Bonus Track by Pia

I also have a bonus track, because I don’t think you put the work in the text when you describe your artistic practice as intertwined with you relationship-practice, did you? Otherwise I would have put it there. It’s about Carla Lonzi, and her relationship to Consagra, a male artist. I got it from e-flux, sorry haha
(from We Are All Clitoridian Women: Notes on Carla Lonzi’s Legacy, Claire Fontaine, 2013)

In her diagnosis of the situation, it is tempting to compare her position to the position of the artist confronted by the professional apparatus: women, she explains, haven’t rebelled against the myth of society because even in their private lives they are still crushed, unrealised, oppressed. They cannot even reach the doorstep of life with sufficient stability, because they start with a handicap. They look for love and a relationship with a male partner, but this relationship will only take place in a way that reinforces the partner, helps him to face the world from a stronger position. A woman’s need for love was indeed created by patriarchy to help men succeed in life. Women give love an independent value, while men give it an instrumental one. “And then men,” she writes, “recuperate this love as an absolute value in the arts, in poetry, in the artworks that live and grow through these non-relationships. Therefore men, after preventing [women] from living love, offer to them its symbol as an object.

What is interesting in this dialogue is that Consagra, as a man, seems to embody the artwork and its professional values, while Lonzi embodies a desire for radicalism, a need to unmask the violence of productive dynamics, and the possibility of living a life without a frame, a life that questions itself and intensifies itself without hiding behind obligations, habits, opportunism—a life that is, in fact, truly an artwork. By the end of the book, farewells have become inevitable. Lonzi says:

I don’t know how to name it. We eat lunch with the feeling that you have to go to the studio, you come back in the evening with the feeling that you must recharge your batteries and in the morning you are off to the studio again … Even when we are at Elba Island [on holiday], you don’t want to go climbing on the rocks, because you want to work on a drawing, on a project, on something, and you accuse me of stealing time from your work. You give me the remainder of your time in the afternoon. We don’t walk around the island, we don’t take walks, we meet people only and exclusively for work, we have restricted the world for ourselves to the people that are interested in your work, whoever they are, clever people or idiots, but it is the work that counts. You must understand that our whole life is structured by work, all of it, that we are never together for ourselves. It’s just a pause, a rest from work. The vital, conscious, and active moment, the promised land is work … You don’t have a schedule, you don’t have a job, you don’t have obligations, but you create a more constraining situation than if you had a job and a boss.

Consagra then responds: Then you make a program for life, you make the program. In this remark, all the tragedy unfolds: Lonzi needs to escape from the very logic of the program, she doesn’t want to internalise obligations and organise a plan. She tells Consagra how all this makes her feel desperate, and in the last lines of the book she asks: Do you understand me? Consagra answers: For sure. Then she says: Now you can go.