in Frieze London | 10 OCT 23

Elisa Giardina Papa, ‘“U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale’

A group of teenagers traverse a utopian city, their journey nuanced with poetic texts and motifs borrowed from 19th-century Sicilian fairy tales

in Frieze London | 10 OCT 23

Elisa Giardina Papa

“U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale   

2022, 12 min 12 sec  

In “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale (2022), Elisa Giardina Papa delves deep into the intricacies of the Sicilian myth of the donne di fora, a figure shrouded in ambiguity, embodying dualities of gender, nature, and moral disposition – a convergence of the magical and criminal, the benevolent and vengeful. The film navigates through the narrative of a group of teenagers representing the donne di fora, traversing a utopian city, their journey nuanced with layers of poetic texts and motifs borrowed from a 19th-century collection of Sicilian fairy tales. The work integrates fragments of the artist’s childhood memories encapsulated in songs and narratives from her grandmother, melded with archival material recounting the persecution of women alleged to be donne di fora during the Inquisition trials of the 16th and 17th centuries. Giardina Papa crafts a narrative that oscillates between folklore and historical documentation, offering a solemn contemplation on the intricate fabric of Sicilian cultural and historical narratives.   

About Elisa Giardina Papa

The research-based art practice of Elisa Giardina Papa (b.1979, Medicina) seeks forms of knowledge and desire that have been lost or forgotten, disqualified, and rendered nonsensical by hegemonic demands for order and legibility. Sifting through discarded AI training datasets, censored cinema repositories, or fabricated heretical accusations, Giardina Papa traces how recurrent forms of extractive capitalism and imperialism have strained our capacities for living and labouring. Through critical yet poetic framing, she works across large-scale mixed-media installations and experimental films to draw attention to those parts of our lives which, nonetheless, remain radically unruly, untranslatable and incomputable. Recent exhibitions include: ‘The Milk of Dreams’, 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia; the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA’s ‘Modern Mondays’); the Whitney Museum (Sunrise/Sunset Commission); Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018; 6th Buenos Aires Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento; XVI Quadriennale di Roma; BFI London Film Festival; Flaherty NYC; M+ Hong Kong; ICA Milano, among others. 


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Elisa Giardina Papa, “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale, 2022, 12 min 12 sec. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin.