#TeleMuseion #MuseionCalling: Interview with Anna Oberto

Anna Oberto, Cérémonie pour Adèle H. Istituto Centrale per la Grafica Roma 2018. Foto Sebastiano Luciano

In our third MuseionCalling event, artist Anna Oberto (b. Ajaccio, 1934), one of the main exponents of Italian visual poetry, answers our questions. Her work is currently on display in the exhibition: Intermedia. Archivio di Nuova Scrittura.


“… /e si trovano molti compagni di strada / ma se non si ha paura / la piazza viene verso di noi”
by Anna Oberto, Scritture d’amore / Diario.
Rituale. Seduzione” (1980-’82-’84)


Where are you at the moment?

I’m in Genoa, where I live.

And what is your experience of this situation?

I think my experience can be divided in two. At a practical level, my movements haven’t changed at all.
I have so much work to do on exhibitions, collaborations and publications that, for years now, I’ve only been going out of the house for basic necessities, like shopping and urgent errands, like the chemist. Which is exactly what I’m allowed to do now, apart from the work trips, of course.

But at an emotional level, I miss my friends, because I can’t see or invite them round, and I miss meeting people at exhibitions in town. I’m still in touch with people, though, from other towns and countries too, via phone and email. I don’t like skype, because I have my limits with regard to technology!

My trip to Harvard University in Boston was cancelled. I had been invited there by Professor Dalila Coluccito to give a lesson on Italian visual poetry. They had planned everything, including a meeting with the public and an interview. They’d bought the plane tickets, too.

But obviously this is nothing compared to the suffering of the sick, the incredible self-sacrifice of our doctors, nurses, hospital staff, GPs and ambulance drivers, who in some cases have even died, and the visible anguish of the governors and mayors in the worst hit areas.

Writing to my friend and colleague, the poet Mario Diacono to say that I was sorry we wouldn’t be meeting – he lives in Boston, so I had asked Harvard to invite him too, but perhaps the events will simply be moved to the Autumn – we ended up remembering the second world war that both of us lived through. We agreed that if we had survived that, which in my experience involved being buried alive in shelter tunnels that were bilge pumps of infection and disease, we would survive this war too.

I realise that, even if it is perhaps a little reckless, I am facing this new biblical scourge relatively calmly, and that is, without doubt, because of my experience of the war. We were fortified to the point that we have never since been afraid of any of the other tragedies that life inevitably presents everyone with.

–  In my first three performances, “Scritture d’amore / Diario. Rituale. Seduzione” (1980-’82-’84), I wrote these words:
“… scrittura al femminile / scrittura come vita / vita come rapporto / con sé e con gli altri / scrittura della donna / più amata e praticata / il diario la lettera d’amore / scritture d’amore / rifondazione dell’etica / rifondazione del linguaggio / la valeur des rapports humains / la vie est le rapport / l’utopia è possibile / e si trovano molti compagni di strada / ma se non si ha paura / la piazza viene verso di noi”.

Can you recommend any books, articles, activities or music?

Recommended books: Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body.
by Riane Eisler  Harper, 1996 and Le uova del drago, by Pietrangelo Buttafuoco, Oscar Mondadori
Recommended music: Antonio Vivaldi Concerto for Mandolin in C Major and Richard Wagner Tristan und Isolde. Prelude & Love Death