Cecilia Bullo's work, exhibited in l'Atelier, is based on the themes of ritual, tradition and inadequacy within society.
The work exhibited at the LIVE festival in Nantes consisted of two pieces: a porcelain walking stick made of two parts with a sterling-silver mounting lying on high visibility velvet in a protective case, and a video of a split screen displaying the artist walking in a rural and urban setting with the wooden stick which was then cast in porcelain.
The title, METANOIA, is a psychological term denoting the process of reforming the psyche as a form of self-healing, an explanation proposed by Jung for understanding psychotic breakdown. Cecilia Bullo was strongly influenced by the biography of Antonin Artaud in the creation of her work. Artaud is known to have travelled to Ireland in 1937 to return a walking stick which he believed was Saint Patrick’s crosier. He suffered a serious mental breakdown around the time when the walking stick he considered sacred was also taken away from him. He was then diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized. He spent most of the rest of his life in psychiatric institutions.
The porcelain walking stick with its fragility, preciousness and amulet-like characteristic recalls the sacred value Artaud’s walking stick had assumed in his perception and the ease with which this value could be shattered.
In the video presented by the artist, the left half of the screen showed her walking bare-foot with the wooden stick in rural Ireland, climbing mount Croagh Patrick, a famous site of pilgrimage receiving hundreds of pilgrims every year. This mountain had become a site of pilgrimage because Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is believed to have spent 40 days fasting on its summit in the 5th century. The pilgrims climb to the top as a sign of penitence and many of them do so bare-foot. The right half of the screen shows the artist walking in an urban setting, New York, where her obstacles are very different but not necessarily easier to overcome.
Although Cecilia is alone on her walk to the summit of Croagh Patrick, the left half brings to mind groups of pilgrims traditionally supporting each other in attaining their goal. On the right half of the screen however, the artist seems very alone in her endeavor, despite her being constantly only a few steps away from other people. The two screens of the video, in addition to recalling notions of split personality and duality, also juxtapose the cohesive power of ritual and tradition to the factuality of urban estrangement.