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Marina Sagona: Stabat Mater

Chiquita Gallery, C. de Villarroel, 25, 08011, Barcelona, Spain. Wednesday, November 15, 2023 - Saturday, December 23, 2023 Curated by Sophia Ma

In a world where women are still told to stay at home and to look a certain way, Marina Sagona’s works in “Stabat Mater” offer an assertive stand that grew out of a great personal effort to change this ongoing status quo. The artist addresses her enmeshment and detachment from her ex-husband, Bernardo Siciliano, the Italian landscape and portrait painter, and their daughter, Anna Siciliano, who is now in college. The three works in the show are Stabat Mater (2021), the work from which the exhibition draws its title, Obliterations (2022), and LEICA D-LUX (2023). The centerpiece of the exhibition, Stabat Mater confronts the topics of motherhood, separation, and loss. The film has been included in more than twenty film festivals around the world. Sagona zooms in on Bernardo’s nude painting of her. The 18-second clip captures an exchange between Bernardo and Anna, where he asks Anna in Italian: “Did you see Mom? Do you like the painting of Mom?” Anna, who was about three years old at the time, answers, “Yes but - why did you throw them away?” She loops the recording fifteen times. While both the audio and the translated exchange, superimposed on the painting, diminish, the first movement of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (1734) grows and amplifies. Present to her rejection, Sagona reduces the hold of those closest to her and their ability to subject her to personal pain in Stabat Mater. The poignant music demonstrates how she regains control over her narrative. No longer the subject or the object, Sagona freed her image and herself from the darkness of rejection and gave her agency.Sagona uses stills from Stabat Mater to create the nine prints of Obliterations. She “whites out” the exchange between Bernardo and Anna, which recalls the statements and transforms them into new forms at the same time. Sagona processes the objectification and rejection of her and her body further in these prints. She reclaims her power with her direct gaze upon her audience, as they too reassess the possible identities imposed upon them. The Leica D-Lux consists of the camera encased and sealed in time by Sagona into an artwork. She removes its functionality as a camera and turns it into an object to be observed. The famed Italian film director and screenwriter and Bernardo’s godfather, Bernardo Bertolucci, gave him the camera in 2004 as a present. At the time, Bernardo was not very interested in the camera, so he gave it to Sagona. She enjoyed the raw grainy texture of the Leica and shot many shorts with it for three years including Stabat Mater. On display as the beginnings of Sagona finding her voice, Leica D-Lux is not-for-sale. It represents the much-needed turning point in her life.“Stabat Mater” explores Sagona’s relationship dynamics as a reflection of her ever-changing well-being as a process of understanding and letting go of the past’s impact on her psyche. Stabat Mater relates to every woman’s ability to step out of the shadow of societal and familial constrictions. Obliterations re-affirms that particular potent capacity and Leica D-Lux asks what it would take in each person. The freedom to discover herself is an invitation Sagona proposes to everyone experiencing her work.

Stabat Mater has won the Sunworld International Film Festival Award, Sipontum Arthouse International Film Festival Best Experimental Award, Ribalta Experimental Film Festival Best Script/Concept Award, and Cadence Video Poetry Festival Award.