The labyrinth in oral tradition
– memory –

Maria Rebecca Ballestra
The itinerary of the wandering soul / L’itinerario dell’anima vagante, 2015
Metal pins on paper, titanium dust on mirror, ink on paper
triptych, each element 50 x 50 cm

Works by Maria Rebecca Ballestra, realised during an artist residence in Signal Fire, Arizona (USA):

The image of the labyrinth is often associated with the journey of the deceased, the so-called itinerary of the “wandering soul” (hence the title of the work). The O’odham people considered the labyrinth as a symbol of birth and death. As did many other cultures in antiquity, this particular group of American indigenous people conceived the labyrinth as a one way, circular structure, characterised by seven concentric circles, with a single entrance and a dead end. In light of this conception, the only two possible outcomes of entering a labyrinth were thus to reach the end or to go back to the start. According to the O’odham people, the labyrinth is enriched by the stylised depiction of the human figure, located upon the entrance of the labyrinth itself: “The man in the Maze”. This symbol carries various meanings: as a matter of fact, the Tohono O’odham people refer to “the man in the mazen” as the god I’itoi and thus alluding to the myth of creation, but also to the symbolic journey of humanity and of every individual towards the black centre of the labyrinth – death – that is necessary to go back to being One with I’itoi, who lives in a subterranean labyrinth under the mountain Baboquivari.


Belo 189, via Carducci 41, Gorizia

22 December 2017 – 28 January 2018

Collective exhibition. Works by Rachela Abbate, Maria Rebecca Ballestra, Julien Friedler, Mauro Panichella, Berty Skuber, Robert Smithson, Aldo Spinelli

22 December 2017 6pm, Belo 189: Inauguration of Labirintica (visit to Kinemax expository space will follow)

Fragment nr. 2 from “The Truth of Labyrinth”

Let us then reflect on the following question: could art one day serve as a refuge from the noise and the rage within ?

We already know the answer: a founding “myth” along with a sustained practice of humanity. A minimal aesthetic, without prejudice. A contemplative perspective, that is devoid of all militancy.

Because, ultimately, what is the stuff that we are made of? Who am I? These are the questions we ask ourselves.Nagging questions.They can be heard at the heart of the Spirit of Boz and radiate from all its expressions (paintings, performances, writings, and so on).

And at the end of all this, they will imply another question, an infinitely stranger one. We will have to stop and think about this question. We will have placed it at the entrance of the Forest of Souls. Here is the question in all its crudeness: because, ultimately, what do we know about the existence (or non-existence) of God? God: the mystery of mysteries, a scandal for reason, pure madness, absolutely fundamental: an unfathomable force, which has exercised a tremendous hold on the artist since the dawn of time.