Unfinished Museum

Il pozzo delle donne

The Women’s Well

Bianca Maria Bordone, 2016, Turin
  • Bianca Maria Bordone
  • 2016
  • Projects - Unfinished to unblock
  • a sleepless night after a fight with her boyfriend, "Letter to women" by Natalia Ginzburg, 2 photographs of the Quinta da Regaleria well in Sintra (Portugal), sad pages from the artist's diaries
  • 003/2020
  • A folder with 5 files, a paper A4, years of journals
  • Bianca Maria Bordone

“The idea of ​​the Women’s Well was born in July 2016. I was in Lisbon to exhibit another work, entitled “Destroy this diary in Paris”. After a late-night fight with my boyfriend – we were staying in a curious contemporary art gallery that offered a guest room – I went to the kitchen and came across on my mobile phone screen an essay by Natalia Ginzburg called “Letter to women”. She wrote precisely about that imaginary well into which we all, all us women, fall several times in life, because we feel inadequate, it is something that sucks us into an abyss, into a chasm. It struck me a lot.

“The other day an article I had written immediately after the liberation came into my hands and I was a little disappointed. It was quite stupid: that article of mine was about women in general, and it said things that are known, it said that women are not so much worse than men and they can do something good too if they put themselves into it, if society helps them, and so on. But it was stupid because I didn’t care to fully understand how women really were: the women I was talking about then were made up women, not at all similar to me or to the women I happened to meet in my life; just as I was talking about it, it seemed very easy to get them out of slavery and make them free beings. And instead I had neglected to say something very important: that women have the bad habit of falling into a well every now and then, of letting themselves be taken by a terrible melancholy and drowning in it, and gasping to get back to the surface: this is the real trouble of women.

(The Italian version is from: Letter to women, Natalia Ginzburg (c) 2016 Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a, Turin. All rights reserved. Translation by UMus)

A few days later I went to visit the park of Quinta da Regaleira, in Sintra, and in particular I was fascinated by one of the two wells dug in a spiral in the ground, the hub of mysterious rites. So it was then, that I came up with the idea of ​​associating the two in some way and creating a work of art. The idea was to create a well with the photo of the original walls inside and the Ginzburg writing on the outside. I had imagined to put copies of sad pages of my diaries crumpled up inside the well during the exhibition, and with sheets and pens available for visitors who would be invited to write an unpleasant memory or a painful situation they wanted to get rid of.

Back from vacation I started working on it, I put together notes and ideas, I did some research to find the material to make this well. I wanted to use plexiglass, something that could be illuminated from inside. But nothing satisfied me. In the autumn I did the drawing of the work, then I worked on something else, every now and then, in recent years, it came back as an idea but I never completed it. I would like to see it three-dimensional and finished one day, even with materials other than those I had initially imagined. For example with embroidered sheets. It could also be implemented as a workshop, as a collective or participatory work … a mutual complicity and support between women.

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