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TECH SPECS

A series of photos – etchings – depicting typical Mediterranean botanical species, which are threatened by bacteria and parasites (red palm weevil and Xylella).

The botanical species are photographed from far above, a different point of view from the standard garden fruition, as if external agents looking at plants, threaten their existence, unveiling, at the same time, landscapes of the production chains, well suggesting an aesthetic towards modernity without any deceptive simulations from idealized “past” forms coming from some “traditional” idea of garden.

At the end, the series is just another reference to the history of photography suggested by the works exhibited at the show The Plural always outweighs the Singular at the Radicepura botanical park: in this case, the fantastic and fleeting gardens depicted by the surrealists’ daddy, Eugène Atget.

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Documentation project of an art manifestation.

FICARRA CONTEMPORARY DIVAN, a program of art residencies and events in a small village located in front of the Aeolian archipelago and gate of the Nebrodi’s mountain natural park. Its aim to echo the best traditions of European and Western art institutions that have worked on specific areas in relation to international contexts.

I used my documentary work to question the landscape of and around Ficarra as an element of the political and cultural dimension. By processing images that can be highly evocative for a community that lives quite isolated in wintertime, given the weather conditions and the topography of the valleys of the Nebrodi chain, in Sicily.

Marking the geological forms of a region located at the meeting place of three continental plates allowed me to evoke a temporal and spatial dimension shared by both local people and artists, without interfering with the specificity of the artists’ works and realizing a communication-based project accessible to a wider audience.

Here in Ficarra, ordinary people are used to being involved with the “curiosities” of art and contemporary artists, and you often come across discussions and analysis, not at all intimidated, on the quality of the artworks and research. Similarly, it was fun to listen to people who, intrigued by the details of the images I showed them, tried to guess the location of a rock, a cliff, or even a volcanic landscape, revealing the centrality of this town inhabited by just one thousand souls in the context of a wider region.

In a nutshell, I wanted my work to question the dichotomy between the center and the periphery so important for balance, not only within the art system, but also within the political and economic worlds; I was trying to suggest the possibility that, although part of a small community, you can feel part of a larger one beyond the confines of any environmental boundaries.

NEMO_Beta, HD movie, 39′ 36”, 2009-10.

NEMO is the Italian development project of KM3NeT, an European research infrastructure aimed to build a gigantic Cherenkov telescope, basically a giant underwater antenna, to detect high-energy astrophysical neutrinos. The movie documents the experimental installation of a twelve arms tower at 3500 meters depth. Below the sea level dozens of this module will form a grid of 1 square km about 700 meters high.

Still from HD movie.

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Publicity still

The KM3NeT will be the only submarine telescope to operate in the northern hemisphere and will be complementary to the American telescope installed under the ice of Antarctica. If implemented, it would become a centre of world-class research in the field of basic research as well as the largest station for monitoring the marine environment. The depths chosen by the Italian project for this telescope installation are part of a large area of the Ionian Sea located approximately 80 km from Portopalo, very close to the area where occurred the 1996 Christmas Eve wreck (see Portopalo).

NEMO_Beta is also the continuation of BdA, the exhibition contents made for the  Science Museum of Catania whose purpose was to illustrate the recent history of development in Sicily.

Silver Bars (in Brimstone), documentary movie, 16:9 SD 64’, 2007-08.

BdA, photographic series, Durst Lambda prints on metal paper on Dibond panels with aluminium frames and museum glass, each dimension cm. 115×76,5, 2008.

Building a Science Museum in a disused sulphur refinery in the old industrial area of Catania may be an opportunity for a journey into the modern history of eastern Sicily. Indeed, the sulphur mines exploitation, which started in the early nineteenth century, immediately linked Sicily to the industrialization process that was spreading from England in Europe and America.

BdA7793779888678340076479260861876386068786882784608474 Installation view from the exhibition DA QUI # 01.09, gianluca collica gallery, Catania 2009.

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Installation view from the exhibition DA QUI # 01.09, gianluca collica gallery, Catania 2009.

BdA (Barre d’Argento – Silver Bars) is an acronym chosen to indicate two different works, which were intended to complete the exhibition contents of the  Science Museum of Catania, and which purpose was to illustrate the recent history of the development in Sicily. The title was inspired by a work of the American artist Lawrence Weiner, which was realized in Catania at the gianluca collica gallery, the statement Silver Bars Bathed in Brimstone.

The documentary movie Silver Bars (in Brimstone) and the photographic installation BdA7793… are far-reaching journeys telling a story that goes from the sulphur years to those of oil and developers, up until the technological district and the numerous scientific research programmes that have developed around the Department of Physics of Catania. A journey from the bowels of the world to the top of volcano. It’s a laborious ascension to the vastness of the sea and the sky, from Inferno to Paradise. Furthermore, the two BdA works both represent an attempt to reconcile the experimental fury of the art in 1900 with a – often unevenly – communicator function of the work of art.

The narration of Silver Bars (in Brimstone) links the protagonists’ testimonies (from miners, owners of the deposits, scientists) and the historians’ interviews, with extracts of Sicilian literature (Luigi Pirandello, Giovanni Verga, Enzo Di Bernardo, Melissa Panarello). Locations views from the Floristella mine to the Priolo petrochemical centre, from the commercial centre (designed by the Italian archistar Massimiliano Fucksas) to the nuclear accelerator at the university campus, alternate with film excerpts of Italian documentary masterpieces such as Surfarara by Vittorio De Seta, Col cuore fermo Sicilia by Gianfranco Mingozzi, Gela antica e nuova by Giuseppe Ferrara, or with archival footage of scientific experiments.

Eight (plus two) panels make the photographic installation; each one is the combination of two photographs. This combination of two creates a reciprocal relationship. On one hand, we have a dialectic regarding the subject contents of the photos. On the other, there are two portions of space that confront each other for the purely formal aspect of the composition. In each panel each photo, or portion of space, communicates with the other but also with those making the remaining seven panels. Each area represents also a place or a matter: cave, sea, sky or earth, air, water, fire, or sea, mountain/volcano, sun.

Landscape, thus, works as a narrative of a (hi)story. The structure of the photo installation, then, aims to replace specific formal, thus ideological, references of modernism.

[Federico Baronello, a written report to Helmut Friedel after the work’s acquisition by the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München, Oct. 2009]

 

Tokyozilla, documentary movie, SD 38’, 2002-03.

Will humanoid robots be yet another new technology designed to change our lives? Metropolitan train rides take us to encounters with numerous robots, from the top star Asimo and the – once – best selling Aibo to the more R&D projects, demonstrating their extraordinary abilities. The meetings and interviews with researchers and engineers at the Honda and Sony headquarters, specialists research centres, science museum and robotic shop, are the stopping points of an original journey in Tokyo.

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Tokyozilla, still from the movie.

We do not know whenever humanoid will be products ready for mass consumption. In any case, the testimony of a (failed, it seems) moment of passage, from the manufacture of prototypes to commercial production of robotics, together with its operating environment, could at least suggest a conciliatory solution to the dispute on the origins of the world.

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Tokyozilla, still from the movie.

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Tokyozilla, still from the movie.

 

*Mondo Arata, documentary movie, SD 12′, 2002.

The Akiyoshidai International Art Village (AIAV) centre for music, dance and visual arts, a costly complex of buildings with a kind of uncanny resemblance to German ’30s aesthetic, may be the most controversial work made by the world famous architect Arata Isozaki. The movie camera leads us through dichotomies: the architectural space and intervention of Myke Bode and Takuji Kogo, the interview excerpts by the architect Isozaki and the art critic Staffan Schmidt, transforming on the way the reportage into a thriller with a second hidden finale.

The documentary, produced for the AIAV exhibition and residence programme TRANS_2002-2003, may be a criticism on certain architecture that is the protagonist of urban development affecting much of the Asian continent in recent years.

*Mondo Arata, 2002. Still from digital video, length 12'.

*Mondo Arata, still from the movie.

The Power Of Love, documentary movie SD 14’Digital Video from VHS footage (The Matrix by Andy and Larry Wachowski, USA 1999, Dark City by Alex Proyas, USA 1998), 2000.

The cut up of images taken from two box office blockbusters seek to demonstrate that love is a revolutionary force capable of coping with and overcoming the worst state of things. This strength is also the basis for critical reflection on the reasons for making art as the new century approaches, when we can see that The End of History hasn’t happened, at least yet.

The documentary’s discourse is a result of the relation of two levels of writing: one is inherent in the editing of various film excerpts (taken from The Matrix and Dark City) and the collection of texts extracted from several sources; the second is that between the two different writing contexts, film and literature, that play on each other.

The Power Of Love, 2000.Still from Digital Video from VHS footage (The Matrix by Andy and Larry Wachowski, USA 1999, Dark City by Alex Proyas, USA 1998) 14’.

The Power Of Love.
Still from documentary movie.

The Power Of Love, 2000.Still from Digital Video from VHS footage (The Matrix by Andy and Larry Wachowski, USA 1999, Dark City by Alex Proyas, USA 1998) 14’.

The Power Of Love.
Still from documentary movie.