1Jenna Basso Pietrobon
Through the lens of my own experiences I study society with extreme honesty and offer an emotionally raw critique of political, economic, and social systems. Like a large soup being mixed with ingredients of architecture, art, design, psychology and dance – and being served in a handmade ceramic bowl. The meal is entitled ‘A Summary of My Life Thus Far’. With constant interconnections and links between the collections, this book takes you on a journey through my thoughts, ideas, research, and many years of creating.
I was born in 1986 and have experienced firsthand the powerlessness that is a recurrent theme for my generation. From the 2008 economic collapse to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, millennial adulthood is a story of disappointed expectations. While acknowledging the hurt that these crises have caused, I also see these events as an opportunity to re-evaluate faulty systems and to purge the repressed secrets, anxieties, and systemic injustices that brought us to this point of governmental and economic collapse. I also challenge the underlying moral beliefs that continue to motivate damaging ways of life—for example, the fetishization of hard work.
I am not afraid of using my practice as an outlet for emotion—and many of my projects are geared towards uncovering human psychology and motivations. I aim to reimagine society’s structure and relationship with wealth through critical works that envision and enact supportive, women-led leadership models within the arts and, hopefully, the world at large. I use projects such as Dimmi, Amore and Fondamenta to turn the system on itself and spread.
My work registers a push-and-pull with my family legacy. I embrace the material knowledge imparted by my grandparents and parents who worked in ceramics, product design, stonemasonry, construction, textiles, acting, teaching, and entrepreneurship. I also draw heavily upon my Italian roots and, after relocating to Italy in 2019, have immersed myself in its rich cultural history, looking to reference points as varied as Giorgio de Chirico, Carlo Scarpa, Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Cy Twombly, Jannis Kounellis, Marisa Merz, Maria Montessori, Antonio Gramsci, Alighiero Boetti, and Gio Ponti.
Many of my works repurpose discarded materials which vary from high-quality scraps of cashmere and marble to corroded pipes and rusted rotor discs. By giving these scraps a second life, I turn consumer culture on its head. A significant part of my use of these materials is understanding the cycle of their creation and consumption. I visit factories, learn about product histories, and spend months researching the raw materials. This process also entails collaboration—working with factory owners and employees, learning from their experiences and embodied knowledge allows me to bring the important conversation of the factory and sustainable production into the realm of art. The intention of my work is to open discussion for us all to be responsible for the affects on the planet, from the way we farm to the way we produce products, and consume – for us to think of the circular economy. I look to the future with hope, believing that we as humanity will support the planet so she can regain her health and balance.
Ultimately, I see my works as sites of encounter, open invitations to my viewer to reinvent themselves and the world around them. I perform the drama of life so that my viewers can see their own lives more clearly and feel less alone. Do you see me? Do you feel me? Do you hear me? Do you receive me? Do you see yourself? Do you find yourself? Are you witnessing yourself?
— Jenna Basso Pietrobon
M.F.A., Columbia University
B.F.A., University of Western Ontario
B.A., Media Information Technoculture, University of Western Ontario
Nicole Kaack is a curator, writer, and archivist. Her writing has been published by Artforum, BOMB, Art In America, The Brooklyn Rail, and Sound American.
Nicole has written all of the articles and text found within this website, and within the book titled ‘Open Invitation’. Her creative writing piece for the introduction of the website intertwines all the titles of the collections into a summary text which gives the reader a glimpse into the journey they are about to experience.
Irene Sgarro is an italian graphic designer and web developer working in the fields of print and digital design for companies and cultural institutions.
This website is inspired by a book. The homepage video acts like the books cover, and the introduction text that is partially shown on the right, references the next page, and the act of flipping a page. We like to think of how the concept of a book can be expanded into a new dimension, how can the book not end once bound, but rather continue to grow as more art work is made. The concept of this website is to merge the classic concept of the book, ink, classic typefaces, with a playfulness of a living organism.
“We have chosen to use Haarlem typeface by Edition Studio. Drawing inspiration from the importance of the chapters —and writing in general— the choice of typography is inspired by the typesetting of classic editorial projects. Although the font shows a contemporary design approach, it also gives a feeling for ink and ink stains more related to mechanical typesetting, as if it were the font of a typewriter. This feeling is emphasized in the design by the use of capital letters in titles or important headings (the typewriter doesn’t provide the possibility to use bolder weights). The serifs of the typeface reveal a peculiar design, which on small bodies translates into a very strong typographic black.” – Irene Sgarro
Special thanks to: Claudio Lancerini, Ludmila Koltakova, Rosanna Cazzaro, Mila Vittadello, Giulio Favotto, Diamante Beghetto, Ivan Lobba, Andrea Borsato, Ruggero Carlesso, Silvia Piras, Danilo Rigon, Romane Bourgeois, Elisabetta and Enrico Loss, Giambattista Mossolin, Sandro Favero, and Alessandro Mocellin.
Up-cycling discarded materials from local Italian factories such as Panzeri, Donati, Lanificio Colombo, Taroni, Ongetta, Crest Leather, Aria Lighting, Bussandri, Zanchetta Marmi, and Bonotto.