simone forti

distant lands

february 17 – may 18, 2023

6pm–8pm

via a. stradella 7

opening on February 16

Galleria Raffaella Cortese is delighted to present three solo exhibitions by renowned American artists Simone Forti, Joan Jonas, and Kiki Smith, opening on February 16, 2023. Each of their decades-long practices of experimentation across different media can be united through their common interests in and study of the human body, the animal kingdom, and movement as a vital force. Animals in particular have inspired a number of Simone Forti’s works across photographs, drawings, and performances since the late 1960s; they have made appearances in nearly all of Joan Jonas’ multimedia installations and have been the subject of countless drawings of hers; and finally, cats and pigeons are the main protagonists of the sculptures and drawings exhibited as part of Kiki Smith’s latest show at the gallery.

The title of Simone Forti’s second solo show at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Distant Lands, expresses a desire for convergence and exchange between Italy and California. Born in Florence in 1935, Simone and her family emigrated to Los Angeles in 1938, where she later studied with choreographer Anna Halprin and has since spent most of her life. After her association with the Judson Dance Theater—a collective of dancers, composers, and visual artists who performed at the Judson Memorial Church in Downtown Manhattan in the early 1960s—and realizing her acclaimed Dance Constructions, in 1968, during the artist’s time in Rome, Forti first took interest in the movements and gestures of the animals she saw at the zoo. It was during that same year that the artist spent in Rome that she also made photographs of the cats lounging in the archeological area of Largo Argentina, which is still to this day the permanent residence of many cats.

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Galleria Raffaella Cortese is delighted to present three solo exhibitions by renowned American artists Simone Forti, Joan Jonas, and Kiki Smith, opening on February 16, 2023. Each of their decades-long practices of experimentation across different media can be united through their common interests in and study of the human body, the animal kingdom, and movement as a vital force. Animals in particular have inspired a number of Simone Forti’s works across photographs, drawings, and performances since the late 1960s; they have made appearances in nearly all of Joan Jonas’ multimedia installations and have been the subject of countless drawings of hers; and finally, cats and pigeons are the main protagonists of the sculptures and drawings exhibited as part of Kiki Smith’s latest show at the gallery.

The title of Simone Forti’s second solo show at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Distant Lands, expresses a desire for convergence and exchange between Italy and California. Born in Florence in 1935, Simone and her family emigrated to Los Angeles in 1938, where she later studied with choreographer Anna Halprin and has since spent most of her life. After her association with the Judson Dance Theater—a collective of dancers, composers, and visual artists who performed at the Judson Memorial Church in Downtown Manhattan in the early 1960s—and realizing her acclaimed Dance Constructions, in 1968, during the artist’s time in Rome, Forti first took interest in the movements and gestures of the animals she saw at the zoo. It was during that same year that the artist spent in Rome that she also made photographs of the cats lounging in the archeological area of Largo Argentina, which is still to this day the permanent residence of many cats.

In the exhibition at the gallery, Forti presents a number of drawings from the series News Animations. In this practice, which the artist has continued working on since the mid-1980s, she explores the potential of language expressed through movement, words, images, and sound, all originating in response to stories found in newspapers. Forti started “reading” the news as a sort of cathartic response to the death of her father, who would attentively read newspapers each day, in 1983, and has since developed this body of work through performances, video works, and drawings. Sketches of human figures, a tree, a crow, and lightning appear in the drawings alongside words, fragmented and covered up, describing thoughts and concerns as disparate as “Ecol Econ Ogy Omy” and war occurring in “Distant Lands” all come together in the reflections on language and media transported on paper.

Following a number of exhibitions and performances in Italy — including the artist’s 2019 show at Fondazione ICA Milano and her 2021 survey at Centro Pecci in Prato, the hometown of the Forti family — in January 2023 the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles opened the largest exhibition on the West Coast dedicated to the artist’s groundbreaking practice. 

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