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CLAIRE FONTAINE, Il personale, 2023

Artist: Claire Fontaine
Curator: Marcello Smarrelli
Company: Elica spa
Number of participants: 30
Location: Elica – Fabriano
21st edition

IL PERSONALE is a site-specific artwork created by collective artist Claire Fontaine winner of the 21st edition of Premio Ermanno Casoli, curated by Marcello Smarrelli.

The new luminous installation was conceived for the most iconic location of Elica’s headquarters in Fabriano, stemming from the reflections generated during the workshop “Lavoro femminile visibile e invisibile”, held by Claire fontaine and attended by a group of 30 women who hold managerial roles within the company. In the light of some fundamental concepts of feminism –that the artistic duo has been exploring since its beginnings – the participants were asked to express themselves on the theme of female empowerment, with the aim of highlighting their difficulties in reconciling work and family.

The emotional challenges that emerged during the work with the artist inspired the luminous activation of the powerful quote, “The personal is political,” the title of a pamphlet by US feminist activist Carol Hanish from 1970. With this text, Hanisch created a milestone of feminism by refuting the idea that sexuality, physical appearance, abortion, childcare and the division of domestic labour are personal issues without political dignity.

The work thus becomes a reflection on the status of women in the professional and social context, bringing to light their value and emphasizing the importance of a broader political vision to promote equality and respect for women’s rights as transformative agents of society.

As is usual in Claire Fontaine’s work, words break out of their usual usage and become something else, changing perception and meaning of the contexts in which they are found. In this case, in the Italian phrase “il personale è politico”, an ambiguity persists that is not present in English, since the word ‘personale’ means both ‘personal’ and ‘personnel’. This ambiguity can be understood as a statement referring to the role of the employees of a company like Elica – where Diversity & Inclusion and Gender Equality strategies are the object of a special attention that emphasizes their importance in both the professional and social contexts.

In addition to confirming the importance of language within Claire Fontaine’s research, the work also reiterates her stance on appropriation. Indeed, the very title of the book, ‘The personal is political’, was not claimed by Carol Hanish, who attributed it to other feminists who in turn, when questioned on the issue, decreed it to be the result of the anonymous and collective intelligence of slogans.

Project supported by Regione Marche – Assessorato alla Cultura