Artwork of the month June

Ketty La Rocca, in principio erat, 1971, Kienzle Art Foundation / Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein

Ketty La Rocca

* 1938 in La Spezia, † 1976 in Florence, Italy

in principio erat, 1971

Photograph on canvas

78 x 35 cm

Kienzle Art Foundation / Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein


In the work in principio erat Ketty La Rocca's hands become protagonists in order to explore language as manifested by gestures. In communication, hands are an important means of expression. They can be used sweepingly, expressively, they can convey or emphasise, appease or unite. They can express emotions. The black-and-white photograph printed on canvas depicts the artist's hands in strong contrast against a black background. Clasped together and detached from the rest of the body, they appear almost object-like. Below we read the words: decentrata allude forse come ipotesi per non coinvolgere [decentralised allusions perhaps as a hypothesis for non-inclusion]. In her studies, the artist makes use of abstraction and reduction: she consistently divorces the expression of language from its content by transferring it into a visual or sculptural form and successively adding layers of abstraction.

La Rocca's work is informed by an emphatically conceptual approach and is expressed by her use of a wide range of different media. She has worked, for example, with photography, video and television, creating drawings, collages, sculptures, integrating writing and text into her work, and also using performances as a form of artistic presentation. The key theme is language and its influence in constituting reality. According to her understanding, language should not be viewed as a neutral vehicle of information that we fashion ourselves. Instead, it is a medium with inherent cultural norms and power relations that that comes from the "other" and penetrates us. On this basis, Ketty La Rocca sets out in different ways to question language in terms of its structure. In particular, she identifies the male dominance of linguistic manifestations and discusses this aspect in her work: "Women have no time for declarations: they have too much to do, and moreover they would then have to use language that is not their own, language that is both alien and hostile to them [...]."

Denise Rigaud

<b>Ketty La Rocca, in principio erat, 1971, Kienzle Art Foundation / Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.