Lorena Cocioni / ROOMS Q&A

Our purpose in staging this exhibition was to give artists an opportunity to curate their own exhibitions, each in one room of the gallery. How did you approach this invitation?

Your proposal arrived just at the point at which I had already begun to make a careful analysis of the idea of personal space and a woman’s need for privacy and security. Being someone who spends the majority of their time in this personal space and operates best there, I was more interested in discovering the history this example of comfort and privilege had made for itself in society and social classes than in arguments about the stages through which primitive man had evolved.

Then I learned that the history of the boudoir begins in the early 1700s as a term that referred to a distinctly female space. As the exclusively male study cabinet already existed in almost every bourgeois house, the boudoir was most likely a woman initiative to also have a room of her own.  Its roots in the French verb bouder – meaning to sulk or pout – indicate that it was a gendered space that served as a refuge for women where they could be isolated, on the pretext that it gave them an opportunity for privacy. The association of this room with delicacy and privacy suggests that it was first intended as a place in which to feel, but turned out to be planned rather to sequester an unwanted mood.

The boudoir accommodated a variety of activities, being the space in which a woman could read and could prepare, bathe, dress and adorn herself. Later, during more liberal times, it was to become a place for clandestine meetings and sexual seduction.

Impelled by an impulse to make a collection of natural objects in their personal spaces, women gradually used them as places in which to construct their own universes. Therefore, the boudoir slightly became similar with a “cabinet of curiosities”.

The initial intention of the exhibition, which was to address the problematic relationship between artist, curator and gallery, suddenly took on a new level of interest when the lockdown came into effect. Being isolated in one’s own room was now no longer simply a working situation in a gallery but also a compulsory existential situation. What kind of influence did quarantine have on you as a person and as an artist?

The new circumstances imposed by the pandemic naturally brought certain fears with them but also had a beneficial effect. This may also have been a self-defence mechanism, but I found myself being far more concerned with what was closest to me, in my shell. When spending time by myself became more than a voluntary choice, I focused more on my relationship with my own body and feelings than I had done previously.

As I was already working on this project, it struck me as a happy accident of time that the new context put me in real-life situations that I had already begun to analyse from a theoretical perspective.

Lorena Maria Cocioni (1995, Constan╚Ťa) studied at the University of Art and Design, being a graduate of the Graphics department, bachelor and master degree. The artist is exploring the sense organs and anatomical parts that serve to transmit signals, starting from the way the body communicates with other life forms and the environment. She often uses the ritual component of everyday actions, such as washing, combing hair or taking care of the body. Her art is very versatile in terms of materials used, having works of ceramic, soap, feathers, metal and others, in an attempt to choose the best medium of expression.