Giovanna Maria Casetta’s Looking Good is, in many ways, about what things look like: what illness can look like, what art can look like. Looking Good continues Casetta’s explorations into the idea, and the lived reality, of the exterior and interior self. Working across the mediums of performance, installation and, increasingly, film, Casetta’s practice employs her own body as her site, material and subject to reveal the tensions between our public and private identities and our revealed and hidden selves.
In considering the exterior and interior self, her work is often concerned with the notion of surfaces and the borders between things. In performative film projects such as Movie Premiere she has looked at the ways in which the glamorous surface, or superficial beauty, of, for example, the film star tends to determine society’s readings and expectations of identity, and how that perceived identity can be at odds with lived realities. In live performances such as Blood-Letting 5 — Encapsulation she has literally drawn (on) her own blood to look at the idea of the skin as a surface between our outer and inner selves and how bodies “can be tailor-made to that which is most desired through clothing, cosmetics, exercise, diet or even surgery. However, what is under the skin cannot be altered and will betray one's true self.”
In Looking Good Casetta furthers these enquiries into perceptions and understandings of mental illness: how it is possible to “look good” when you are desperately ill, and how “a disease so hidden is more often than not met with a refusal to be acknowledged as the appearance of the Exterior Self can remain unaltered”.
The piece works with the possibilities of performance, film, time and place to construct a complex, experiential work of art that exists somewhere between an embodied event and a filmic installation: a territory Casetta is increasingly making her own.
Lois Keidan, Live Art Development Agency.