Irene Montemurro, Grace is the only exception (2023)March 30 - April 22, 2023 Private View: Wednesday 29 March, 6-8pm
All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception.
– Simone Weil
Ahead of her exhibition at Pipeline, Irene Montemurro presents one of her notebooks as an introduction to the feverish landscape of her imagination. Filled with a collage-like array of found images, drawings and words, Grace is the only exception (2023) reveals the multitude of ideas, experiments and free associations that lie behind Montemurro’s poetic and evocative process.
Begun in June 2021 in Italy, Montemurro’s notebook provides an uninterrupted account of her most authentic thoughts mixed together with some explored fictional ones – those she never believed would be seen by anyone else. This notebook can be seen as an autobiographical yet fantastic gathering of objects: an expanded diary of sorts that speaks to the influence of avant-garde comic books, film, poetry and punk music lyrics, as well as personal memories, riffing on the religious imagery and text of Montemurro’s Catholic upbringing.
The title is a quote from the French philosopher Simone Weil, taken from the compilation of her notebooks Gravity and Grace (1952). Montemurro decontextualizes and reappropriates Weil’s notion of “Grace” and describes the notebook as “the space where the world building (Grace) can freely take place.” If the sketchbook is home, Montemurro views “Grace as the creation of a safe and controlled environment to dwell in and dramatize feeling, pain and (painterly?) pleasure.”
A pair of gloves hangs next to the notebook, symbolically asking visitors to try them on and turn the diary’s pages. Through this ritual act of dressing-up, we are granted entry into Montemurro’s intimate world and invited to play. Fashion historian and curator Valerie Steele writes that certain materials have “a powerful erotic appeal by virtue of their tactile, olfactory, and visual characteristics as well as their symbolic associations.” For Steele, “the costume is thus part of an elaborate erotic drama.” Within this context, Montemurro describes femininity as a form of play, or an aesthetic of its own that is constructed, distorted and exaggerated – all in the quest for Grace. In words of gender theorist Judith Butler: “The distinction between expression and performativeness is crucial.”
Irene Montemurro (Maura Sappilo) grew up in Southern Italy and is based in London. She received her BA in Illustration from the Camberwell College of Art (2017) and her postgraduate degree from the Royal Drawing School (2018), which hosted an online exhibition of her work as recipient of the Sir Denis Mahon Award (2020). Sappilo is closely involved with the London music scene, creating gig posters, cover artwork and stop motion animated music videos for a number of bands and venues. Additionally, Montemurro recently founded the experimental punk band Moist Crevice.
In the Pipeline
This section presents a single artwork by the artist/artists whos exhibition is next in the program. The work is typically installed in a separate, enclosed area of the gallery during the course of the current exhibition.