In 1971, for her debut exhibition at Studio Oggeto in Caserta, Italy, Bianca Pucciarelli Menna displayed her visual poetry under the male pseudonym of Tomaso Binga, proclaiming, “The artist is not a man nor a woman, but a PERSON.” Since that time, Binga has focused her practice on the deconstruction of gender and patriarchal codes, advocating for an understanding of the body as a place to inhabit, a material to shape, to decode culturally and socially.
The exhibition “I write with my own wrist” surveys some of Binga’s enduring engagements with written language as a means to subvert dominant hierarchies. For Alfabeto Tautologico/A–Z (Tautological Alphabet/A–Z, 2020), the artist repurposed a series of cardboard posters, presenting the twenty-one letters of the Italian alphabet, one to a card, in both upper and lower case, cursive and print. At the center of each image is an object whose name begins with the selected letter. Binga complemented this by collaging in words that share an initial letter, muddying the meaning. For instance, for the letter U, Binga pairs the image of a grape (uva) with her own additions, unica (unique), unione (union), and universale (universal). Within the photographic collages Alfabeto Officinale êA–Z (Medicinal Alphabet êA–Z, 1980–83), the artist reproduces the format of the school primer, this time emulating the shape of the letters with her naked body. As a final touch, she displays the prints alongside small bowls containing medicinal herbs whose names start with the given letter. In Alpha Symbol, 2021, Binga taps into the aesthetic power of linguistic symbols—the round bracket, the exclamation point—that, when infinitely repeated, lose significance, transforming into pure graphemes.
The exhibition complements these semiotic experiments with documentation of performances and interviews with the artist, as well as a stimulating recent interpretation of Binga’s 1976 poem “Io sono una carta!”(I Am a Card!).
Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.
— Marta Silvi