Elisa Giardina Papa’s witty, research-based works frame the presentation and performance of gender, sexuality, and labour in the 21st century digital economy. Giardina Papa’s new video installation “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale (2022) reimagines the Sicilian myth of the donne di fora (“women from the outside and beside themselves”), described in orally passed-down tales as feminine, but also masculine; human, yet part animal; and benevolent, yet vengeful.
This video installation envisions the donne di fora as teenaged “tuners” who ride bikes customized with powerful sound systems through the abandoned postmodern architecture of Gibellina Nuova.
The ride of the “tuners” is interspersed with text and visual motifs from a 19th-century collection of Sicilian fairy tales, Giardina Papa’s fragmented childhood memories of songs and stories told by her grandmother, and the 16th and 17th- centuries Inquisition trials that criminalized women that were believed to be donne di fora.
Accompanied by ceramic sculptures of goose feet and braided snakes made in collaboration with Sicilian artisans, “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale repurposes the magical, ritualistic, and fantastical as radical forces that generate an imaginative space beyond predetermined categories of humanness and womanhood.