Other cartographies by Julie Polidoro


– What to teach you if not love?

– But what is love?

– You can only know

 when you become

 what lies in front of you

– Now you are you, here before me

– Become me! Become me!

– And then?

– Then become one with all there is

– But that way I will never be anyone

– Yes, this is the best that can happen to you.


Mariangela Gualtieri, Requiem for Pinocchio (2022)


Julie Polidoro is an artist on the move. Her works progress in steps, and steps, unlike wheels, retain memory. Even wheels, to be honest, hold a form of memory because they wear out. Steps, on the other hand, are body, that is to say, they are a process of memory. Human memory is more feeling than consumption, it accumulates more than it consumes, it distorts even more than it lets go. On the other hand, we talk and wheels don’t, or not yet.

Bodies lie at the heart of this series of paintings by Polidoro. Whole. Realistic. Real. Adjectives that, previously, could not have been used to describe her works. The human was taken apart, absent, in metamorphosis. Essentially. Organs and words in refrigerators, arms disassembled like the wooden elements of dolls or puppets, humans who blossom like potted flowers, metamorphoses, cartographies, geographies and folded canvases, objects that, while presupposing the human – tables, chairs, forks, various utensils –were (and are since the painting stops) represented in absence. In absence and in perspective.

I come back to memory because it is as if every single painting by Julie Polidoro ought to lead to this point and not another. As if, seen from these bodies, the past were not, to quote William Shakespeare’s The Tempest,  prologue. The past is prologue and the point where Julie Polidoro has arrived, and she with us, is a point of oranges and yellows, purple and fuchsia, reds and blues. Julie Polidoro who has disassembled and reassembled the world in wide shot or with geometric complexity and intricacy, has devoted herself here to representing the human. First she drew space and time so that humans would not find themselves out of place and lost. First the garden, then the human. Polidoro’s artistic path therefore leads to acceptance and it is therefore unsurprising that this structural acceptance today reveals all its effectiveness and necessity: the bodies painted by Julie Polidoro are migrant bodies.

If the migration of bodies, in this place of rights that we call the West, is essentially a gender migration, or if the word is used in this statistical nuance, then migration, to that place outside the West that we call the rest of the world, is physical.

And it’s epic. It’s an exodus. Bodies that walk, board ship, bodies that get lost at sea, surviving bodies that still walk, bodies that change in shape and colour, bodies equipped with mobile devices that remain switched on even when shoes are broken and heels are bloodied, when the water has run out and when hope, which is the last to die, is now dead, mobile phones stay on because the exodus brings with it the need to bear witness. By any means.

Migration brings stories with it, perhaps it could be argued that without physical migration – in all senses of this adjective – there is no story and, as is evident in these works by Polidoro, not even images.

After anthropomorphic bodies that changed into something else, geographical maps that preserved the memory of the human gaze that had confused or misunderstood them or of the human hands that had composed Platonic solids or those that aspired to be such, after refrigerators that were, indeed, capsules of time and desires, and after spaces to be inhabited or inhabited but never in the present of the body, Julie Polidoro has arrived at the human.

Together with the human.


Chiara Valerio is a writer; her latest book is La tecnologia e’ religione (Einaudi).