by Lucio Saviani (2003)

"The subjectum of the art experience (…) is not the subjectivity of he who completes the work, but the work itself. As far as we are concerned, it is peculiar in the idea mentioned-above the concept of the GAME. The game has got its own essence, which is independent of those who play (…). The subject of the game is not the player, but the game CAUSED among the players”.

Those selections, taken from Wahrheit und Methode by Hans Georg Gadamer, are a passage (and a beginning) that introduce us to Licia Galizia’s work.

Firstly, because in Gadamer’s hermeneutic suggestion the link between game and art is a peculiar introduction to the item of dialogue (being a crucial passage for the contemporary hermeneutics and aesthetics) and especially to the semantic dialogue, to the DIA, as in any first step of a route. The DIA is a very present gesture in Licia Galizia’s work. Secondly, because it is a quotation taken from Gadamer at the end of a conversation.(1)

Basically, this quotation should be, I suppose, the best way to follow signs, to point out traces, to discover passages, and to mark out the step, just to trace out a dialogue with Licia Galizia. A dialogue, a communication which already exists because of our common thought.

So, why are we talking about the link between GAME and ART in Licia Galizia’s idea? And why is the Gadamer’s thought underlined by Licia Galizia as a starting point?


The idea of game as the most subversive thought. The idea of game has been often exorcized by metaphysics. It arises not only towards the fundamental concepts of the philosophic thought, but also in our most common experience. Everything totters from their basis, provoking a radical crisis upon the concepts of subject, truth, world, appearance, reality and fiction, true and false, being and nothingness.

Exorcized and neutralized from the metaphysical speech, the game finds its fortune (even though rare) in some thoughts about the concept of beauty, so close to the idea of thinking, that is of the art itself. Here is the deepest sense of the game: when the ambiguity, the contradiction, the doubt, the enigma arise higher and higher, they carry away the thought.

Is the "thinking" of the art the idea of a performance of the art itself, of a philosophy of art? Or, is it a non-philosophical idea, so the art provokes a different thought?

The quotation expressed by Licia Galizia is apparently light as if it is carrying with it an idea shaped somewhere else. But, its sense reaches, like an "iron soul", to whom we can rely on the way of the artist. This concept is always marked in her route. This sense, also meant as a direction, a destination, a guideline and a decision, is going to cross, to pass through, to put together in Galizia’s work (as in her little canals of iron coated with zinc "systems", souls made of iron in the wall) the difficult relationship between art and thought, and at first, of the reflection on the game, the main matter concerning the art as a thinking concept.

From the Platonic gesture (in which the art appears as a simulacrum – an image a copy very far from the truth as sketches on a wall of a cave…) the philosophy has always studied the art linked to the truth, as if it had a constantive nature instead of a performative one. The art seems to be the imitation or the realization of an external reality, pre-existent in the work of art, it does not really produce a new event. So, now the destiny of the art crosses that one of the game which is considered, at first, as a reflection of the ordinary life. The art and the game shared for ages the interpretation which sees both as MIMESIS of the real life. They are copies of the real thing as the shadow or the reflected image, so that the sensitive copy brings back to the idea. The art becomes the imitation of the imitations, and mostly victim of the illusion to know the true reality.

But, he who plays (like the artist) lives into two dimensions. The traditional relationship which links, as contraries, subject and object, reality and appearance, illusion and truth, conscience and imagination, seems to loose any strength and reason.

The art does not leave itself thought about, because if it lets itself thought about like an object, it does not produce events. So, only producing events, the art thinks.

If the experience of the art is experience, in the original sense of the word, and so which "really modifies he who does it", the artist and the work of art are involved in a "GAME" which surpasses both; that is, in the work of art, the reality has got a true which was not in the horizon of the common and the ordinary experience. As the authentic subjectum of the aesthetic experience, it is not the artist but the work itself. The same as the game that reveals its deepest sense which is not in the player’s behaviour and conscience, but in its peculiar independence of the "subjectivity" of the game.


In its artistic practise, Licia Galizia knows that the theme of the game is not a simply speech about the practice of the game itself, even if it should play an important role in the rhetoric meaning on the artistic doing, although Galizia is very far from this idea. The theme of the game is mostly, for her, talking about the experience of displacement, bringing the identity into play, an opening view towards the unexpected, paradoxically considered as a definition always opened and temporarily of the relationship between the artist and the user of the work of art. (We know that, according to Gadamer, the work of art completes itself through the action of the user, of the audience meant as the "fourth wall" of the performance).

Licia Galizia’s systems of breaks is the courses, or routes, opened towards a "possible" doing are the mis-en-oeuvre of this thought upon the experience of art and upon its "real" subjectum. We shall explain later the "systems" according to Galizia (also in the sense of being exposed to their indecidable destination, closing or achievement).

Now, we are leading to the sense – also again in the sense of direction – of the thought of the "authentic subjectum of the art" for Galizia. In the game, here, in the described, suggested, opened, absent, concluded, peremptory spaces, and at the same time indecisive of the little canals of iron, in the mobile copper plate, in their systems of routes, this is the sense of the word "experience".


"The development of my route, I think, is going to a larger flexibility, discussing again its being in the space. I underline the word route because it is upon this idea that I am working. Through some little canals or some little binaries of iron coated with zinc I enter in the space, I go through it, I penetrate it to go out of it. That is to create routes which are potentially changeable. There are various kind of routes: individual, mass route, physical or mental which meet and differ themselves; I look for a relationship among these possibilities”. (2)

Now we should call the sense of this passage a "declaration of method" But in Licia Galizia’s words we have to follow a path, a route which leads to the deep sense, less apparent, of that matter. It is always the matter of the artistic experience and of the reflection upon its essence and its real subject.

Methodos is the route, the way, the walking that becomes the way which penetrates into the interior (metà) following something along a way (hòdos). So, following a method is just a metaphore. The experience itself is the route, the way, the crossing from its roots: to go – towards (somewhere) coming – from (somewhere), as a metaphore, the metaphore of the ex-perientia is the trip, the going towards, crossing the things: penetrating the things from part to part, putting them on a line (theorìa), doing them clear to the look (theorein) becoming experience.


"...there are parts completely excavated in the wall, in the little canals, like binaries which were born from the structure and extended for large ways even seven, eight metres, through a window, block an opening or have got a sense of continuity to connect the halls. (...) the little canals went from the floor to the ceiling; the wall, instead of being the limit of the course is an intermediate space” (3)

Licia Galizia proposes a sort of paradoxical limitrofia, or an opening system, and paradoxically, of aporie.

The literaly meaning of "aporia" is: "there is no passage", there is not "poros", the essence of a passage can not only depend on an obstacle which interrupts our routes (mèthodos). It can also depend on the non-definable of a line to go beyond: it is so undetermined that it cannot be crossed. We cannot go through from here to there.

The passage of a boundary is always the overcoming of a line which is indivisible. Where this indivisibility is compromised, the passing of the line becomes a problem, meant not only as an "obstacle", but also of a projection and protection. In the paradoxical "aporia" there is matter no more. We are without defence, neither prosthesis nor project. This is the sense of the Greek diaporeo: "I cannot do it, I cannot go out of it, I cannot do anything for that". The confusion and the embarrassment produced by the aporia is not the impasse: it does not ask for a new way; it does not ask to put aside a matter from the way. The aporia is the experience of the boundary that is not identifiable, and so insuperable.

But, following Licia Galizia’s route we enter again into the question of the idea of art, of experience and of her subjectum: a thought which is not standing still but moves, which acts following the aporia, it is a restless standing on so close to the limits of the instability.


We know that the concept of limit is a paradox: it opens crisis, breaks; it fells into an abyss the "common notion", producing fluctuations, and so it totters as far as its basis, settled theories and truths of the occidental thought and of its tra-dition. If to conceive is "to take together" (comprehendere) "to take and to put together" (cum capio), to produce "object", and to re-present, to put in front of ourselves, the concept of limit is impossible.

The limit is simultaneously the proximity and the distance, the similarity and the difference, the inwardness and the outward. Something which can be found, at the same time, on this side and beyond a borderline, of a threshold or an edge. So, it is an uncertain area in which it is possible to come in and to come back, to go out again.

As when, as Galizia says: "the wall, instead of being the limit of the lay-out has become the middle space". A wall which turns into a threshold. A threshold is, really, what confuses the inside and the outside, leaving the outer coming in and the inner going out, separating and unifying them.

In this sense, the threshold is only when nothing happens, when nothing exists.

So, the threshold seduces. It is not a really simple strategy of attracting the itself (sui-duco), but better the removal of the presence to an original context. It is a wrong-footing, a disjunction (sed-ducere). Here is again the game of absence and presence.


"The project is articulated around the concept of system which is proposed in different ways: on the opposite side of the room, we find two square coloured plates, one of them is red and the other one is black, all of it is represented in a fixed system; the chosen colours want to underline two rigid systems, as opposites and contrasted. Another system is the barrier which divides the area into two parts and it thwarts, or better interferes upon the vision of the walls, in which more or less complicated, fixed and moving, made of zinc and coloured systems develop. The systems on the walls have a double nature: the main structures realized through little canals coated with zinc and naturally left, fixed and rigid as unchangeable codex; the other structures, even made of the same material, are coloured, moving and changeable, distributed in the all area. It is possible to observe, to pass through and to modify the majority of the systems. The route is obliged because t he passage is only allowed on the opposite sides of the area composed by the barrier” (4)

Following this route, instead of a "system", we can talk about a "diastema". The root "dia" brings us to the first step: the dia-logue. The dia-logue is produced by fullness of sense and emptiness of words, of expression and of silence, of opening to the others, keeping the itself, and mostly about distance. It is the distance which gives a sense to the dialogue.

In the term of diastema, we find again the concept of limit taken in its enigmatic paradox: what separates and unifies at the same time, and through a gesture. The game of the absence and of the presence, of the order and of the chaos. The work by Licia Galizia can be translated as a practice of the margins, of the sides between a system of signs and its coming back to the other from the itself. This concept is clear if thought in a background in which the idea of the limit in its constitutive intermittence and translatability (the break, the pause, the boundary, the perimeter, the line...). So, Galizia’s works are systems of breaks which do not want to be complete, they "have an end" only to insert themselves in a system: they interrupt and suspend a surface which support themselves, and at the same time, as in any threshold, which transcends them. Licia Galizia’s "diastemi" define an absence existing and a hidden and concealed presence.

We talk again about the distance and the mysterious sense (direction, destiny, route) of the nearness. Heidegger asserted (in his famous conference in 1950 upon "The Thing") one of the fundamental points of the contemporary world trying to erase any kind of distance. At the same time, he perceived that the dissolution or the reduction of the distance does not realize the nearness: what is very far can be very close. A little distance is not already a nearness and a big distance is not already an absence.

The problematic nature of a "definition", proper of any tracing boundaries and limits, invests not only the very sense of these works but also the identity of the subjectum of the artistic work.


"Looking at himself as if in a mirror in his own work, the artist does not search for his own appearence, but the traces of the itself become "anything else". The work, in a way, does not belong to him anymore". (5)

Licia Galizia’s words relate to P. Valéry, and his game of words. Unfortunately, it cannot be so well-expressed, on his oeuvre and manoeuvre: work, manpower, handmade work, and manoeuvre. Valéry says: "the relationship between work and author is one of the most strange things. The work does not allow to recognize the real author (...) the work misses its author. It does not belong to him anymore. It suits everybody. It becomes its father. He was only its means. It leaves him naked".

Here we come back at the starting point of the dialogue with Licia Galizia, upon the experience of the art and upon its authentic subjectum.


The artistic gesture of Licia Galizia has its own relation to the adventures, the trajectories, the routes of the eye’s perception and that line throws, that "exposed sense" which is the project of any writing. This indispensable relationship comes strongly to the surface when the elements of her work of art (her body, her hands, her eyes, grace and iron, soul and zinc), when her traces reveal their own behaviour, which means that they can have influence on the form, on the sense, on the substance, and on the style upon which we have talks about.

1) "La tua opera è un gioco”, conversazione con Francesca Lamanna, in L. Galizia, Sistemi, Lithos, Roma, 2000
2) L. Galizia, Intervista, 1998, »
3) N. Perilli, Intervista a Licia Galizia, in L. Galizia, Sistemi, cit.
4) L. Galizia, Sistemi, in L. Galizia, Sistemi, cit.
5) L. Galizia, Configurazione di un percorso, in "A regola d’arte”, Museo Laboratorio, Università della Tuscia, 1996.