Milan, at the Ordet space the first Italian solo exhibition of Beatrice Gibson

Through Feb. 15, Milan's Ordet space hosts 'Dream Gossip,' the first Italian solo exhibition of French-British artist and filmmaker Beatrice Gibson: three films are presented that explore feeling, dreaming and intimacy as collective tools for a turbulent political present.

Opened Jan. 12, at the Ordet space in Milan, Dream Gossip, is the first solo exhibition in Italy by Franco-British artist Beatrice Gibson (London, 1978). The exhibition, which can be visited until Feb. 15, is the first of the events that present to the Italian public Dreaming Alcestis, the latest work by the award-winning artist and filmmaker, commissioned by the Museo Civico di Castelbuono in partnership with the Southbank Centre’sHayward Gallery Touring for British Art Show 9, and realized thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture’s Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity as part of theItalian Council (2021).

The exhibition takes its title from a dream column by poet Alice Notley in Scarlet, a New York poetry magazine of the 1990s, self-published by Notley and her late husband, poet Douglas Oliver, in their apartment in St Mark’s Place. Dream Gossip collected the outrageous dreams of the poetic community, and their appearance alongside articles, poems and editorials on theAIDS crisis and the Gulf War attest to Notley’s deep belief in the political power of feeling and dreaming.

The three films in the exhibition Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs (2019), Dreaming Alcestis (2022) and Dear Barbara, Bette and Nina (2020) explore feeling, dreaming and intimacy as collective tools for a turbulent political present. Based on an original screenplay by Gertrude Stein, Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs features two sisters (who are not sisters), two pregnancies, a two-seater car, a beauty queen, two poodles, and the election of a fascist. The film begins on a dreamlike note: a ghost-like woman stares fleetingly at the camera, her silver hair tossed in the breeze. The woman is Notley herself, whose pioneering poetry about motherhood, the everyday, dreams and the unconscious is a constant presence in Gibson’s recent work.

Beatrice Gibson’s films are known to be deeply evocative, weaving relationships off and on the screen. Deux Soeurs, for example, features not only intellectual and artistic godmothers such as Notley and Stein, but also contemporary figures and friendships that have inspired and made possible the artist’s working life, such as filmmakers Ana Vaz and Basma Alsharif, artistAdam Christensen, and Diocouda Diaoune, Gibson’s son’s first babysitter.

On a formal level, Deux Soeurs eschews conventional narrative in favor of dreamlike, associative editing. The film’s characters do not speak as much as they vibrate and pulse emotionally, following the pulse of existence. Stein’s elliptical script becomes the stimulus for personal explorations of concepts such as legacy, responsibility, ethics and the future. This interest of Gibson’s in the politics of feeling or emotion, of movement and emotional impact, also infuses the second work in the exhibition, Dreaming Alcestis. The film, co-directed with partner Nick Gordon and co-written with Maria Nadotti, further pushes the dreamlike character of his work, exploring feeling in its pure state. Presented as an immersive installation, Dreaming Alcestis is a deeply experimental work, the artist’s least cerebral or perhaps most somatic. Two characters, collectively dreaming of a long-dead queen (or perhaps being dreamed by her), are filmed in long sequences, as if in real time, holographically refracted, infused and interrupted by the sounds of the city and the sea.

A poetic reflection on living and dying in an age of calamity and migration, Dreaming Alcestis delves deep into Euripides ’ ancient protagonist as an ancestral guide, documenting through dreamlike dimension Gibson and Gordon’s relocation from post-Brexit Britain to Palermo, at a time of brutal political and social rearrangement.

A third and final film completes the exhibition. Also shot in Palermo in the early 2020s, Dear Barbara, Bette and Nina is a missive to Barbara Loden, Nina Menkes and Bette Gordon, three filmmakers who have profoundly influenced Gibson’s work. The film draws a line through a series of intellectual godmothers, contemporaries and friends, citing these figures as inspiration, postulating a collective politics of rejection.

Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs was commissioned by Mercer Union, Toronto; Bergen Kunsthall, Borealis Festival, Bergen; Camden Arts Centre, London; and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. The work is produced with support from Fluxus Art Projects and Arts Council England, and features a commissioned score by Laurence Crane with support from Arts Council Norway.

Dreaming Alcestis is commissioned by the Museo Civico di Castelbuono (Palermo, Italy ) and the Hayward Gallery Touring at the Southbank Centre (London) for British Art Show 9 and is produced with the support of the Italian Council (10th Edition 2021), a program for the international promotion of Italian art of the Ministry of Culture’s Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity. The film is produced by Okta Film, with support from sponsors ICONOCLAST and Somesuch. The Dream Gossip exhibition is part of the Alkestis project, promoted by the Museo Civico di Castelbuono, winner of the 10th Italian Council 2021. Dear Barbara, Bette and Nina was commissioned by Punto de Vista - International Documentary Film Festival of Navarra.

Born in London in 1978 and living in Palermo, Beatrice Gibson is an artist and filmmaker. Her works, experimental short films that combine video and poetry, have been selected in many festivals around the world, including Cannes, Toronto, London, New York and Oberhausen. She has twice won the best short film award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2009 and 2013. She was twice nominated for the Jarman Award for Artist’s Film in 2013 and 2019. Nel won the Baloise Art Prize from Art Basel in 2015 and the Marian McMahon Akimbo Prize for Autobiography in 2019. He recently had solo exhibitions at Camden Art Centre in London (2019), Bergen Kunsthall (2019), Mercer Union in Toronto (2019), and KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2018).

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Milan, at the Ordet space the first Italian solo exhibition of Beatrice Gibson
Milan, at the Ordet space the first Italian solo exhibition of Beatrice Gibson

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