Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Silvi Naçi, AL

 At first glance, Silvi Naçi’s minimalistic film on hands appears reminiscent of iconic works from the 1960s. Yvonne Rainer’s Hand Movie (1966), Richard Serra’s Hand Catching Lead and Joseph Beuys’s Hand Action (1968) all seem likely references.

Yet while the figure in Naçi’s film, the artist themself, performs many gestures associated with artmaking, such as moulding, forming and cutting, these are interspersed with other gestures more evocative of a playful, sexual or violent interaction. What becomes apparent is that this highly personal work is less focused on creation than debilitation: every single thing the protagonist’s hands do hurt.

By cutting off the head of the figure, Naçi visibly disrupts the nexus between thinking and making that many philosophers, such as Friedrich Engels or Hannah Arendt, view as the basis of labour – and a precondition of humanity. In so doing, the artist challenges the viewer to question and reimagine the relationship between work, capital and social engagement – and the role of pain in shaping all that we are and do.