While visiting the Onsernonese Museum, I was drawn to the portrait room with Carlo Agostino Meletta paintings, on the second floor. I noticed that under each figure is also painted the name and age of the person portrayed. This detail made me think of the “desire for eternity” inherent in human beings and the longing to leave a trace of oneself over the time. The fact that these portraits are kept in a museum with the purpose of preserving them from degradation is interesting to me. I wonder if everyone wishes to “preserve” themselves for as long as possible or, better to say, “forever.” I thought it would be tempting to give visitors the opportunity to have their own portrait kept in the museum for eternity, or as long as possible.
The performance began at 3 p.m. simultaneously with the performances of the other invited artists. The audience began to move around inside the museum spaces. I tried unsuccessfully to connect to the Internet to find a sound that would provide a backdrop for the performance: a soft but constant rustling. I gave up and started applying white drawing sheets to about ten frames. The plan was to fill them with visitors’ portraits and lay them on the wall. I wrote on two pieces of paper with a pink marker: “Portrait 5.-, postcard with your name 0.50.-.” Then I changed my mind, turned the cutouts over and wrote only, “PRESERVATION IN THE MUSEUM” and “PORTRAIT forever IN THE MUSEUM.”
I offered visitors the chance to have a portrait of themselves-or a postcard with their name and age-preserved “forever” in the museum. Some people were not convinced by the idea. Four people allowed themselves to be portrayed. The portrait time gave me a chance to lay my gaze on them and to be able to establish an human relationship, perceiving their particularities in a gentle and respectful way.
When I finished the portrait, and after showing it to the participant, I hung it on the wall with pink tape (unframed, unlike as planned) next to the Meletta paintings. In this way I was able to give a precarious and temporary character to the portrait, in contrast to the idea of eternity.
I commit myself to get in touch with the director of the Onsernonese Museum to arrange and officialize the conservation of the drawings in the museum’s archives.