“A mature work that illustrates how the saying ‘Per aspera ad astra’ can often apply to art: Flora Deborah tackles the extreme conditions we are all living in through a stark, poignant and intense artistic performance in search of our most intimate identity, to find out who we really are in order to be truly ‘free’.” Sabino Maria Frassà
“The Synonym of Why” (original name in Italian (Il sinonimo di perché) is the last performance by the Italian-Israeli artist Flora Deborah, who was shortlisted for the Premio Cramum in 2016. The quarantine and the somewhat extreme conditions we are living in are the underlying themes of this – still ongoing – performance started by the artist when she returned to Milan at the beginning of March, catching the very last flight from Tel Aviv where she has been living for several years, in order to be close to her family during the coronavirus quarantine.
The work of this artist usually involves a fusion of sculpture and performance, but in Milan she found herself with neither materials nor media. In the words of the curator Sabino Maria Frassà, who was fortunate enough to be the first to discover this work: “After her installation I’m too old to float, presented by Ventura Centrale last year as part of the exhibition Una stanza tutta per me (A room of my own), Flora Deborah once again reflects on our identity. Il sinonimo di perché (The synonym of why) is a coherent and mature work that shows how the saying ‘Per aspera ad astra’ can often apply to art, where Flora Deborah reacts to the extreme conditions we are all living in through a stark, poignant and intense artistic performance in search of our most intimate identity, to find out who we really are in order to be truly ‘free’. In this work, she has stripped away all the frills, leaving a bare, enigmatic essence, with stirring references as much to life – the egg – as to hospitals – the tubes – and death – salt. For several weeks now, the artist has been reflecting through gestures upon what is truly important in life. The answer is not so easy to find as it means searching for that synonym, that sometimes unattainable essence, based on a reflection upon our own family and all those identity-building bonds that create our fragile ‘Self’.”