How do we draft a life, make of it a project, do our daily work? In what material and language does it arrive to us? And what if it is done with one’s own body, and that body becomes this material but not the subject? Villiger’s autofictions––whether sculpture or image, human or vegetal body––prompt such queries. As Giselda Pollock writes brilliantly, ‘here are the collected works that form the project that we name Hannah Villiger. She is not the originating and knowing cause of the work, but the site of its daily compulsion.” –– Quinn Latimer
Hannah Villiger (1951–1997) lived and worked as a resident artist at Istituto Svizzero in Rome from 1974 to 1976. There she realized her early artistic ideas and developed the sculptural approach to photography that would shape all of her later work—namely large-format photographs of her own body arranged into blocks of several images, which show close-ups of sometimes fragmented and abstracted body parts. Villiger viewed herself as a sculptor rather than a photographer, and these Roman years were decisive in shaping her artistic practice. In her studio and in the garden of Villa Maraini, she first developed simple objects inspired by the materials of Arte Povera, then gradually shifted to photography, perceiving it as a more sculptural method.
Published on the occasion of Works/Sculptural at Istituto Svizzero in Rome, Villiger’s first major solo exhibition in Italy, Hannah Villiger: Roma and afterwards expands the horizon of the exhibition with unpublished materials from the artist’s estate as well as images from her working diaries that offer insight into her artistic practice in Rome.