Biografia Plurale

Virginia Ryan: Art, Africa and Elsewhere/ Arte,Africa e Altrove

 Euro 20,00

Editor: Fabrizio Fabbri Editore
ISBN: 978-88-6778-112-6

Pagine/Pages : 200, ill. 33 in black-and-white Size: cm. 17x24

Bilingual italian/English ,edited by Maurizio Coccia and Ivan Bargna

With texts by Ivan Bargna, Steven Feld, Osei Bonsu, Manuela de Leonardis, afterword by Silvano Manganaro:

''During the exhibition presenting works by Virginia Ryan from Ghana and Ivory Coast entitled  Biografia Plurale in the Spring of 2016, at Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary in Trevi, the artist and  curators Ivan Bargna and Maurizio Coccia began thinking about a following publication unlike a standard art catalogue: something akin to an actual book, even at the risk of renouncing particular images of the exhibited works from that very exhibition.

Virginia Ryan’s experience in West africa required a different narrative system and  it seemed fundamental to make this point, open a conversation; to  make explicit how the creative process of those years was a mine of possibilities and stimuli not only at a visual level but also enabling thinking around the great questions of the contemporary , around anthropology and art criticism.

So not by chance the book’s pages require to be leafed like a novel, even in the specificity and  scientific nature of the diverse texts: a novel concerning Virginia Ryan and her work. The basic concept is to follow the human and artistic adventure through a polyphony of voices, with new texts by the curators from the exhibition at Palazzo Lucarini meeting significant characters who had previously marked the artist’s life and art.

Specifically the text by the British-Ghanaian writer and curator Osei Bonsu, resident in London and Paris, first accompanied Ryan’s exhibition I Will Shield You (May -June 2016) at Montoro12 Gallery in Rome ( with texts also by Ursula Hawlitschka and Achille Bonito Oliva). Republishing here contextualises the work by a writer who is  knowledgeable and committed also to  the valorisation of art from Africa; his text corroborates the words of the artist herself in a recent interview: that her relationship with contemporary Africa is neither colonialist nor post-colonialist. 

In Ryan’s oeuvre there is no room for rhetoric, folklore, nor exoticism regarding the land which hosted her for more than fifteen years; rather one encounters authentic interest and human participation. 

This is evidenced in the text by independent curator and journalist Manuela De Leonardis, who retakes and amplifies a series of reflections written after their time together in Abidjan in 2012, allowing us to glimpse into Ryan’s life in Ivory Coast in the dual role of passionate artist and cultural animator. 

Lastly the lengthy conversation with fellow traveller, the anthropologist-ethnomusicologist Steven Feld with whom she began collaborating more than ten years ago, gives voice directly to Virginia Ryan. In perfect  tune with her interlocutor, the words reveal that characterising both artists and anthropologists is a curiosity for the world, for the other and, at the base, for the preservation of memory. 

These three documents enable us to reread from a new viewpoint also the initial essays by Maurizio Coccia and Ivan Bargna. Coccia shows us how it is important to contextualise the work of Virginia Ryan within contemporary critical debate, starting with key words such as institutional critique, post-colonial theory, object trouvé, archive, series, participatory art etc.

Bargna emphasises the importance,within Ryan’s artistic development, of the close connection with her personal biography and life experiences which become, through artistic creation, other than self - an instrument for exploring the world which becomes choral and universal.

Thus, if the theme is memory and its traces (like those objects found at sea, the film posters and photographs etc) then also this publication becomes both witness and memory of an artistic and personal voyage, a travel book which does not evoke past experience but becomes, rather, a stepping-stone for the future''.

Silvano Manganaro 2018

Share this by email
Enter your search terms below.