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Viafarini, Milan, (2017)

Photos courtesy of: Caterina Ragg, Roberto Casti, Sabrina Bellinzier

'HOPE YOU STILL LIKE ME - IF YOU HATE ME' is a performative intervention as part of the durational performative instalment curated by Ilaria Zanella: ‘Like a faint line at the center of our foreheads’.

 The event was mostly founded on the spontaneous overlapping between the actions designed by the three artists Monstera Deliciosa, Gabriele Longega and Giorgia de Santi, each tapping into similar agendas concerning LGBTQ issues.

'HOPE YOU STILL LIKE ME -IF YOU HATE ME' combined elements of cabaret along with video and performance to deliver a satiric onslaught against the heteronormative regime still currently predominant in Italy, where all the three artists are from. The performance revolved around the actions, lyrics, gestures and struggles of hyperbolic genderless character Monstera Deliciosa, the comedic yet tormented fictional persona who persistently interrupted the flow of the fellow artists’ durational actions. All her appearances (Monstera cannot but be referred to as a She in order to defy the inherent misogyny of Italian language) were sudden and clumsily timed, yet rigidly constructed in a tight crescendo. In her pre-show action, Monstera is seen standing on a stool looking straight into the eyes of the spectators while Giorgia goes about shredding her silk nighty, with gentle yet decided motions. She then proceeds to lather herself up with a male deo-stick proclaiming the chemical-filled beauty item the ultimate signifier of toxic masculinity. She runs off stage. She is then cued back on stage by the tyrannical video flashes of excerpts from a Youtube channel by a famous Italian trash-tv queen, who dispenses highly misogynistic beauty and sex advice in the name of (straight, white) women’s empowerment. But Monstera cannot compete with the picture-perfect starlette and keeps failing to apply her lipstick on time to become a real woman at the tv-star’s command. Throughout her race to perfection, she jollily whips herself to the rhymes of an unsettling tongue-twister scripted on the declination of the Italian gender pronouns. She compulsively digs through and tries on the underwear left on the floor by the spectators, desperately trying to fit in but constantly wounding up sectioning and humiliating her body. She offers a tray full of dolls and teases the audience to play dress up, denouncing aesthetic, sexual and gender stereotypes amongst the laughing spectators. Naked, with a polaroid camera, she voyeurs on the spectators who are watching the other artists, commodifying their body by taking close-up pictures of their most intimate parts (genitalia, inside of nose, ears, etc). After her relentless battle with the totalising tv goddess (and a flashing video appearance from Marina Abramovic) she abdicates the competition and starts adorning herself with slices of ham while pinning the polaroid printouts through her flesh, with the helping hands of some compassionate attendees. Upon her last appearance, she joins forces with Giorgia sacrificing the leftover of a doll to Georgia’s relentless use of a fire-spitting drill.  She then starts singing victoriously the famous Italian song ‘Non sono una Signora’ (no, don’t call me Lady) and marches outside of the gallery space.

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