Barbara Duran

Anna Gioioso

on Dimora del Tempo – 2009

A Civil Prayer

Stabat Mater dolorosa iuxta crucem lacrimosa dum pendebat Filius…

I have found again the intensely dramatic words by Iacopone da Todi and the deep musicality of Pergolesi when I saw for the first time Forma corporeitatis (à las madres), the polyptych Barbara Duran dedicated to the Mothers of Plaza de Majo, to the victims of abuse, violence and oppression: this is her civil oration, with a profound character and a solemn holy composition. Frames of a drama of our times, in which the concerted nature and the representation’s movement offer the synthesis between pain and kindness, consolation and compassion, rebellion and resignation. A modern poem of sufferance in which, then as today, the Mothers carry the weight of sacrifice and of life’s contradictions, in which there is no more room for tears, but only for the dignity of the testimony, that which has seen disappear (yesterday in Argentina) and die (today in the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel) their own sons in front of their eyes.

White. Mourning.

A white kerchief tied around the head, a reminder of the first nappy used for their new-born, this is the symbol of the Mothers of Plaza de Majo. White is the ribbon revealing by its movements the violent attacks against women. A “white ache” – a “milky sea” – envelops the characters of “Cecità” (Blindness) in which José Saramago “exposes with vivid imagery and harsh accents the ethic’s night in which we have sunk”. An epidemic where miraculously a woman remains immune, a woman whose gesture of love becomes “the possibility to give back to man a common hope, and it will be her task to invent an itinerary of salvation, to recuperate the reasons of a united compassion”.
White is the overhanging sheet swaying in the wind – fifth drama – in “La danza” (The dance), short yet intense film which accompanies Duran’s work Arianna and Aracne: a premonition? The little girl who dances, the primitive gesture almost propitiatory. The enchantment of childhood and the disillusion of growing up; chaos and order. A poignant film in which Arianna’s thread has curdled in a scar that wounds the little girl’s expectations.

Yet Duran does not acknowledge the final pessimism of Saramago.
She offers her point of view to the anesthetizing of emotions and of reactivity, a course which is homage to the strength of sufferance and to the courage of living. So that the (collective) memory and the (personal) recollection should be nourishment for the present and everyone’s future.

This is Barbara’s gift: she gives us an emotional landscape, feelings as monads and clefts, or open and scented spaces, colours, sounds, an instrument to uproot our memories, which slowly rise to where resistance can be felt and the sound of distances crossed, in personal “respites of the heart” and of the mind. It is what happens watching the film “Don’t leave me”: a long journey through the complexities of life which leads to the serenity of separation, to the awareness and the acceptance; in the artist’s own words: “which allows struggle, integrity, ethics and compassion”.
Not by chance the landing place, a non-place, should be a multitude of souls, of lights, of sounds and of… memories, a path in fact she shows us herself as an itinerary of salvation.
And all this with the technical knowledge of who handles the camera as if it were a brush, being able to give back to the observer the sense of discovery of a canvas in progression.


Anna Gioioso