The second of two interventions by UNIDEE 2011, introduction and texts by Friday in FRAC organiser Nicoletta Daldanise unless otherwise indicated:
Thinking about the exhibition of the FRAC Piedmont collection, the contributions of UNIDEE Residents 2011 explore various possibilities of dialogue with architecture as well as different ways of acting in it, starting from the exhibition space. In fact, a series of meetings preceded the actual construction of the works, conceiving the show and developing a creative workshop in order to define the best way of sharing a place not only in physical terms, but also working along the lines of a collaborative and critical approach.
The difficult relationship between natural element and artificial element, each seeking to gain space is one of the themes touched by the works on display. The environmental and economic crises – not necessarily coincidentally linked- force us to question the premises of the development of contemporary society. In fact, the methods of production generated from the Industrial Revolution have become largely obsolete and unsustainable. Recently, it was pointed out that capitalism just moves its problems geographically without solving them, so raising ecological and ethical questions about our lifestyle has never been as urgent as during this historical period.
The industrial architecture and archaeology are perfect examples of where the organic fights to survive and it is interesting to study the conversion lines of the original functionality of the industrial structures. Organic doesn’t in fact have to mean just natural resources, but also the human creative presence intended to give a personal insight to the structures which would otherwise be an empty shell. UNIDEE Residents highlight the continuing imbalance of these two elements through a dialogue with some of the artists from the FRAC collection such as Oscar Tuazon, Lara Almarcegui and Bojan Sarcevic, in order to reflect also on the material traces left by men in places and their recycling.
The consumerist model, created without foresight and upheld by those in power in economic and political systems, shows more and more faults. The invitation to return to natural cycles, avoiding waste and giving value to objects’ memories and potential to be reused, gives society a clear message. The consumerist model in fact often limits the progress of the individual and the collective, because of obsessive production and intellectual control, affecting the relationship we have with the space in which we live every day.
Paint without paint
Reflecting upon the idea of FRAC’s upcoming exhibition of exploring the various possibilities of dialogue with architecture as well as forms of acting in it, Aastha Chauhan and Raphael Franco propose a collaborative sub-curatorial project involving street artists and the URBE association from Torino. Both Aastha and Raphael have experience in working in community-based works, addressing questions concerning the accessibility of contemporary arts, the role of arts in society and different forms of activating spaces through culture. During their stay in Italy, the artists had the opportunity to visit the SUB URB ART project at Via Foggia, 28 in Torino, and to establish a contact with its organizers Raw Tella, Eugenio Dragoni and the association URBE. Considering the nature of the FRAC Piedmont collection as well as the purpose of the exhibitions, Aastha and Raphael aim to establish a synergic process involving FRAC, CIttadellarte, UNIDEE 2011 and the organization of the SUB URB ART and the population of Biella through this collaborative curatorial project. As socially engaged artists Raphael and Aastha, are interested in working with people and believe strongly in process over product. This curation is an attempt at bringing the energy and critical understanding of the phenomenon of STREET ART within the context of contemporary arts into the Biellese discourse.
Aastha Chauhan and Raphael Franco
Solidarity is an ethical category increasingly deconstructed in a society where the individual has to face his destiny predominantly alone. Cai Weidong, with his performance, intends to bring this issue to everyone’s attention and turn it into an artistic gesture. Through different places and times, his action will go on and become a real fund-raiser to be donated to the homeless, to which even the final recipient of the work will also contribute, whenever this was purchased. On the day of the exhibition, the artist presents a video documentation of the performance in the center of Sanremo. During the stay of UNIDEE 2011 Residents in the La Pigna district, Cai Weidong sat for several hours in the street, asking for a contribution for a return air ticket to China, highlighting the condition of distress and isolation experienced by those who move from their home country to sometimes find little acceptance in their new location.
The landscape and the textile tradition have long been the identity of Biella. Observation of the area and its relationship with the community led Ekaterina Kravtsova to take these two elements as essential to her contribution to the exhibition. Collecting old clothes from people known during the period of residence also means drawing the threads of their personal stories and memories related to those objects. Inspired by an ancient weaving technique, used in Russia to create carpets, the artist deconstructs fabric in strings and then reassembles them in the form of mountains, the favourite places for Biellese people. At the same time the accumulation of pieces of cloth visually reconstructs the slow overlapping of geological periods of the earth, as well as the memories contributed over time to determine and give nourishment to our lives.
The development of a critical point of view about the perception of reality has always been the common theme for Elmas Deniz’s work, ranging across different media and touching on topics such as democracy, urbanism, and globalization. Bird Head is related to the latest reflections of the artist about urban poverty and the system of values produced by capitalistic society. The objects found through a process of collection from the area forms a nest, which reconstructs a symbol of life from the waste of consumerism, instigating strong questions about a possible alternative system, re-learning from the natural world. Even the way we look at nature today, in fact, is determined by the value of money. However, through the use of empathy with a simple creature like a bird, the artist shows us how we take the reasons behind our social structure for granted, while they are totally irrelevant or even incomprehensible to nature, which recycles and never wastes anything.
As the water falls
The interplay between personal and collective memory, the relative perception of time and the deconstruction of spaces are some of the issues which the contemporary art scene is focusing on more urgently. How to translate the complexity of these reflections, through the movement of the human body using choreography, is part of Karolina Rychlik’s research. The video included in the exhibition, filmed by the artist shut inside the exhibition hall for 11 consecutive hours, is the result of an extreme and personal experience of the space, immersed in a dimension where time loses its reference points, marked only by the continuous sound of the river outside. The strong relation between nature and architecture in the former wool mill, its very location chosen to take advantage of the proximity of water, is filtered through the human body in a cyclic repetition of gestures, sounds and suspended moments as if in an obsessive memory.
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illustrations by Mathew Mazzotta and Olga Karyakina
Developing a narrative in form of dialogue helps to explore new areas of collaboration and new languages in a constant search for compromise with significant implications for both the practices of artists and the aesthetic result. Matthew Mazzotta and Olga Karyakina use the story to reflect on the perception of the boundary between inside and outside of our living spaces. The story of two fictional characters is shown through the drawings of a storyboard with surreal contents, in which it is possible to glimpse signs of the problem of opening the architecture to a more sustainable approach. The meeting of two different worlds, then, leads the action into an unpredictable explosion, that ends in a positive change. Similarly, the transformation often passes through a phase of the destruction of the pre-established, but the immediate and fast technique of the drawings simplifies the perception, giving precedence to the pleasure of an artistic meeting made of images rather than words.
Walls in void
The reflection on architecture and its integration with the surrounding landscape provides an opportunity for the meeting of two different but complementary artistic practices. The aesthetics of the urban landscape and its suburbs combine with a survey on the social function and the fate of local buildings, the visual result based upon the informative research. The project is in fact linked very closely at Biella by mapping some of the local disused factories- abandoned because of the crisis in the textile sector- which are particularly interesting due to their ensuing relationship with surrounding vegetation. The voids in their architecture are filled with green, shaping new forms, a process in which installation is just as important as performance, using aesthetic forms by simply observing what is there or underlining them with the use of neon.