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Gina Pane

(1939—1990)


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French artist, associated with the more extreme forms of Body art. Born in Biarritz of Austrian and Italian parents, she attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris during the early 1960s. Her performances, which involved self-mutilations and extremes of endurance, were associated with protests against the Vietnam War. For instance, in Unanaesthetized Climb (1970) she climbed up and down a ladder with spikes on the rungs until her feet bled, as a symbol of the escalation of the war. Her work has also carried feminist implications. One of her best-known works was Azione Sentimentale, which occupied three separate spaces in a Milan gallery. In the first, the floor was covered with black velvet in the centre of which there was a white rose. On the walls there were photographs of roses, each dedicated to one woman from another. In the second, there was a projected image of the artist holding red roses. In the final space, Pane enacted a performance in front of an all-female audience. After adopting a foetal position she pricked her arms with thorns and cut the palms of her hands which she then offered to the audience. In the background there were French and Italian texts read by women and a recording of Frank Sinatra singing ‘Strangers in the Night’. As well as social protest against the confinement and control of the body and an appeal to political lesbianism, it is quite possible to read a religious element in the implications of sacrifice in Pane's work.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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