Custodita e repressa/ Under custody and repressed, 1975

Clemen Parrocchetti, Assemblage, embroidery, spools and pins on metal, 51 × 51 × 7.5 cm

The Italian artist Clemen Parrocchetti (1923-2016) was an active participant in the feminist liberation movement in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, a period that is still considered one of the most heated moments in the country’s history in the fight for women’s suffrage. This translated into a strong visual grammar in the materials of domestic labor – needles, spools, bobbins, cooking utensils, medicaments, textiles – repurposed into the subversive tools of denunciation and protest.

By using such “modest materials”, drawn from the confines of feminine domesticity, Parrocchetti critiqued and contested female subjugation and objectification. Within a plexiglass case, which represents for the artist the restrictions women often faced at home, a tower of severed foam-filled fabric lips stacked on top of each other. Within Parrocchetti’s oeuvre, lips are understood as a symbol for the unleashing of women’s protest in the face of oppression. Plexiglass cases, as seen in this work, also became a common feature shared with many of her sculptures, referenced one as symbol of the confinement of the home experienced many women at the time.