DORFLES – TESTORI. MATTI
40 years after Law 180. A tribute to Franco Basaglia
Curated by Davide Dall’Ombra and Fabio Francione
20 May – 1 July 2018
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of one of Italy’s most famous laws, the Law “180” of 13 May 1978, also known as the “Basaglia Law” after its creator, Casa Testori paid tribute to Franco Basaglia, the first person in Italy to decide, with a contradictory gesture imbued with civic sense and intellectual passion, to tear down the gates and open the doors of asylums.
Casa Testori, giving voice to the important anniversary in an unprecedented and transversal way, intended to pay homage to both the law and its promoter by setting up an exhibition that, only in appearance, may seem distant from the epicentre of the political-institutional battle of the time, but which in reality seeks, through the double confrontation between Gillo Dorfles and Giovanni Testori, to understand Basagli’s thought and the reasons that moved him to undertake one of the greatest revolutions of the twentieth century.
In this sense, Dorfles – Testori. Matti. 40 years after Law 180. A tribute to Franco Basaglia, curated by Fabio Francione and Davide Dall’Ombra, short circuits Franco Basaglia’s generous utopias using the life and art experiences of both Gillo Dorfles and Giovanni Testori, who, about forty years apart, turned their attention to madness, painting men and women who had been rendered vulnerable and suffering by mental illness.
Dorfles, during the years of his specialisation in psychiatry at the end of the 1930s, drew and sketched mental illness after being directly fascinated by the inhabitants of asylums.
Testori, following the loss of his mother, to whom he was deeply attached, in 1977, renewed his understanding of theatre and painted the Matterelle, influenced by Gericault, the Nuovi Selvaggi and Varlin.
Dorfles and Testori, two artists who were in their own way “irregular” (or interdisciplinary), were able to explore before others the need to extend to everyone the right to live a dignified and fully understood life in society.
The exhibition was completed by a selection of articles on the relationship between art and madness published by Gillo Dorfles in Corriere della Sera between 1975 and 2013 and by a survey of the books published by Franco Basaglia (from Cos’è la psichiatria to L’istituzione negata, Morire di classe, Crimini di pace and all the major books).