Statement of Record

Eight poems by KETTY LAROCCA

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A Good Idea

Published in Letteratura, no. 82–83 July–October 1966X

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My skin feels drawn (dehydrated, I think) you need

a light and fluid anti-wrinkle cream

    I’m sure I’ll come up with a good idea

the delicate and cool velvety moisture film

renders the skin fresh as dew

preventing clogged skin

    I’m sure I’ll come up with a good idea

and for the slackening a herb-based toner

to prevent blotches and for the enlarged pores

you need something more stimulating

    I’m sure I’ll come up with a good idea

and then the foundation won’t last unless I keep

the daytime formula on for twenty minutes tapping with my fingertips

but I could try the Max Factor plum cake

    I’m sure I’ll come up with a good idea

and the erase corrector creates light plays beneath the eyes

though over time it makes the eyelids sag

and then the important thing is to feel up-to-the-minute

like the promotion girls in the department stores

    I’m sure I’ll come up with a good idea

 

 

NOTICE
UnpublishedXX

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Considering the professionalism of the firm in question,

given also its international renown,

considering normal commercial competition,

given the commitment of the experts in all circumstances,

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NOTICE

to someone,

to everyone,

to anyone,

to each one

 

 

Considering that any …

Text on emulsified canvas, 75 x 61 cm, 1970, Carmignano, Prato, Archivio Galleria Schema. Several versions of this text were used in the performances of 1975 in Florence and Brescia.X

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considering that any procedure from a practical point of view presupposes a requirement of a concrete character that is acceptable within the framework of a perspective detached from partial considerations in a field so vast that it inevitably finds a confirmation that is not entirely pertinent and specific to the extent that in a vision of not immediately detectable aspects even on close observation of imponderable phenomena that dilate a vision sometimes rendered partial to an effective impossibility of verification related to a narrow field of consequential and contradictory considerations that determine ambiguous attitudes for an incipient participation enabling a valuation over time of the individual repercussions deriving from unforeseen deviations with degenerations albeit marginal that can be objectively resolved within an operational dynamic for a gradual improvement that effectively rules out every form of inactivity that cannot be immediately pinpointed with alternations of availability and interdisciplinary positions subsequently clarified in a more appropriate arrangement such as to permit the formation of a solid structure initially not verifiable in a balanced transformation such as to encounter a validity of principle considering the absenteeism in which a clearly-defined line of urgent active commitment in the experimental area with hypothetical incorporations for a larger problem annexed to which in this context is a concrete significance to be attributed in particular to an area of action strongly contaminated by excessive but justifiable necessities in an at times paradoxical determinism in a symbiosis of the emotional type but so frustrating as to confer a position on it

 

and me?

Unpublished, 1973

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my name, an insult, a disgrace, “unfit for active service”: the nice ones wet themselves laughing, and what do i do, laugh!? it’s like laughing three times a day at the same joke, what a gas. the nasty ones ask: have you painted before? and you say no, that you didn’t do anything, that you “had other interests” fantastic!! but then, you don’t know how, you let it out: i was a primary school teacher; shock horror!! and the nasty ones: what? you taught children to read, and me, crimson and lying: but using shape sets, that leaves them puzzled for a couple of seconds because they think it must be stuff that comes from America, you never know, better be careful about running it down.

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where are you from? from Florence, but i wasn’t born there, idiotic clarification, they still manage to forgive someone who is actually Florentine, but someone who chooses to go there … and so you correct yourself, badly. it was a move, yes, the school. ah! the kids’ school.

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and you live only there, in Florence?

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and me, like a boor, it never crossed my mind that you could live in two, three, or seven places: yes, but i travel … (sic) exaggerated! by this stage you’d fall on your knees; forgive me! forgive me! if i’ve been a primary school teacher, but not with shape sets, using a blackboard and chalk and no visual aids, but now i travel: train 297 departure 6:05 arrival in Milan 10:05 departure 19:55 arrival in Florence 23:30 and to bed.

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that’s it, the nasty ones stare at you, meaning: but that’s not travelling, and me? i’m perfectly aware that it’s not travelling, travelling means going to Rimini, in the summer, without timetables, just changing at Bologna, to go swimming.

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silent now. i get my things together in a rush and clumsily, clumsily to put it mildly, half the stuff on the floor, slipping all over the place, you pick them up, bunching together the 18/24 sheets and the 24/30 all of them already crumpled. and him take care and you, even somewhat half-heartedly: drop dead.

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and me?

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i haven’t worn a skirt in a long time, not to speak of a pleated tartan skirt, now just plain trousers, chinos, not the old-style, short chinos, but the modern ones in cornflower blue colour, old sugar this time, baggy, dragging on the ground, never new! and lipstick? i don’t want to think about it, i really liked wearing it; i did a test, if i wore lipstick they asked me if i had painted before. association of ideas like that of a police officer interrogating the “aforesaid”; what do i do? i hit him and tell him that as associations go, he could have made one with another part of the body which doesn’t have lipstick, but is the reason it’s worn.

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and me?

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nice jumper! ah yes! i bought it at Upim. the nasty ones smugly: sometimes you can find wonderful things even there! and you who had sent one you liked packing because in front of one of your works he had said fabulous, and poor wretch, he can never understand like me, who am not a great beauty; but what can i do, i begin to scratch, simulating a graceful gesture, if you could call it graceful: an old outbreak of eczema on the elbow. but i have to learn: you buy jumpers in the shops, those little ones with lots of rags at just 28,500 lire each, obviously, you can’t bloomin’ expect an armful of rags for that price; a jumper like a camisole,

that no-one wears any more and now they wear them on top.

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again with affectionate metalanguage

 

 

Deer are fast, Indians are fast, Indians are deer

Text printed on the invitation to the eponymous solo show at the Christian Stein gallery in Turin in March 1973

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if there were a chance that a handsome, somewhat stout man of around forty should still exist,

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and were not as is generally the case already dead, or rather picked clean by the swarming signs,

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if this man were to set himself as they say in the fairy tales to make use of the wits that had held him in good stead up to then;

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well this man would not be able to abstract the concept of identity

except from a basis of identical subjects

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but if this man is reduced to a trace

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black on white

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we can then observe how he is ineluctably led

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to accept his own identity purely on the basis of predicates

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and so if he is certain about being an Indian then he can easily also get to the point of believing that he is a deer basing himself on what people think about

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Indians and deer, that is a predicate

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his position, from one opinion to the next, continues to slide backwards however

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hard he tries to give himself stability: it’s said that Indians are primitives

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and that primitives are like children

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but if this is true, how can he be blamed for an egocentric

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way of thinking that formulates a judgement of identity from predicates?

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in a society in harmony with the laws of heaven, experience

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shows that the conclusion of syllogisms is justified only when the greater

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premise contains the lesser premise

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but when as a result of mighty hydraulic works

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due to collective efforts

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the rivers run upward from earth to sky

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then it may be that what lies outside the area of intersection

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of the predicates becomes irrelevant for the identification of the self and, through synthesis, the contradiction is excluded from the logic of pragmatic language

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this is what you think, dear friend

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instead this is the way things are

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as if it weren’t enough, it weren’t sufficient,

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to highlight the metaphorical aspects of an image even before it assumes them:

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impossible ‘before’

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to intensify the metaphor, once again even tautology has lost its

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challenge, he could proclaim himself ‘Little Johnny’

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a man with a camera

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a man with a palette and a floppy cravat

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are they already metaphors of themselves?

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declare that he lives in a photographic reality parallel to lived reality (?!)

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it’s like wanting to justify yourself, favouring a non-photographic reality,

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here and now, reality is only photo-lived and spoken

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and if i photo-live then i have dirty eyes, dirty hands, brain

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if i speak i have a dirty tongue and life

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if we want to draw a line from Altamira on

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and then if i continue to grasp, seize, and diversify, even through

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extreme wide-angle shots, i weary myself in vain, i bore myself continually,

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i inevitably repeat myself and i suffer

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i say that i’m the reporter of myself and others with

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some extra neurotic variant and that makes it okay?

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if i photo-live i don’t want to have ideas (fairy tales)

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if i speak i don’t want to have ideas (fairy tales)

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i can only have superimpositions

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i see through the ellipse of the e, the circle of the o, the circumference of the full stop,

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i speak through the iris, the retina, the optic nerve

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and i’m also sick and tired

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so i restrict myself to overlaying, retracing, writing, one over the other,

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but the metaphors are infinite, beautiful, how beautiful they are, you feel them, you see them

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“you, you” paradoxical, illegitimate, pathetic, idiotic, but in the end redeemed

 

 

as far as i’m concerned

Text reproduced in part in L. V. Masini, Ketty La Rocca, exhibition catalogue, Galleria Carini Ed. Florence, 1989. In brackets is the unpublished text taken from the MV Archive, in which two versions were found.

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[for women this is not a time for statements: they have too much to do

and then they have to use a language that isn’t theirs, within a

language that is as alien to them as it is hostile

therefore all i can say with an unusual intimacy, like a space that is generous

and desolate, but free, is that, rules to hand:] as far as i’m concerned,

i have all the defects of women without having their qualities: a negative feminine,

like others,

dispossessed of everything except the things that no-one wants,

and there are plenty of them, even if they need to be put in order somewhat,

hands, for instance, too late for female skills,

too poor and incapable to continue to grab,

it’s better to embroider with words and accelerate the universal paranoia,

and to the first imbecile who thinks he has discovered America “probably on account of a marriage turned sour”, yes, indeed, precisely for this reason

he will never be able to understand.

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[the signature has been removed]

 

 

Le mie parole, e tu?

Conceived on the occasion of the performance Le mie parole, e tu? at the Galleria Nuovi Strumenti in Brescia in March 1975 and at the Galleria La Tartaruga in Rome in April 1975.

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A special place where daily actions unfold

the false consciousness of language that fuels universal paranoia

deprives any alternative gesture of meaning

flattens any prominence of behaviour

threatens any extraneous sentiment

like a conveyor belt along which parallel meanings are forced to run

to cry “help!” I have to say “help!”

                      in other words!

In this action that I would call conjugation

I am an example to myself and to others of a total enslavement

to language, to its most enticing infrastructures,

I force myself to speak through a refined example

the others that take part in the action combine both a real

drama and my interior drama, my relation with the medium:

captivating but sterile: language does not determine even

illusory freedom, but proliferates contagiously, creates victims that conjugate

their very own condition and define it “you”.

 

Untitled

Conceived on the occasion of the performance Le mie parole, e tu? at the Galleria Nuovi Strumenti in Brescia in March 1975

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“and the proposal was made to abolish words entirely”, no, this is a text that I wrote some years ago, unpublished, as indeed were many others.

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So, the proposal was not made to cut off my hands and so I decided to photograph them, but they weren’t the same and people said the most malicious things about them. And so I decided to do it myself directly, with more style, begging your pardon, and with less malice: speak to them alone.

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To no avail! Well then I mortified them with a machine that copies, less real, but more mine, but not yet entirely so. I decided: I shall take possession of them again, and already telling myself about them like a memory, a stroke of the pen, just like everyone could do and with all images. Seriously, given that, the proposal was not made to cut off my hands, well then I’ll give you a painting, the only one still possible.

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Here is a painting.

 

 

 

 

Images of hands from Ketty LaRocca, Le mie parole
1973 / Handwriting on photograph
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Final image from Ketty LaRocca, Le mie parole e tu? 
1975 / Performance, Galleria Nuovi Strumenti, Brescia, Italy
 

About the author

Ketty LaRocca was an artist and poet of the Italian avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s whose visual work focused on communication. A pioneer in the feminist analysis and deconstruction of language, her work is currently undergoing a rediscovery with retrospectives across Europe and the U.S.

About the author

Aelmuire Cleary was born in London. She is a translator who has been living and working in Tuscany for over thirty years. She specializes in art history and criticism, literature and philosophy. She has three sons.

Statement of Record