In 1790, while serving in the Piedmontese army, the French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852) was sentenced to house arrest in Turin for forty-two days, for dueling. It was during this interval that he wrote, Voyage Around My Room (1794), an eighty-page récit1 which Susan Sontag descri- bed as ‘one of the most original and mettlesome autobiographical narratives ever written.’ A proto-Perecian work of interior exploration, the text pro- vides a leitmotif for the exhibition.
The origin of Voyage Around My Room is Beasley’s interest in Casa Mol- lino, an apartment in Turin which Carlo Mollino, a Turinese architect, de- signer and photographer, bought in 1960 and spent the remaining years of his life decorating. He never lived in the apartment; it was intended as a kind of afterlife tomb. For Beasley, the apartment offered a very rich, three-dimensional space through which to think more deeply about her existing interests in photography, colour and interiors.
Voyage Around My Room is a book which Mollino knew and appreciated. Its precocious self-reflexivity and unpredictability, reminiscent of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, would clearly have appealed to Mollino’s own flamboyant literary style. Its use of deviation produces a fragmentary rea- ding experience in which the ‘qualities of consciousness are recessive, and ope- rate in flashes, in explosions of insight.”
This curated exhibition explores these explosions of insights and provides a generous context in which the boundaries of all of the works included may become elaborated and expanded. The room is of course a very human construction. Voyage Around My Room is intended as an experience through which the possibilities of these spaces are explored.
To my surprise, a single polaroid by Mollino unexpectedly became the axis around which the exhibition, in its unbounded entirety, orbits.
1 A récit is a dramatic monologue in prose, actively concerned with the problematics of narrative and authorship. 2 Richard Howard, Introduction to Voyage Around My Room, New Directions Books, New York, 1994, p. XI