Opera Viva, The Billboard…Maimouna Guerresi

12 March - 12 April 2020

“This time, we will not meet under the poster, this time it will be a private journey to a public place” (A. Bulgini)

The 2020 edition of “Opera Viva Barriera di Milano, the Billboard” is starting in a very delicate moment for the global community. Everybody’s life is constrained within specific rules, which are required for everybody’s safeguard. The pathways through the public space rarefy, are only paced by the primary needs: health, work, food; within this context, the art work interferes for a split second, in a fortuitous meeting. The artwork is appointed the hope, the opportunity and the task to release hints from which one can draw to pursue his/her own existential pathway.

Thus, from 12 March up to the end of the year, day after day are artists the world over alternating in the billboard site of piazza Bottesini roundabout, along the pathway that connects the social housing facilities of Barriera di Milano to the close market in piazza Foroni and will accompany the people in their everyday life in their obligatory ways, donating to everybody, with no discriminations.

Flashback has decided to inaugurate this new narration of Opera Viva Barriera di Milano, the Billboard 2020 edition (a project devised by Alessandro Bulgini and curated by Christian Caliandro) with Rubber Tire, First Lesson (2014) by the important Italo-Senegalese artist Maïmouna Guerresi and does it as a conscious gesture in these times of emergency, in the belief that the artwork, never as in this period, represents a delicate act of poetry that can accompany people in their everyday life.

Maïmouna Guerresi’s photograph Rubber Tire, First Lesson is parted of the M-eating series (which the authoress started in 2012), showing African men, women and children who are photographed individually first and then reunited in a convivial situation; instead of food, the table shows an object that recalls war, the conflict and which – in this context – sees its original meaning vanish to acquire a brand new, more intimate and daily one. In this case, the white painted tire is a scrap: a recurring concept in Opera Viva Barriera di Milano, a theme that crosses underground all its editions and constitutes a sort of founded core, which becomes a strange object of study for the lesson in progress.

An extremely useful lesson in this historical moment, a teaching that can suggest us the reed to utilize what we have already available, even the waste, to recreate our present, since the foundation of culture, thanks to which we nurture our humanity, is the freedom of spirit and the Ludens (editor’s note: the title of the 2020 edition) are all of us: fully free individuals, who are conscious we can act on the world, recreating it day after day, in any conditions, through creativity. 
On the background, you can read Bi-smi ‘llāh (“In the Name of God”), i.e. the initial part of the invocation by which every daily activity starts.

Maïmouna Guerresi work plays on this tension between the aggregation and the isolation that characterize the characters of the teacher and pupil girls, between conviviality and distraction: together and separated, these characters bring the game of reality to life.