Abitanti Ambienti 2007
Daniela De Lorenzo Zoè Gruni Kinkaleri
13 - 17 February 2007
Raffaele Luongo Franco Menicagli Virgilio Sieni
20 - 24 February 2007
The exhibition Abitanti Ambienti, curated by Silvia Lucchesi, was split into two parts lasting five days each and presented the work of six artists: Daniela De Lorenzo, Zoè Gruni, Kinkaleri, Raffaele Luongo, Franco Menicagli and Virgilio Sieni. The works are personal views on the topic of the relationship between body and space, interpreted using different means, from video to photography and installations. Our own and other people’s bodies, and changes in the body live in and relate to domestic environments, collective environments like the city, and abstract habitats, through everyday, private and performed gestures.
Daniela De Lorenzo, from Florence, presented Geotropico, a brand new double video projection in which the slim body of a female dancer does simple actions. In the same way as vegetable organs have the “geotropic” property of pointing in a direction corresponding or contrary to the force of gravity – their roots point towards the earth’s centre while the stems go in the opposite direction – the dancer rises up from the earth, and moves, revolving her bent body forward. But the backward assembly of the film generates a sort of mysterious and bewildering gap within the gesture. So her body appears heavy, her action held back, tired. The scene is an empty and silent interior that locks the repeated action into a squashed vision, removing volume and essence from the shape, while the amplified and processed sound of silence is weighted, leaden.
The young artist from Pistoia, Zoè Gruni, has made Copricorpo, a photographic triptych that depicts her as she wears three sculptures she sewed using hemp from packaging bales. “I am a woman, and, like a bale, I am a container”, the artist says. This is why she chose to work with this coarse, smelly and thankless material. Her figure is almost totally enveloped in the complex construction of the strange clothes; it transforms into a primordial, animal-like being, immodest in the cold light of an unmoving, timeless landscape.
The new photographic work of the Tuscan theatre/dance group Kinkaleri, created especially for this occasion, comprises stills taken from the first eight videos in the WEST project. Work in progress which began in 2002 and is due to end in 2007, WEST is a journey that looks at the West through the “remains” of an act repeated in front of a video camera: anonymous inhabitants are filmed in urban contexts while they fall down “dead”. The sets are the streets and squares of twelve cities chosen as icons of Western culture, where more than a simple geographical term, “western” is meant as the dominating economic and anthropological model. To date the series includes films made in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna and London, the most recent addition being Peking in November 2006. The silent series of video stills frames the body lying on the ground, that is, the extreme moment of this construction comprising many acts of dying.
All Raffaele Luongo’s work is a single self-portrait. A representation of himself that, in a society brimming with strength and security, does not hesitate to recognise his weaknesses. Hence he draws his story with his own blood, again and again, and the subjects belong to his world of memories, they are images and episodes from his life often rendered in the form of a cartoon or comic strip. By using blood as a residual element, the depiction of the past is linked to the artist in a carnal manner. Indeed, once exposed to the light it coagulates straight away, blocking recollections so that they may be retained in the memory. A silent and detached artist, Luongo, who lives between Naples and Florence, has presented a brand new video and two sculptures made especially for the occasion.
Franco Menicagli, who lives and works in Florence, presented a video and installation made especially for the exhibition. It is one of his collections of odd bits and bobs. They consist of small ceramic and paper beings resembling animals and vegetables, which one might say are genetically modified. In the video there is a horse with wings and missiles attached, a submarine with reptilian legs, a tank and a plane with bird’s wings. Meanwhile, on some shelves are plants whose leaves are not the same, different things, malformations grow out of the same plant. All seem to be the result of experiments, inhabitants of an upturned world in which technology, the utmost sign of man’s progress, has gone mad. And so this gives rise to these hybrids evoking military industry and biogenetics.
The diptych Bratto Ballet is one of the three video installations made by the Florentine choreographer Virgilio Sieni as part of Family, the troupe’s residential project carried out in Siena in 2006. A meeting with four Sienese families produced a study that lasted three months, giving rise to videos, performances and a series of events. In the videos, the members of the family, children, adults, and old people, linked by different relationships, tackle a chorographical and figurative study centring around respect for natural gestures, taking a cognitive, anthropological and ethical approach towards everyday lives and their transfiguration. The sets are the domestic environments where the people usually live. The same people go through and act in them following precise choreographies that bring out the enigmatic sense of spatial relations, postures, and the everyday and ineffable sense of brief ceremonies of gesture.