Color photograph of the head and torso of a light skinned woman wearing a patterned blue blouse and smiling at the camera; she sits at a round table in front of a self containing bowls of fruit and a stack of books

Saskia K. Verlaan

Lily Auchincloss Rome Prize
5 settembre 2022–14 luglio 2023
PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, Graduate Center, City University of New York
Titolo del progetto
Between Drawing and Script: Asemic Writing by Feminist Artists in Italy 1968–1980
Descrizione del progetto

During the Italian women’s movement of the 1970s, language, perceived as the bastion of patriarchal hierarchy and control, proved a fertile medium for female creativity in the visual arts. My dissertation addresses “asemantic” or “asemic” drawings, which take on characteristics of writing but resist legibility, demanding a different kind of experience and performance of the “text.” Examining the work of Irma Blank, Dadamaino, Betty Danon, and Maria Lai, I analyze asemic writing as a semiotic, Italian-feminist, and immigrant project and argue for its distinctiveness in relationship to international practices of conceptual art. Furthermore, I read these works as a product of and critical response to the Italian neoavanguardia, which in the 1960s had fostered a culture of linguistic experimentation that challenged traditional culture and political power but failed to address—let alone advance—the cause of gender parity.