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The camera opens up a view of the courtly rooms of Palais Sternberg in Vienna - grand staircases, suites of rooms, Baroque stucco work, parquet floors in geometric patterns - where a number of women from different geographical backgrounds pursue seemingly useless and unproductive activities. They look out of the window, lie bored on the divan or sit silently around a table as if they were victims of a spell or would voluntarily practice artificial passivity. Others lie on the floor or secretly glide along the walls of the palace, trying in vain to play the piano. The dimension of time seems to be non-existent and at the same time stretched and suspended, changed, who knows, by a secret spell that forces the women to stay in the Palais for a longer period of time. A total aphasia dominates the sequence of images that hover between forced inactivity and voluntary and reluctant uncertainty, as in Herman Melville's novella Bartleby, the Scrivener, who always repeats I would prefer not to at every request to fulfill his work duties, thus showing that it is precisely in inactivity that the most radical revolutionary and subversive gesture can be hidden.
Does the behavior of the women now conceal a compelling inactivity or rather the nonchalance of a conscious decision to self-negation? The decisive and most alienating element that seems to force all the actions of the video's protagonists into an absurd distortion are the fake noses consisting of ice cream wafers put on top of each other. Like tentacles or additional limbs, they restrict the perception of the women and their movements, become the visual center of the scene and prove to be weapons of attack, lances that break in the final climax around a table. At that moment the magic breaks and the will is freed, the protagonists can break out of the seclusion of the palace and finally get to know themselves.
Pinocchia, don't lie to me! seems to sum up the feeling of distress and its overcoming, the dimension of deception as fictitiousness and the call to overcome it in order to regain a real sense of reality. For Sissa Micheli, the long nose is a means full of allusions, a paradigm for fears and compulsions, falsehoods and revelations (clearly also the reference to Carlo Collodis Pinocchio) between good and evil, education as confusion and rebirth in the complex process of the formation of the self.
In this respect, the transformation and alienation scenes of Pinocchia, don't lie to me! refer to a tradition that is much older than it first seems. The nose-like ice cream waffles - partly symbolic and partly phallic and biting archetypes - seem to pick up on the far-back Roman and Italic carnivals and Saturnalia, where permissiveness and role reversal allowed for temporary upheavals of the social order and surprising glorifications of otherness. In the culture of Rome and Lazio, this was especially true of the Fescennines, the canvas of spectacles performed to celebrate the harvest and at the same time to ward off the evil eye, evoking the ambiguous power of the Fascinum, the male member as a symbol of stability and guarantee. With a further leap in time in the meanings and interpretations, it would be conceivable that the waffles could have a subtle feminist effect on the face and body of the female protagonists, who are all female. Thus, the final scene with the waffles destroyed by knocks against the table appears as the peak of a rebellion in which the women finally free themselves from the fascination of masculinity symbolism in which they were trapped and regain their independence. The shameless glorification of the female body, the compulsive applause of advertising marketing, the corporate and masculine culture of profit and populism in politics thus appear to be symbolized by the waffles: male deceptions that have now been smashed; in this way the artist shows her intention to bring a new era of freedom to the fore. Thus, between playfulness and tragedy, farce and mockery, Sissa Micheli, with her poetics of Ice Cream & Politics, provides an apt, thoroughly female portrait of an unexplored and possible, secular, ironic and deeply desired authenticity.
  Luigi Fassi



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