Sottogiudecca, the new contemporary space in Reggio Calabria, presents ‘Ludo Via’: a solo exhibition of the artist Elisa Schiavina, curated by Marta Toma and Giulia Toma.

Elisa Schiavina is an emerging artist based in Milan, who introduces the ludic device as a tool of exploration and interaction, by an approach that can be traced back to her studies in Psychology and the pedagogical professional experience, as “games but not toys”. These iconic walking carousels, made by scraps of fabric and salvaged elements, float in the space like extended painting: iridescent in light and soft in touch, these objects put on a ‘playground’ which looks like a safe place (home/tent/hut) in perpetual motion (merry-go-round/circle/roundabout).

“Does a roundabout always make a song, or does the song make the roundabout? Certainly the chasing of some cats with some mouse with some snakes and again with some cats, looks like a roundabout to me. Fall the world, fall the earth (but not always).” E. Schiavina

‘Ludo Via’ is conceived as a Bildungsroman ante litteram, occurring inside a park of forbidden amusement.  The réclame of a joyful circus setting, shows a colourful tent suspended on a giant ribbon pink, while a flirty cat-woman appears ‘catching a hula-hoop.’ The scene is surrounded all around by a big snake with a forked tongue, a palingenetic symbol (πάλιν-γένεσις, ‘arising again’) of the inexhaustible energy of the Universe, but also a sign of possible traps and temptations. This journey of knowledge, apparently easy to access, hides a complex symbolic plot. The unengaging delight is a delight permissible only in the garden of childhood, when boredom, curiosity, and excitement, encourage the exploration of instincts through fantasy. In adulthood, the ‘free play’ understood as amusement, caprice, solace, is conventionally considered frivolous and unedifying. If it’s true that the eternal struggle between Eros and Thanatos is always linked to the lust for power, what could happen if adults were able to stem their deepest urges by this way?

According to Lacan’s theories, pleasure as enjoyment – a maximum density of possession – cannot exist outside of the body enjoying itself, the only meaning and signifier. The concept of divertissement as desire satisfaction, finds place in the storytelling of a childish and joyful spirit, who discovers the body as sex-toy. In the Polaroid series, the artist uses a frontal, direct and explicit shooting, softened by a mixture of honey watercolours. In these humid atmospheres, puberal bodies blossom in a flux of emotions, at the forefront of a palpitating, edulcorated autoeroticism. Feelings not yet ripe, as tender as a case full of highlighters, blend into a leitmotif of little hearts, stars, girandoles, and water guns, which runs across the frames of polaroids like the lacework of a trimmings and evokes the delicate lingerie. “When I tattooed a water-gun I still wasn’t thinking about war, still wasn’t thinking about you,” is a declaration (of love/war?) delivered by the sign of belonging to this subversive role play.

The Historiated Water Guns are a romantic metamorphosis of amphorae and decorated vases, that elevates the object to a fetish. A celebration of the generative water’s power (and of corporal fluids by extension) that disarm the concept of weapon as medium of destruction. This imaginative, ironic, and irreverent narrative dimension is present in the libertine and light-hearted version of the Book for Adults: a tactile and sensorial work, which the artist packages to be caressed and unveiled in the small alcove set up in the project room. In this world of fantasy, a little bit juvenile and a little bit animalier, day by day, game by game, the paradigm of life is staged with a playful and joyful approach, without judgment of morality. (texts by Marta Toma)


Elisa Schiavina (PV, 1992) – Experimental visual artist, lives and works in Milan.

After a classical education in Alessandria and a degree in Psychology at the University of Pavia, she moved to Milan where she undertook a two-year painting course at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts studying alongside artist Marco Cingolani.

In his work she uses painting, sculpture, and installation as tools for the investigation of physical and emotional reality, with a particular focus on all that remains childlike in adulthood and what, conversely, during childhood has to do with the adult world.

Recent exhibitions include: the group show ‘Glances II’ at Galleria Lorenzelli Arte (Milan, 2022) and Frankfurter Westend Galerie (Frankfurt am Main, 2022); the group show ‘Good Luck Rebels’ organized by Osservatorio Futura in collaboration with Lunetta11, in which he carried out the commission of a site-specific intervention for the Municipality of San Benedetto Belbo (Cuneo, 2022);  the solo show ‘Per Ecuba’ at Spazio E_EMME (Cagliari, 2023); the group show ‘Summer Storm’ at Galleria Giovanni Bonelli (Milan, 2023); the attendance at Biennolo show titled ‘Talitha Kum’ (Rise Maiden) and curated by Giacinto di Pietrantonio (Milan, 2023).

Last year she was included in the volume “222 emerging artists to invest in / 2024” published by Exibart, the report on the most interesting names of the contemporary art market in Italy.


27 Apr, 24
22 Jun, 24
Elisa Schiavina
Marta Toma, Giulia Toma
Via Giudecca 23, Reggio Calabria RC - ITALY
Arte Toma