LIANE~LINEA~ALIEN. Conversation between Giulia Tognon and Dafne Boggeri

18 May 2017

Dafne Boggeri, Hijack Ritual n.6, 2017
photographic print, 30 x 40cm
Image courtesy: Dafne Boggeri


Giulia Tognon in conversation with Dafne Boggeri on the occasion of her new project for Marsèlleria, LIANE~LINEA~ALIEN. The rest of the interview is published here.


Giulia Tognon: Your work exceeds the limits of the visual arts and fits spontaneously into a history of queer artistic practices from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. What is your emotional but also aesthetic and political relationship to experiences and projects like the feminist genderqueer artist collective LTTR? Your video Fat/Soft/Normal/Skinny (2007) was included into one of their film programs and eventually in their show at Tensta Kontshall in 2015.

Dafne Boggeri: Between 2000 and 2004 I was part of Pornflakes Queer Crew, collective base in Milan that gathered around a word  that at the time was unknown to many but that we hoped would embrace and love us all. With this heterogeneous and extravagant group we worked intensely on opening paths for a dialogue with society in the space of the party: our slogan was strategic frivolousness, playful resistance! We collaborated, among others, with the first Italian zine that treated gender issues in a serious manner, Speed Demon di Flavio Magnani, with the Fag Off! festival in Rome with Francesco ‘Bear’ Palmieri and Giulia Vallicelli, with the Dj sets for Le Tigre and Lesbian On Ecstasy.

I found out about LTTR in the early days of the internet. We were separated by geographical distance but we shared many references and aspirations. As a ritual I started participating in all of their open calls and I got always rejected until I was finally selected for the video program The Dead, The Absent and the Fictitious. The existence of a platform dedicated in such a flexible project-oriented way to those issues was a source of great energy. In 2005 at Careof in Milan, I eventually had the chance to organise the presentation of PILOT TV from Chicago, with video works from many of the contributors of LTTR: Ulrike Muller, Marriage, Emily Roysdon, K8 Hardy e Wynne Greenwood (Tracy And The Plastics), A.K.Burns, Wu Tsang, Math Bass.


G.T.: Going back to the activities of Pornflakes, was there a feeling of appropriation of the American queer experiences? What came out of the local context?

D.B.: The collective was born out of a desperate search for oxygen and for confirmations that we were not alone in our obsessions. The primary question was and is: is there anyone out there? Then the efforts to create a network and to gain a certain visibility gave the project its local shape. But compared to the anglo-american scenes, we felt we were missing the human and cultural references and the historical traces of a local community that preceded us. Despite some great examples – the crucial political battles of Mario Mieli and the exceptional documentation by Lisetta Carmi – our need was more modest: we were looking for someone who, at the bar or walking around the city, would share with us stories, or anecdotes to calm down our ‘fever’.

FULL MOON SALOON , #4 episode with Molly Nilsson’s live concert, O’ non profit space, Milan, 2012


G.T.: Emily Roysdon, talking about the queer community gathered around LTTR, says: ‘LTTR was an energy given form in collaboration, community organising, explicit discourse, journal making and distribution. […] If you showed up to an event, submitted to an open call—you were a part of it. Your desire was enough’ . Do you think this ‘desire’ – to be part of a community or to activate it – is always enough?

D.B.: Desire is always the fundamental impulse. In all of my projects crossing curating, the artistic result I am interested in exploring is mostly related to the potential human sculpture inhabiting the spaces. I first tried with MOTHER (2009-2011), a festival created with Noga Inbar in three editions (Tel Aviv, London, Berlin) and extended for the project Chewing the Scenery in the Swiss Pavillon at the 54° Venice Biennial. In Milan this search took the form of FULL MOON SALOON (2012), project hosted by Spazio O’ for which a small community gathered regularly for a year following the moon calendar, and TRAMONTO (2014) organised in collaboration with musician Adele H, where invited people to sit with us through the chromatic variations of light at the end of the day, on the ‘natural’ stage of the overpass Bussa in Milan, line of demarcation between the ‘Isola’ neighborhood and the new area of real estate speculation.

TRAMONTO, Dafne Boggeri in collaboration with Adele H, series of 6 cite-specific encounters, documentation, Bussa overpass (Isola district) Milano, 2014


TRAMONTO, Dafne Boggeri in collaboration with Adele H, series of 6 site-specific encounters, documentation, Bussa overpass (Isola district) Milano, 2014



G.T.: A large part of your practice consists of forwarding invitations to other artists, musicians, performers. On the occasion of residencies and shows you often invite them to share a stage, a degree of visibility. This was also one of the conditions of existence of LIANE~LINEA~ALIEN. Is it a critique to the artist as author or a need to create connections?

D.B.: It’s a fusion of these perspectives. For the opening of the exhibition I was determined to bring in the performance groups Stasis to see how people with solid internal codes and dynamics would interpret the space of Marsèlleria through movement only perceptible through sound. Also the evening of screenings hosted by Cinema Beltrade was born out of the desire to put in relation Marsèlleria and another space with a strong identity, hoping to open trajectories between these physical and symbolic coordinates. The whole evening was an occasion to give voice and visibility and to create a temporary intergenerational platform for the experiences and fictional worlds of Donna Haraway and Lizzie Borden.


G.T.: How did you mediate between the influences coming from abroad and an activity deeply rooted in Milan?

D.B.: I come from an area – south Piemonte – that for a few years now has hosted the largest designer outlet in Europe, where the limitations of the shopping mall often match the human ones. I was never forced to comply with any ‘traditional’ system and my culture could be easily located miles away from where I grow up. This dichotomy and the continuous questioning of cultural appropriation define me, like the lines on the motorway and the railway, just before the river. Growing up in the periphery I was probably more driven to intercept trajectories and to cross them, and even though sometimes the formal openings didn’t translate into a real inclusion and the desire faded, this always transformed into a different kind of awareness. The feeling of non-belonging is the central theme of a book I love, Black Boy by Richard Wright.

G.T.: You’ve never been represented by a commercial gallery and you ofter collaborate with no-profit spaces. Are you happy with your position vis-à-vis the art world or do you imagine a different direction for the future?

D.B.: In a cultural scene in which I often feel isolated, I’d be happy to keep finding new allies for new adventures. I think we need sustainable programmes to manage spaces for artists’ studios or dance and music rehearsals, public archives of private materials that too often is dispersed leaving behind patchy traces of realities that are marginal but essential to make sense of our present and future. We need the support of key figures devoted to a form cultural anthropology committed to mapping, analysing and building the links between artistic manifestations in the long term.


G.T.: Have you ever considered an academic education?

D.B.: Not until recently. I was somehow more attracted to the idea of destruction. But recently I’ve been thinking more about instruction, as if I was slowly domesticating myself. I’d like to go back to school in a non-institutional setting where experiences are shared in an honest way. It’s a reverse trajectory that was probably influenced by the encounter, through artist Elena Radice, with the practice of attention of the group Estar(Ser).


G.T.: In 2007 you attended the Mountain School of Arts – unconventional art school founded in 2005 in L.A by artists Piero Golia and Eric Wesley. How was it?

D.B.: At the beginning I was sceptical but curator Sonia Campagnola encouraged me to apply and to prepare myself by reading City of Quartz by Mike Davis, that helped me survive the initial shock. They were three intense months and with the group from the MSA^ we had the opportunity to meet Simone Forti – who read her poems breaking into pieces in front of us moments before beginning a body contact session – and Kenny Sharf – who had been close to the late curator, critic and academic from Bologna Francesca Alinovi, who in the 1980s explored the artistic scene of street writing in NYC. She was the first one to write about Rammelzee, incredible artist, musician, performer and theorists who, with Vaughn Bodé e Skah (Venetorican Rider), was hugely influential for me both personally and as a writer. From the time in L.A. I also remember the various detours in the queer bars of the city, some of which I discovered and introduced to a community of local artists that would have made them part of their work, like the Silver Platter founded in 1963 by Rogelo Ramirez. Thanks to the MSA^ I also visited the original location of the Black Pussy installation by Jason Rhoades, a place with a psychomagic aura, where I am sure I must have stolen something. You know I always steal things from exhibitions, I have a collection at home.


G.T.: Are you hoping something will be stolen from your show at Marsèlleria?

D.B.: Yes, it already happened and it was beautiful. The final result is always the opposite of the initial gesture! It was on the occasion of an installation I did at the Galleria Civica di Trento in 2007 where someone stole a copy of the dyke zine KUTT by Jessica Gysel, project that has evolved into Girls Like Us magazine, which unfortunately was the only exemplary I had. I like to imagine that behind this episode were the spirits of Jean Genet and Violet Leduc who, frantically running across the spaces of the Galleria, found the perfect object of their desire.

RELAX, IT’S ONLY ME, Dafne Boggeri and Sonja Cvitkovic, site-specific installation, mixed materials, Los Angeles, 2007


The project LIANE~LINEA~ALIEN runs until 26 May 2017 at Marsèlleria in Milan. On Friday 19 May 2017, 6-10pm – Paauw. Sound Performance by Tisana (Dafne Boggeri, Adele H, Isamit Morales) In collaboration with Babakoto, Hazina, Elena Radice.