Betty Bee, Nacquero A Napoli Improvvisandosi: Modelle - Cameriere - Manicuriste - Arciere - Motocicliste - Scassacazzo - Pazze - Artiste - Compagne E Scompagne / Installation view / Photo Agnese Bedini, DSL Studio
Betty Bee: Nacquero A Napoli Improvvisandosi
Apr 7 – Jun 7, 2024
Milan, Italy

Strictly brunettes. Indeed brunette one, brunette the other.
Capricious by poetics the first by birth, smooth as a straight line the second. The birthplaces of both are Parthenopean. As for one rooted on the cliffs of Posillipo where she also spent the resilient months of the recent Pandemic, while the other belongs to that blood material that protrudes into the vessel of the great swarming artery of Via Foria and its labyrinthine environs, where she still resides.

For both dwelling, familiarity and parental ties are a tangle and an eternal, relentless return. The city of Naples has been gestating them forever. Now it is the meeting of their bodies, mostly stripped of embellishments and disguises. Bodies that resist an irrepressible death impulse that constantly pushes from the wings of each image. Bodies that make themselves shield and barrier, warning and above all preservation. Who recognize the same unease and know how to personify it in amusing poses. Bodies of the same age whose photographic representation bears a date that distances them by thirty years. Time lapse that inflames mirroring in a self-conscious game of spontaneous homage. Is Betty Bee’s dark portent of SAGG Naples or is SAGG Naples an animated ante litteram resurrection of Betty Bee? Possible both, true neither! Certainly one validates the other, and looking at them in the mirror is a compelling thought experiment. Imagining them from the perspective of an upturned telescope provokes vertigo. Reading SAGG Napoli through Betty Bee’s experience and rereading Betty Bee through that of SAGG Napoli.

The beginning, the captatio benevolentiae, however, is entrusted to a declared homage. Two separate and differently formalized tombstones announce the possible death of both. One recites in gold-on-rose the varied occupations and pre-occupations that Elisabetta experienced and then interpreted between ’95 and ’02 and on which, with Sofia’s complicity, we titled this unexpected but strongly invoked encounter. The other, on the other hand, interprets her by coming down from the wall, making her way into the room, positioning herself as a minimal monolith, another true dark omen, because SAGG is much darker than Betty and Betty is much more ironic than SAGG! And on this totem she sums up her colleague’s romantic epitaph in a sneer (or perhaps a smirk) and two definitive appositions forever: artist and athlete, period. The date of birth is given exactly in SAGG, remains uncertain for Betty (the first great enigma), while that of death is for both temporarily suspended.

SAGG Napoli then presents four pictures, the first of a complete series of twelve – ideally a calendar in the artist intentions – where more or less erotic poses against the background of various facets of Naples portray her differently involved, in her own way, in other occupations and pre-occupations. Next to the portrait pictures, a series of instructions to evacuate daily that death instinct mentioned in my incipit, that irrepressible chasm or avalanche that everything could overwhelm. A form of containment and embankment. Poses for this are studied in detail. Nothing left to chance under the coastal fireworks, in the company of the Archaeological Museum’s runners, along Zaha Hadid’s Afragola station or in front of downtown stores. The photos, placed in pairs like two-faced Janus, look around on a wall specially created as a Neapolitan-style Arc de Triomphe, left and right, front and back of the central opening.

Betty Bee in the same room revisits herself and recovers some highly iconic moments that are related to each other. Two recurring elements: a pink bathtub like that of the tombstone and a gold barbed wire like the words of her epitaph. In the tub stand both the father in the cult video “Lionetti Luigi class of 1920” and her from behind, as rigid as the legs of that mannequin spitting out of the water in Armin Linke’s shot and on which she has hand-tattooed the same barbed-wire motif that tends to imprison the fleshy flowers in the only painting on display. They are harnessed by the web of loose barbed wire that spreads beyond the painting’s boundaries. It might look like a severed nature freer to breathe than those of the past, but in truth the bunch is strangled, hung at the root. And then again she catches fire tied to a pole above the shots of that investigator hired to return her, unknowingly, an autonomous image yes, but bound to the concepts and preconceptions of the same society that judged her. And to conclude a statuesque descent from the classic staircase, proud as in a Helmut Newton shot, but with her panties down. Betty looks at SAGG who returns her gaze.

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