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The female voice of the Italian art in search of freedom during isolation

open-air exhibition on kulturtavlorna curated by Adriana Rispoli


Francesca Grilli

Loredana Longo

Marzia Migliora

Rosy Rox

Marinella Senatore


Language is a virus is an open-air exhibition curated by Adriana Rispoli for the Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm during the Covid19 emergency. As a response to the suspension of all the activities, art pursues its continuous dialogue with life by experimenting new expressive formats.

Italian Cultural Institute’s director Maria Sica states: ”We aim to convey an open communication with the Stockholm’s citizens and also to reach out to a new audience, in order to renew a dialogue between art and urban spaces. It is important to demonstrate that in this moment art is not an elite medium. Maybe this crisis can show us new patterns to reinvent the traditional dynamics of the relationship between art and public. However, we find this exercise very stimulating since it involves a city where art has been nourishing the public space for a long time”.

Language is a virus uses advertising posters as technique and Stockholm’s streets as exhibition space. Although Sweden decided not to adopt restrictions as in Italy, cultural places such as museums, galleries and theaters have been closed to the public. In this moment of forced isolation, the city offers a space for communication to five Italian female artists: Francesca Grilli, Loredana Longo, Marzia Migliora, Rosy Rox and Marinella Senatore.

Language is a virus is named after a performance-track song from 1986 by Laurie Anderson, who quoted William Burroughs’s words: ”the most dangerous virus was language”. The Institute’s ”exhibition” wants to point out both the liberating power of the verbal and visual language and its subversive ability to appropriate the poster as an artistic medium. The exhibition gets out of the ”white cube”, the elitist space assigned to art, which is the museum, and it reaches the public area. The purpose is to keep alive the necessary relationship between art and viewers and to stimulate a critical reflection on the difficult moment we are experiencing.

From May 25th to June 14th, kulturtavlorna – Swedish capital city billboards – becomes the exhibition supports, used by the artists to communicate their messages linked to their personal researches.

Francesca Grilli elaborates the results of her performance Sparks, carried out with a group of girls in Tallin during the Saal Biennaal. She investigated the reversal of the relationship between childhood and adulthood through the learning of palmistry. Can you transform the invisible into the visible? is an extremely pertinent questions asked by the young participants during the preparation of the performance and it is shown by a handprint, the symbolic surface for the future’s interpretation.

The Hope still Lives and the Dream shall never die is the quote chosen by Loredana Longo, who in the prolific Carpet project builds a bridge between East and West by embroidering populist phrases commonly pronounced by Western leaders on traditional oriental rugs. The carpet is the symbol of a domestic dimension and here it becomes the support for populist quotes that belong to a collective sphere. Here, the artist appropriates the power that language exerts on the crowd by quoting Ted Kennedy’s words Hope and Dream, which do not differ much from the ones used by politicians today.

Happy Days S.B. by Marzia Migliora is part of her large installation Lo spettro di Malthus, la gabbia, that is currently exhibited at the Serlachius Museums in Mänttä, Finland. The phrase Happy Days S.B. is a quote from Samuel Beckett’s play. The artist engraved it on the four sides of a salt’s block, that is commonly used as a food supplement in horse breeding. Horses consume the block by licking it, until it completely disappears. The work refers to an illusory and fleeting vision of happiness and wealth: in the past, salt was the first exchange and trade object among peoples. Happy Days can sarcastically be referred to these days of fear and confinement in Italy.

The performer Rosy Rox resorts to body language and its symbolic value by proposing one of her quarantined exercises. AGILE becomes the protest of an artist who normally bases her work on the relationship with the audience. In the solitude of her home, she finds an ironic outburst in the semantic game of the box and the word aiming to testify the woman’s and artist’s condition: FRAGILE.

Stay Woke by Marinella Senatore is a work from the collages’ series Can one led a good life in a bad life, made with materials collected during the participatory works of The School of Narrative Dance. She brings together images of movement and words that have been shared during the workshops. Stay Woke wants to encourage to resistance: the silhouette of a ”fighting” dancer with her solid roots in the nature stands out against a white background full of allegorical visual elements, such as the beehive and the flower that covers her face.


If you want to download the press release written by the exhibition’s curator Adriana rispoli, please click here

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Francesca Grilli (1978, Bologna; she lives in Bruxelles) is an Italian artist currently based in Bruxelles. Her research vibrates in two fields: visual art and performing art. She uses a multidisciplinary language where the performance flows between visual art spaces to performing festivals, with a special attention to sound in all its forms and registers. Grilli has developed several projects around the concept of the resistant body. In the earlier performative projects the body was engaged as a reflection of the resistance to life, to time, to decline, in spite of everything and for everything. In these last works, the resistant body gives in to or struggles against the concept of being consumed. Present in every artwork is in fact a disappearance, which is the result of an action contained in the work itself. She explores the realm of sound her works move from private and personal elements into spectators’ space of action, drawing them into an ambiguous and unsettling territory. Her work has been exhibited in many internationals venues such as Palais De Tokyo (2017), Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (2015-2017), Azione – Interazione at MAXXI Museum in Rome (2016), viceversa – Italian Pavillon at 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013), MADRE Museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina in Naples (2012), Serpentine Gallery, London (2010) and Manifesta7 in Bolzano (2008). She has also participated in numerous performance festivals including: Santarcangelo Festival (2017- 2019), Kunsthalle Osnabrueck, Germany (2017), O museu como performance at Serralves Foundation, PT (2017), Homo Novus Festival in Riga (2016), Drodesera Festival (2006/2017), Romaeuropa Festival (2011), Rencontres chorégraphiques in Paris (2010).

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Loredana Longo (Catania, 1967; she lives in Milan) is a multitalented artist and performer. She creates installations with different techniques: video, photography, sculpture and scenography. For many years she has been working on a concept that she defines as ”Aesthetics of the destruction”. Lately, her work is influenced by social and political issues. Her favourite medium is fire, that she uses to write and dig every surface. Her work has been exhibited in many international venues such as: 2020 Quello che rimane, Palazzo Branciforte, Palermo/ 2019 Second Life, Sahraiflagshipstore, London/ Creative Executions, Officine Saffi, Milano/ La vita materiale, Palazzo da Mosto, Reggio Emilia/ Ardente, Fondazione Sicilia, Palermo/ 2018 SheDevil remix, Museo Pecci, Prato/ Piedediporco Francesco Pantaleone, Milano/ Samesamebutdifferent, Kunst Merano Arte, Merano 2017/ Victory, La Mattanza, Consolato Generale d’Italia a New York/ Due South, Delaware Contemporary Museum, Wilmington, USA/ Victory, Francesco Pantaleone arte Contemporanea, Palermo, 2016/ The Medina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale, Malta 2015/ Nel mezzo del mezzo, Palazzo Riso, Palermo, 2015/ My own war, GAM, Palermo 2014/ Un étésicilien, Chateau de Nyon, Svizzera 2013/ Violence- XV Biennale Donna- PAC- Ferrara/ WUunsch und Ordnung, AusstelungsraumKlingental, Basel, Svizzera 2010/ Inmotion 2009, BiennalInternacional de Performance i ArtsVisualsAplicades, CCCB, Spagna 2009/ AIM, International Biennale, Marrakech, Marocco, 2009/ Tina B., The Prague Contemporary Art Festival, Praga, Repubblica Ceca 2008/ Abracadabra, Italian Cultural Institute, Madrid, Spagna 2008/ Gemine Muse International,Benaki Museum, Athen.

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Marzia Migliora (Alessandria, 1972; she lives in Turin). In her artistic endeavours, Marzia Migliora uses a wide range of media including photography, video, sound, performance, installations and drawing. Her works have their origin in a deep concern for the individual and for his daily life; the themes that recur in her research are memory as a tool for articulating the present or the analysis of labour as affirmation of a participation in the social sphere. The result is a composite work able to nourish a shared experience, a strong emotional and intellectual involvement in the audience. Her works have been exhibited in many internationals venues, such as: Museo d’Arte Contemporanea del Castello di Rivoli, Rivoli, Torino; Fondazione Prada, Milano; Fondazione Merz, Torino; MA*GA, Museo arte Gallarate, Gallarate; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Padiglione Italia, 56a Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Venezia; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino; FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool; Ca’ Rezzonico, Venezia; Museo MAXXI, Rome; Carré d’Art, Nîmes; Serlachius Museum, Mänttä; Le MAGASIN Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble. She is currently represented by Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan/Naples.

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Rosy Rox (Naples, 1976; she lives in Naples) uses sculpture, installation and performance as main languages. Concentrating on the themes ascribed to the female identity, the provocative Rosy Rox establishes a fragmented universe, suspended between irony and seduction, lust and innocence, aggression and temptation. Her poetry underlies an alienating universe, suspended between the imaginary and the symbolic, and metaphorically crosses social, cultural and psychological conventions and constructs the complexity of existence and its irreducible dichotomies. From 2011 she is developing a collective project “The Gift” which combines the relationship between life and art through the engagement of different social communities, and it was presented at MADRE Museum in 2019. In 2012 she won the prize “One artwork for the Castle” with the project Inner Time, which reactivates with her very personal vision the ancient clock of the Castle returning a non conventional time that sends past, present and future in short. Her works are part of numerous public and private collections like VAF-Germany; PaBAAC, MIBACT-Italia; Museum Biedermann, Germany, Collection Alain Servais, Belgium, Sana Quisisarni New York, Ernesto Esposito, Napoli. Among her last performances: Frammento archetipo, Tenuta dello Scompiglio, Lucca (2016);Monumento di passaggio, Quartiere Intelligente, Naples (2015); Con-Tatto, Byblos Art Hotel |Villa Amistà, Verona (2015); La Robe, Museo MADRE, Napoli (2012); Mi infrangerò nella tua sentenza, Stadt Galerie, Kiel, (2012); Please return to you, CIAC Centro Internazionale per l’Arte contemporanea, Roma (2011).

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Marinella Senatore (Cava De’ Tirreni, 1977; she lives in Rome) is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice is characterized by a strong participatory dimension and a constant dialogue between history, popular culture and social structures. After the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples (1994-1997), the Conservatory of Music (1997) and the National School of Cinema in Rome (1999-2001), she is dedicated to visual art, where she uses different media: action, video, photography, installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, collage. Her practice therefore swings between the single and the multiple, between the individual and the collective, between the micro and the macro dimension, to trigger a short circuit between these polarities in which everyone can easily identify themselves and identify their own experience. For this reason, her work speaks to a universal audience, because her field of investigation are the emotions that everyone, no one excluded, have felt and feel while living. Her work has been exhibited in many international venues such as Manifesta 12; Centre Pompidou; Museo MAXXI; Queens Museum; Kunsthaus Zurich; Castello di Rivoli; Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen; Palais de Tokyo; Schirn Kunsthalle; Museum of Contemporary Art di Chicago; High Line, NY; Museo Madre; Faena Art Forum; Bozar; Kunstverein Ar / Ge Kunst; Museo Petach Tikva; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo; Serpentine Gallery; CCA Tel Aviv; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; ICA, Richmond; BAK Utrecht; Centro di Arte Dos de Mayo Palazzo Grassi; Museo Boijmans Van Beuningen; Moderna Museet; UABB Bi Shenzhen; Biennale di Lione; Biennale di Salonicco; Biennale di Liverpool; Biennale di Shiryaevo; Biennale di Atene; Biennale dell’Avana; Biennale di Göteborg; Contour – Biennale dell’immagine in movimento, Malines; Bienal de Cuenca; 54. Biennale di Venezia «ILLUMinations». Senatore is the winner of the 4th edition of Italian Council Grant, Premio MAXXI; Castello di Rivoli, Fellowship; The American Academy in Rome Fellowship; Il Premio New York; Dena Foundation Fellowship.


  • Organiserad av: Italienska Kulturinstitutet Stockholm