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Installation view at Blitz Valletta, Malta, 2019

Like a sleuth, the Italian artist Rossella Biscotti stalks her subjects for years, enfolding them into the fabric of her own existence. Her show “Three Works and a Script,” curated by Sara Dolfi Agostini, documented the progress of four forensic investigations into some of the covert psycho-social frameworks that not only underpin our assumptions about how things work but also, for that very reason, dictate how we behave.

In Alfabeto (Alphabet), 2018, twelve black-and-white photographs captured the consecutive position of a physiotherapy patient encased in the robotic exoskeleton of a Lokomat—a treadmill system used to train people with paralyzed limbs to walk again. The series cites Eadweard Muybridge’s filmic depiction of the mechanics of natural body movement, “Animal Locomotion,” 1884–87, yet likens the process of learning to walk to that of learning a new language by rote, each position evincing the letter of a cryptic alphabet. The headless body in this work becomes part of a system of cultural signification dictated by hierarchical social codes.

Scrolling off the wall and across the floor like a computer printout, the tapestry Acquired Nationality, 2014, bore a graphic matrix representing aggregated census data on naturalized citizens living in Brussels and their registered partners differentiated by national origin. The work was produced with the binary system used to program the automated Jacquard loom that presaged the computer as the basis for information processing. Here, the misleading binary path of demographic inquiry compresses humanity into limited categories that deconstruct identity down to the extent of total dysfunction, engendering a multiplicity of “others.” Such efforts to encapsulate human existence in code, one could argue, form the very foundation of today’s society.

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