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|Bordelli / Brothels
Forget nothing. Take responsibility for remembering everything: the events, the practices and systems, and the places burdened with the weight of shame. The dark side of a story in which a woman, often stripped down to bare life by the “sovereign power”, can only exist as “nature”: an inanimate body to be used, abused and sacrificed when she becomes a burden and is no longer needed.
One such place of shame is the brothel, the venue for the violence of a perverse relationship in which the abstract “other” becomes a physical reality: the hallmark of misogyny and the androcentrism of the patriarchal ideology.
At a certain point in history, society began to structure itself according to a patriarchal model, stripping away centuries-old habits and traditions that made space for female divinities and the creative power of the Great Mother, where being woman played a primary role not only in understanding origins, but also in the dynamics of relationships with the opposite sex.
By erasing this view, which had given substantial value to the feminine, the patriarchy imposed a symbolically androcentric system, where men are dominant, and woman is transformed into the "Other: a secondary being consigned to the role of object for all eternity" (Simone de Beauvoir) and at the complete disposal of the masculine claim of superiority.
Nowadays, it is easy to see that violence against women - whether in its less evident or in more extreme forms such as trafficking, prostitution, rape and femicide - is not only the consequence of a continuation of the patriarchal mentality and its logic of dominion, but is also the matrix for a form of brutality that manifests in the devastation of nature and of the environment, the unwarranted seizing of resources and the impoverishment of habitat, which has forced thousands of people to abandon their homelands in an attempt to escape poverty and war.
As a woman, aware that everything that has to do with women has to do with me, and as an artist, firm in the conviction that art is an infinite investigation of the world and its history, I felt the need to shed light on that particular condition of female slavery that takes place in the brothel, where a woman’s body is transformed into a workforce destined to satisfy a male sexuality that manifests as the venting of anger, the quelling of uncontrollable impulses, and the right to possess.
Nor did I ignore the complicity of the female housekeepers of the “maisons closes”, who are enemies of women perhaps because they are, in the first instance, enemies of themselves and unable to give themselves value, starting with the Self.
My studies have led me to discover, with dismay, that brothels were common even in the Nazi extermination camps – places that were essentially only designed to produce corpses – which were operating at full capacity during the Fascist regime: a breeding ground for the myth of male virility. These brothels were frequented by soldiers during periods of leave from the front line, in a war that often resorted to the weapon of rape to humiliate the enemy by violating the body of “his” woman.
This has been a hard road, traversed by many emotions: pain, compassion, horror, rage and a sense of powerlessness, but also determination to testify to the misery of the patriarchal ideology, which, even today, is impoverishing our societies and undermining the lives of so many women; a determination to continue the fight not against men, but against a sexist system that no declaration of human rights can dismantle.
I am dedicating this work to all those women injured and killed by the violence of the patriarchy, to all those women who have rejected the status of victim and who claim a life with the right to self-determination, and the right to choose their own place in the world.