Vittoria Di Stefano

Pears on a Willow

Juncture Art Prize
31 May > 25 August 2024

Pears on a Willow is a site-specific sculptural installation for Linden New Art that explores the poetics of domestic spaces and their embedded histories. The work is a result of Di Stefano’s research into two historical narratives: that of the Linden site itself, a family home originally built for Jewish immigrant Moritz Michaelis in the nineteenth century; and the journey of the artist’s own Polish grandparents, who emigrated to Australia after the Second World War. While these two histories differ in circumstance and timeframe, their stories intertwine and overlap in their discussion of trauma, perseverance, survival and love. 

Both are also characterised by gaps in story; many details have been lost through the passing of time, resulting in fissures in narrative and fragmented details. Drawing on the sculptural legacy of artists such as Alina Szapocznikow, Dorothea Tanning and Louise Bourgeois, the various elements in this installation reflect the uncanny nature of this incomplete state, but they also aspire to healing, preservation and acceptance. The title of the work echoes that of the Polish expression ‘pears on a willow’, which refers to something desirable but impossible to obtain, reflecting the artist’s elusive desire to join the dots. The exhibition explores the complexity of personal histories, the unreliable nature of memory, and the poetics of the in-between states that characterise our domestic spaces and lived realities.  

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In 2023 Linden New Art launched JUNCTURE, a major new art prize for Australian mid-career contemporary artists. Two artists are each awarded $20,000 to support their practice, and twelve months in which to develop new work to be presented as a solo exhibition at Linden 2024. The inaugural winners of the prize were Vittoria Di Stefano and Shivanjani Lal.

Vittoria Di Stefano primarily works in sculpture and installation. Employing a methodology of generative material experimentation, her work explores themes of liminality, transformation and desire, with a particular emphasis on domestic space and intimate materiality. Using a diverse palette of materials, Di Stefano explores how experiences generated through art practice can produce new knowledge about everyday materiality, disrupt received cultural meanings, and critically engage with the political and cultural inferences of materiality.

IMAGES > Vittoria Di Stefano, Pears on a Willow, installation views and installation details, 2024, Reclaimed furniture and homewares, plaster, wax, resin, handmade felt, borax crystals, feathers, fur, fabric trims. Photographs: Simon Strong & Shelley Xue.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body.