited from life and are unable to feel emotions, ecstasy is a means to live an all-encompassing experience which is both mental and physical at the same time. "Not I" therefore aims to create the conditions for an interactive journey which obliges the participant to reflect on how a high emotional level can be reached in today's society.