Valentina
Sommariva

1986, Milano

L’ORA D’ARIA (2014)

This work is based on a reflection on prison yards, where detainees are allowed to stay in the open air and do physical activities for the time allowed by the regulations. They are usually spaces made up of few elements, but they are the only places in penitentiaries that allow for a full vision of the sky. The prison system has been at the heart of the artist’s research for some time now, and her interest has come to focus in particular on the way in which the institution affects the detainees’ behaviour.

The video tells the story of this place by examining a simple yet essential aspect of life behind bars: sport. Care for oneself is an indispensable element in resisting the hardship of imprisonment. The space is split into three frames which are repeated one after the other in succession with an obsessively monotonous frequency. A man runs along the perimeter between the walls of one of the outdoor yards. The breaks between one section and another are calculated on the basis of the time taken to run the distance.

The figure of the detainee, absent from the images, may be heard as he pants during training. The air is inhaled and exhaled from his body as if he were undertaking some ritual of purification. Like an attempt to free oneself before taking on board new energies.

Works

Valentina Sommariva, L’ora d’aria, 2014, still from video
Valentina Sommariva, Degli amori muti, 2013, still from video
Valentina Sommariva, Biodiversità, 2013, c-print, 20×30 cm
Valentina Sommariva, Domenica, 2013, inkjet print on cotton paper, 40×30 cm
Valentina Sommariva, Domenica, 2013, inkjet print on cotton paper, 40×30 cm
Valentina Sommariva,Domenica, 2013, inkjet print on cotton paper, 40×30 cm
Valentina Sommariva, Domenica, 2013, inkjet print on cotton paper, 40×30 cm