CuratorSpace Artist Bursary #15: Dyana Gravina

Dyana Gravina (She/They) is an independent curator, birth doula, activist and community builder, mover, and performance artist. They are currently studying for an MA in Gender Sexuality and Culture at Birkbeck University. Originally from Italy and now based in London, she is founder and creative director of Procreate Project, a pioneering arts organisation dedicated to womxn and non-binary artists who are (m)others. They have collaborated and curated projects with partners and venues including RCA, King’s College London, LADA Live Art Development Agency, Ugly Duck, Mimosa House, Women's Art Library, RichMix, Richard Saltoun Gallery, and 198 contemporary Art.

"My project is the result of ongoing research which has manifested in performance actions and photographic works. To deepen my work and research I will be attending the DOMUS residency in Southern Italy. This residency will allow me to explore my roots and upbringing through the medium of 'tights', a garment associated with specific imagery and standards of 'femininity' and sensuality, and to reconnect and tell stories of women from a working-class and disadvantaged socio-political background who did not comply with those standards. Those women were my mother, my grandmothers, and my ancestors. I remember those torn tights, their body hair, and the unapologetic living in their bodies. I aim to find my way back to those identities to review and re-shape my own, reframing 'tights' as a significant meaning for sacrifice, rebellion, and movement.

This autobiographical journey links to my overarching academic research into gender performativity within sex, sexuality and care work. This includes the impact of capitalism on social reproduction and how it affects women's bodies and identities across generations, and how western, privileged, feminist discourses have failed to consider the specificity of working-class women and the importance of unpaid labour. My work confronts feminist demands with the realities and women's lived experiences in the rural areas of Southern Italy, and their own view of matrilineal values, traditions and emancipation.

With a personal investment in radical ways of rethinking social reproduction, my research will find its roots in a series of conversations with women of different ages in the Salento area and beyond. I will discuss their experience of isolated care work duties, their perspective from the working-class reality, their aesthetics, and their ways of experiencing and expressing their bodies and sexuality, in the past and present times. This next phase of the project will create an opportunity to offer inspiration for contemporary practices based on 'collective care'. 'Tights' will be the thread and material used to create the intergenerational group of womxn and queers. They will be used as a conversation starter and as an artistic medium to reevaluate and reimagine 'feminised work' and 'female' identities.

The residency will result in a mix of photographic works and performance actions, both solo and in collaboration with the local community, conversations with the intergenerational group and academic papers, research drafts and provocations to be shared and discussed with the audience at DOMUS."

You can see more of Dyana's work on their website and Instagram.


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