Barbara Taboni

In Barbara Taboni’s work there are various elements that refer to the human body. There are plaster casts of parts of the body, symbols of the unique nature of the individual: for example, casts of feet, all different and unique just as every individual is unique, faithful reproductions on which even real hairs taken from the subject have been applied (“Standing feet”, 2005, variable dimensions). Then there is the manikin, like the ones in shop windows, which is the exact opposite of the plaster cast as it refers to an artificial human body, mass-produced and broken up, a typical expression, according to the artist, of the times we live in. Barbara Taboni’s visual language includes soft outlines, with barely hinted human features, rather like rag dolls that have been started but not finished, which in their vagueness allude to immaturity, to larval incompletion: the artist calls them pupae, and explains: “a pupa is a butterfly before it opens, symbol of the soul which is the psyche… pupa calls to mind the pupil which reflects everything around us, the surroundings that give the name to a doll, in French poupée”. In her recent works, these symbols are interwoven: as in the perturbing semi-humanity that emanates from the digital photo of two manikins seen in a shop window with nocturnal lighting, a camouflaged illusion of reality caused by the fact that real bodies have become more and more fake, altered by make-up, by the surgeon’s scalpel, by digital touching-up (“Pupae”, 2007); elsewhere (“Psyche”, 2007), the mutilated and incomplete plaster manikin, elongated by strong stylisation and unreal proportions, brings to the surface the values once assumed by De Chirico and by Metaphysics. And a metaphysical melancholy pervades “Psyche” 07, the work created for OPEN 10, in which the series of plaster busts obtained from a doll-manikin are mutilated and divided in half, along an axis that passes through the head and shoulders. Some aspects, including the white of the surface and the formal harmony, call to mind statues and classical art. The regular and symmetrical arrangement of a series of these mutilated figures, all the same, on the Promenade at Lido produces a subtle cemetery-like sense of loss of identity, of abandonment, but at the same time it is also a place to pause and reflect; this is strengthened by the fact that the author has provided pencils, anchored to each bust, with which people can write something on the figure they prefer, leaving a sign of their passing… Writing on the statues is a need to be there, an unforeseeable return, sometimes happy, more often brutal and inadequate, a need each subject feels to state his individuality against the depersonalised and extraneous humanity of the monument.