09.05 / 28.08 - 2009

Armida Gandini selected the concurrent showing of two of her videos Noli me tangere (2007) and Touch me (2007). Both works recall a specific dimension of touching and of being touched, developing Armida’s reflections of significant aspects of personal growth during the critical phases of childhood and youth in a unique and effective way. The artist widened the universe represented in the videos by introducing plexiglass hemispheres (Noli me tangere) and drawings on paper (Touch me). 

In Noli me tangere the main character appears in an indefinite white space. The initial girl’s bother from the external agents results in a real distress (fright?) that instinctively drives her to protect herself. Her feeling of neglect does not seem to weaken, on the contrary, it causes the alienation of the audience because the main character does not seem willing to move, but only to protect herself.

In a place without spatial coordinates, the flight would be useless: wherever you go you would lack the reference point needed to get oriented.  By running away, our status would not change because the elsewhere does not exist; after white there is white. The main character of this story feels that something is just about to happen prior to it occurring. She does not seem surprised, but wary. She looks around with circumspect …..as if she could feel the inevitability of what is about to happen and she comes into play. But if the game becomes dangerous it is necessary to learn how to protect ourselves. Each of us, in the face of life’s experiences, develops defense and protective mechanisms; at the end the coat represents a shell, but also a second skin, the mark of the past that develops our identity.

The representation of the shift in the stages of life is recurrent in all your work. You put particular attention on the senses, and specifically on touch.
In “Noli me tangere” the touch is somehow repulsive at first and then the carrier of danger. However the girl goes back to the “scene of the crime”.
Does touch assume the merit of moral growth, the defeat of a taboo (being untouched or rather our own “untouchability”)?

The thought that nothing could touch us is only an illusion: we are the people we meet, the relations that we establish with the world.
But contact is not always pleasant; anything could come from the spotless white of limbo: the inconvenience, the threat, the hostility, the suffering, the pain….and you cannot always avoid it.
It is probably because of these that the girl goes back to the “scene of the crime”, also because she feels revealed, vulnerable, powerless…..let them reveal themselves and then we will see.

There is a clear reference to Hitchcock in the way you carried out the birds’ assault on the main character. Why did you decide to mention and revisit “The Birds”, including in the use of special effects and to apply it in your work?

Film is my biggest passion.  It is my way of escaping to a dimension of “untouchability”. Hitchcock is the author of my enthrallment. He introduced me to a new world when I was a child through Marnie, acted by Tippi Hedren, who in the end is the same main character of “The Birds”. In this movie I particularly like the fact that danger comes from ordinary birds, not from birds of prey, meaning that we need to be aware of  everyday life events, and that the attacks become more and more serious. But above all, I like that the movie is clearly an intellectual work, a metaphor.

The graphic elements which interact in the video transfer the mental dimension of your story, they seem like brush-strokes born to guard a secret. You decided to end your work with a still frame, in which your main character appears again with a white background and covered by a coat drawn over her. What is she waiting for now?

She is waiting for other adventures, other birds, but they could be wolves or panthers. What will happen is irrelevant, but what is relevant is the state of waiting and encounter that the girl finds her herself in, similar to the previous state, but with more experience.   I recall when I was a child and I experienced feelings of inadequacy: new things seemed big and insurmountable and my dad tried to cheer me up by saying that even I had grown to face them.....I like this cyclical idea of walking to get back to the starting point, every time with something more.

In “Touch me” the contact is transformed in something that is strongly longed for. Your work leads one to reflect on the reasons behind the denial of an innate need. Why did you decide to not show the consequences of this denial, and to only show its cruelty?

In general, my work asks questions without giving answers or suggestions. For me going to the roots of things means trying to become aware of it: the consequences of the lack of love reveal themselves differently. Each of us reacts by trigging defense mechanisms that cannot be generalized and I do not want to depict specific and defined situations, but open ones.

“Noli me Tangere” and “Touch me” talk about two parallel universes, situations on both sides of the mirror. What allows them to be born side by side? Where is their meeting point?

I am interested in the other side of the coin, the opportunity to look at the same thing from different perspectives; because it expresses broadmindedness, confrontation. The fear of being affected by inerasable marks of life’s events also implies its opposite, the need of contact interpreted as mutual love.  
If in Noli me tangere the girl screens herself for protection, in Touch me the child touches in order to be touched, in order to show her presence and her need to be loved. Nothing nourishes like love, nothing is as devastating as to be unloved. Her intent is to shift from the indifference, because an interaction and a relation could be born through the touching gesture. 

Armida Gandini - Noli Me Tangere

Armida Gandini - Noli Me Tangere


Born 1968 in Brescia (IT).
Lives and works in Italy.

Website: www.armidagandini.it

Armida Gandini - Noli me tangere

Armida Gandini - Touch Me

On Screening:
Noli Me Tangere (dvd, 6'40'', 2007)
Touch Me (3 dvd, 4'36'', 2007)

Selected Films:
La Boulangere de Monceau (Eric Rohmer 1963)
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock 1963)
Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock 1964)


Curated by Marco Nember.
Developed in collaboration with
the Italian Institute of Culture in
Amsterdam between May 2009
and September 2013.