Katia Bassanini: A Soldier's Lust
Inspired by the Latin myth of the goddess Diana, huntress and protector of women, A Soldier's Lust pays homage to the Futurist artist and performer Valentine de Saint-Point, to whose infamous "Manifesto of Lust" The Lust Weekend is dedicated. De Saint-Point, like Diana, was enigmatic and acted in ways that served to dispense sovereignty and reinforce free will.
A Soldier's Lust, like much of Bassanini's video and performance work, explores contemporary life through absurdist role-playing and slapstick comedy. Lured by a glittering sign on the street stating "Misty Lust Inside," viewers encounter Madame D, a lady of leisure dressed in 1920s-era finery, relaxing in a domestic environment. Madame D invites the audience to choose from a framed menu of six different 10-minute performances: "Cofffeee Talk," "Dressing Your Soldier for Duty," "Faces of Conquest," "Noisy Food," "Seven Ways to Victory," and "Tricks for Intercourse in Public Spaces."
In movements inspired by abstract dance, Madam D performs household tasks, bathes, dresses, and prepares coffee for guests. Making sexually suggestive jokes, she utilizes items such as a claw foot bathtub, fruits and vegetables, baguettes, a hotplate and kettle, a chair, a hanging plant, makeup, and a man's suit. A mist machine, colored lights, and color wheel projection add to the therapeutic ambiance as recorded voiceovers and rumbling engine noises accompany her actions.
Bassanini's Madame D explores the concept of leisure and the unrestricted personal time it requires. From offering advice about engaging in public sex: "…surprise your man by suggesting he cop a feel under the picnic blanket…just watch his eyes light up," to making small talk over coffee, she luxuriously bathes in a tub filled with candy and Styrofoam peanuts. As she leans toward the ears of audience members, Madame D sensuously chews fragrant fruits and vegetables, using smell and sound to stimulate. In her performance monologues, she asks searching questions such as: "do you consider yourself a bit weak, a bit romantic?" and "are you leaving your desire behind?" In an ecstatic and revealing moment, she sprinkles herself with white flour and exclaims: "here is a great recipe for triumph after tragedy (you can get all of the dust off of your life)…you are a force of nature! It covers the sweet spots, see it?"
Katia Bassanini (b. 1969, Lugano, Switzerland; d. 2010, Lugano, Switzerland) lived and worked in New York and Lugano, Switzerland. Bassanini received her diploma in Visual Art from the Superior School of Visual Art (ESAV), Geneva, Switzerland, in 1996. Select solo exhibitions included: Centro d'arte la Rada, Locarno, Switzerland (2009); Aktuelle Kunst, Luzern, Switzerland (2006); Momenta Art, Brooklyn (2005); Centro d'Arte Contemporanea Ticino, Ticino, Switzerland (2004); Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Università La Sapienza, Rome, Italy (2003) and others. Bassanini's group presentations, performances and special projects included: Kunsthalle Vienna, Vienna, Austria (2009); Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland (2008); SculptureCenter, Long Island City (2007); and Swiss Institute, New York (2006) among others, and she received awards including Fair Play '07, Berlin, Germany (2007) and Swiss Awards, Fri-Art Centre d'Art Contemporain, Fribourg, Switzerland (2000).
Performa, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts organization established by RoseLee Goldberg in 2004, is dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Performa launched New York's first performance biennial, Performa 05 in 2005, followed by Performa 07 in 2007, and Performa 09 from November 1–22, 2009. The biennials have been greeted with tremendous critical and popular acclaim.
Katia Bassanini: A Soldier's Lust is curated by Ingrid Chu and Savannah Gorton.
Special thanks to Stiftung Erna und Curt Burgauer, Zürich for their generous support of Katia Bassanini: A Soldier's Lust.