Lavinia Xausa

Singular – Choral

Love is all that can still be betrayed.
Andrea Pazienza

What is it that you love unconditionally?

Answering this question is not easy, because along with the verb to love there is the adverb unconditionally, which shifts the thinking to what we are willing to sacrifice for that love. To love unconditionally is not “simply” to love, but to love by being willing to override whatever conditions this love entails, be they internal conditions or caused by external situations.

In the broadest sense, love moves all our actions with all its nuances and facets, obsession, passion, physicality, thought, sacrifice, hatred. And love is often precisely the continuous search for a balance between all these emotions. Perhaps because of its need to always be in balance, love is everything that can be betrayed, because by our nature it is very difficult for us to maintain a balance towards who we are, who we would like to be, and who we are asked to be.

To love unconditionally already shifts this balance because it presupposes a radicalism of the actions that the verb to love produces inside and outside of us, thus changing the reflection of our image in society and its impact on the social relationships we entertain.

Roundabout Love; Nowhere, Now, Here; and So Loud The Sky Can Hear Us by Lavinia Xausa, are three films, made with three different film techniques, which represent love as a sense of belonging and investigate the social representations that derive from different ways of experiencing love. The artist continuously reflects on the sacred and the profane and how the themes and narratives of one are reflected in the other.

Roundabout Love is filmed in Tehran where love is a matter of state and where the singular is always sacrificed for the common image imposed from above. How does one escape from the control of the moral police? How do we carve out a space in which we can unconditionally love who we want? The cockpit of a car represents, for young people, that space of salvation where they can be who they want, where they can love who they want. Through an urban nomadism that is a metaphor for the impossibility of putting down roots and “staying”, the voices of the protagonists speak of singularities that try to escape an imposed choral image.

Nowhere, Now, Here, in the words of the artist “plays with the juxtaposition of secular and Christian archetypes”. Xausa here uses a completely different film technique to the previous video, using archive material found on the net. The juxtaposition of images of women leaving their homeland in search of salvation in the old continent, jarringly juxtaposed with images of alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary, venerated by the faithful, questioning the notion of “pietas” and compassion.

The series closes with So Loud The Sky Can Hear Us in which the artist uses yet another narrative technique, that of the documentary, to talk about singularities that dissolve into the chorus of stadium chanting. Scratching the surface of the unison sound produced by the fans at the stadium, we are confronted with a humanity in search of itself, of people who are confronted daily with their problems and with the definition of their being, in a constant balancing act between personal identity and collective identity driven by the love for their football team.

These three videos attempt in some way to give voice to social groups that are not properly represented by society because of the radical actions they take to satisfy their unconditional love; be it a love for a beau or a son or a football team. It is not the subject that makes the love more or less worthy of being experienced unconditionally, but rather what makes our approach to it worthwhile.

In the words of John Berger:

                «When in love, the sight of the beloved has a completeness which no words and no embrace can match: a completeness which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate»[1]

Love is thus represented by an act that burns and eventually consumes us but, at the same time, restores a sense of belonging, perhaps the strongest sense of belonging we can experience, it all depends on how much we are willing to sacrifice.

Stefano Romano

[1] John Berger, Questione di sguardi. Sette inviti al vedere fra storia dell’arte e quotidianità; Milano, il Saggiatore 2022

Photo documentation of the event: Amarda Rrapo