Rebecca Moccia. Ministry of Loneliness

In 2021, Moccia won the International Research Grant promoted by the General Directorate for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry of Culture within the Italian Council programme. Over the past 3 years, Moccia, through the Ministry of Loneliness, has explored the collective and political states of loneliness, investigating its causes and possible solutions.

“– What if loneliness was a political issue,
rather than an individual one?
A collective feeling.
By directing pain toward its actual cause,
Could we turn it into a tool of struggle? “
(script from the video Ministries of Loneliness)”

Departing from an exploration of the Ministry of Loneliness – established in 2018 in the United Kingdom and replicated in 2021 in other countries such as Canada and Japan –Ministry of Loneliness is a multimedia installation that develops a reflection on the political and social structures that shape the emotional state of loneliness and its perception in contemporary society.
Ministry of Loneliness is a research-based project that explores the theme of loneliness and its politicisation in contemporary society, and took place through residencies, workshops and site-specific installations in collaboration with Outset England, Jupiter Woods (London), Magazzino Italian Art (Cold Spring, New York), the Italian Embassy in Tokyo, Fondazione ICA Milano and Careof (Milan).

Installation view, Rebecca Moccia. ‘Ministry of Loneliness. Premises’ at Jupiter Woods, London, 2022. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography. Courtesy: the Artist, Mazzoleni London - Torino.

The starting point of Moccia’s poetic approach is the conviction that, contrary to what has always been a dominant current in western thought, feelings and states of mind do not result exclusively from the self – the most intimate and subjective part of each of us – but they are determined by external elements and factors that are in part due to the qualities and typologies of the specific spaces and surrounding conditions that characterise our experience: feelings therefore do not have an exclusively subjective component. The study thus puts loneliness into relation with our political and economic system, focusing on how political and social structures shape this particular emotional state and our perception of it. An emotional state so endemic and widely shared that it could potentially represent a tool of empowerment for the community.

Rebecca Moccia, b. 1992
Cold as you are (Alexandra road estate), 2022
Thermal picture printed on on Hahnemühle cotton paper
48.3 x 32.9 cm - - 19 x 13 in
Rebecca Moccia, b. 1992
Cold as you are (Pub in London), 2022
Thermal picture printed on Hahnemühle cotton paper
48.3 x 32.9 cm - - 19 x 13 in

Video

– I think there’s a pain somewhere in the room, said Mrs Gradgrind,
but I couldn’t positively say that I have got it.

(Charles Dickens, Hard Times)

For the artist, places and moments carry with them particular atmospheres and spatialised emotions that do not belong to a subject. These emotions come from outside, from that environment and its atmosphere. Starting from this assumption, Moccia’s research on Solitude also focused on how this emotional state and its perception in contemporary society is shaped by the political and social structures in which we live. Contrary to common opinion and pandemic rhetoric, in Rebecca Moccia’s research, loneliness emerges not as a psychological problem of the individual, but as a shared and collective feeling that permeates western societies.
Loneliness can lead to physical and emotional stress, causing fatigue and inflammation. However, Moccia’s research and works note that if the world were to acknowledge the political significance of loneliness, it has the potential to be transformed into the warmth of a shared community, united in their struggles, albeit invisible.

The series Loneliness Scales, ceramic works, specially conceived for the exhibition at ICA Milano in 2023, give physical form to a series of workshops conducted by the artist over the last two years in different contexts, starting with the use of the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a tool developed by the University of California in 1978 to assess the level of loneliness of a given subject, and which is still used today by governments and commissions to quantify and define, at scientific and economic levels, the impact of loneliness on individuals.
During the workshops, often held in institutional contexts at which Moccia performed a number of stages and residencies as part of this research study, including Jupiter Woods in London, Magazzino Italian Art in New York and Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, the artist constructed a true voting booth, inviting the public to fill in the assessment forms to which she occasionally added new questions to highlight the methodological absurdity of the system.

Rebecca Moccia, b. 1992
Loneliness Scales, 2023
decal and graphite on ceramic
30 x 22 x 1.5 cm each - - 11 3/4 x 8 5/8 x 5/8 in

The duly compiled questionnaires, collected by Moccia during the workshops, were subsequently printed on ceramic slabs using the decalcomania technique and are presented stacked one on top of the other in the exhibition space.
The works thus respond to the artist’s need to materialise and monumentalise the scales of loneliness, and they also express the desire to give sculptural form not to the documents collected, but to the people themselves, with respect to their own emotional scale and their own permanence and fragility.

Rebecca Moccia, b. 1992
Cold as you are (Hudson Line), 2022
Thermal picture printed on Canson cotton paper mounted on aluminium
93.3 x 140 cm - - 36 3/4 x 55 1/8 in
Rebecca Moccia, b. 1992
Cold as you are (Portrait of Professional Cuddler), 2022
Thermal picture printed on Canson cotton paper mounted on aluminium
46.7 x 70 cm - - 18 3/8 x 27 1/2 in

In 2023, three new site-specific works were presented at the Fondazione ICA in Milan and at Galleria Mazzoleni in Turin: the non-fiction film Ministries of Loneliness (presented at the prestigious International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and winner of the ArteVisione prize at Careof Milan, 2022), together with the new site-specific installation How Often Do You Feel Heard and the large tapestry A Body In Flames, made in collaboration with Giovanni Bonotto and winner of the A Collection prize at ArtVerona2022, are also exhibited.

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