Tuesday 3 November 2015

Qualcosa è cambiato. Nuovi progetti, vecchie prospettive.

Salve, sono sybin, forse vi ricorderete di me per post come The Kite Flyer, oppure SybinQ Art Projects is Born. Tutta roba che scrivevo mentre ero a Londra, dove ho passato gli ultimi cinque anni.
L'ultimo post che ho scritto risale a Dicembre 2011 e, mentre spazzolo via la polvere virtuale ed elimino le ragnatele dalla rete, faccio il punto della situazione: un anno dopo avrei avuto una figlia (non, ceci n'est pas un mommy blog. Jamais! Jamais!) e ancora sei mesi dopo io e la mia famigliola ci saremmo ri-trasferiti in Italia.

A Bergamo, per la precisione, e non a Roma che è la mia città natale.

Roba che quando racconto questo ad un interlocutore c'è ancora chi mi chiede se sono sana di mente: "Usti! Da Londra a Bergamo? Bel cambiamento, neh?" Eh. Confesso che tale prospettiva non entusiasmava neanche me, che mi occupo di arte contemporanea ed ero scappata a Londra proprio per avere "qualche chance in più." Tuttavia, poi siamo arrivati qui e lo scetticismo iniziale si è trasformato in "umh", un suono onomatopeico a metà tra la riflessione e l'apprezzamento.

Per esempio, ho cambiato punto di vista. Per dire, a Londra, quando aprivo la mia famosa bay window, avevo questo paesaggio:

Paesaggio urbano e poco attraente, si, ma vivevamo a un tiro di schioppo da Oxford Street, quindi, ci stava. Il quartiere di Fitzrovia era la nostra oasi tranquilla nel mezzo del caotico centro di Londra. Però, per dire, adesso apro la finestra della casa a Bergamo, che nel mio giudizio iniziale era La Qualunque cittadina mai frequentata del Nord Italia, ed il paesaggio è il seguente:

Photo Credits: Eco di Bergamo
Quello che ti frega, a Bergamo, per quanto puoi essere prevenuta, sono le colline. La città alta è un gioiellino incastonato dalle mura e tutt'intorno la morbidezza di queste colline, puntinate da chiesette e abitazioni, sembra quasi un comitato di accoglienza.

Ho cambiato prospettiva. Quando arriva una figlia a cambiarti la vita si cerca un luogo che sia a misura di bambino e di famiglia. Ho iniziato perfino a parlare di maternità, in pillole.  Questo però non vuol dire che io sia stata con le mani in mano fino a questo momento: del resto, organizzare mostre e fare il curatore è una specie di mania.

Ecco un progettino a cui ho lavorato l'anno scorso: www.lightingmoodscontest.com
Un parco pubblico. Delle lampade ad energia solare. La sinergia tra arte e nutrimento culturale. Un concorso per artisti emergenti che ha visto vincere la giovane Isabella Mara, che ha avuto l'occasione di lavorare accanto ad altre due artiste storiche come Mariella Bettineschi ed Alice Anderson. L'idea era di trasformare un parco pubblico di periferia in un luogo espositivo, mettendo l'arte alla portata di tutti e ponendo l'accento sull'importanza delle energie rinnovabili.

Un altro bel progetto a cui sto lavorando attualmente è stato annunciato oggi su un altro blog, precisamente Ma Che Davvero di Chiara Cecilia Santamaria, che seguo praticamente dagli esordi. Che emozione! Ecco perché sono qui ad aggiornare in fretta e furia il mio bistrattato blog, nell'attesa che venga trasformato in un funzionalissimo sito web.

E continui a portare avanti gli intenti di SybinQ Art Projects di promuovere l'arte contemporanea attraverso la circolazione delle cultura, la commissione di nuove opere per spazi inconsueti e la creazione di networks internazionali.

Stavolta, per il Book Art Project lo spazio inconsueto è quello di un libro, trasformato in opera d'arte in un progetto unico nel suo genere. Per l'occasione, SybinQ Art Projects ritorna a Roma, al Pastificio Cerere, luogo storico di San Lorenzo, sede di studi di artisti che hanno fatto la storia della pittura Italiana, come ad esempio Giuseppe Gallo, per cui ho avuto il piacere di lavorare prima che la mia avventura Londinese avesse inizio.

La mostra sarà allo Spazio Cerere dal 26 al 30 Novembre 2015, e per me è un po' come tornare a casa, in tutti i sensi. Vi aspetto!

© Chiara Cecilia Santamaria, Ma Che Davvero

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The #leaveamessage Day: Roads of the Unexpected

The Laws of Destiny and Chance are those that cannot be classified.

Randomness is something very much cherished in art: from the Surrealist's automatic painting, going through Pollock's famous drippings to mention what once Picasso is told to have said when asked about how his Blue Period developed: 'I ran out of other colours', he replied.
And just liked it so much as to carry on.

By the way, this is not a post about found objects, but found messages. Has it ever occurred to you to find an unexpected nice message in an unexpected place? I remember the 'secret admirer' when I was in Primary School. Love messages started to pop up in my pencil case or folded in the sandwich wrapping, and I perfectly knew it was some female classmates just taking the piss. I could match handwritings all right, even at eight. However, it was nice just to believe it, if only for a split second.
Even most interesting than this are those messages that perhaps weren't meant for us, but we find anyway. A lost letter. A post-it note stolen by the wind. A torn bit of words floating in the river.
A private message sent on Facebook to that not-so-famous-actor on his 40th birthday, just to let him know that you spared a thought for him and he's still gorgeous and you had a massive crush on him when you were eight and possibly never quite shook it. (embarassed cough)

It's like a treasure hunt, but you don't have to look for a treasure and you have no map. That something as simple as kind words is finding a way to come to you. Click.

Now you should take a further click, and read how come that this idea of the #leaveamessage day occurred to Wonderland. Just scroll down for the English version when you reach the post, and sign up if you feel like spreading some happy thoughts and cheers in the run up - or count down - to Christmas!

SAVE THE DATE: #leaveamessage day is Wednesday 14 December !

I like the idea of one of you, random readers, finding one of my messages. None of the two of us will never know, perhaps, but for a moment our distant lives would touch, and then turn back to normal.
Hopefully with a smile on our faces!

Monday 31 October 2011

A Story that Never Ends: How it Happened that I Joined The Piracy Project

I am going to tell you a secret.
Come closer, for I will say it softly and never repeat what I said again. My words might melt like fresh snow in the sun; they will be as fragile as isinglass, as slippery as images forming into water ripples. One moment they are there, and suddenly they are gone. You will never remember what you saw.
So, listen carefully, for I am about to tell you of a story that was forgotten, that got lost between the lines. The lines of another story. One, I am sure, you already know.

These are a character's words.
Perhaps one, or two, or none of you might remember this post and my confuse babbling about "characters kidnapping" or "destroying" me. Well, at least now you will have an explanation - and a reassurance that my mind is still here and I need no rehab. Possibly.

Everything started in February this year when I had a chat with artist Eva Weinmayr, whose studio I was visiting with one of the MA course mate. She told me about AND Publishing and The Piracy Project, something she was working on with other people in order to save a library from being shut down because of politics' recent measures of austerity. And here I can't help but wonder why it always has to be creativity and entertainment that are deemed useless in a time of crisis? What a question.
Anyway, Eva illustrated to me the joys of being a Pirate.
The Library she and her crew put together is a very peculiar one, as it is made of books that deliberately infringe copyright laws. Not just illegal reproduction of books, which is an already developed phenomenon in emerging countries where books aren't always available. We're talking about emerging authors beginning to interfere with the content of "closed" - or rather, "complete" - literary works. Borrowing here or there. Improving. Changing. Erasing.
Suggesting a different interpretation.
Using literary material, or the object-book itself, as a ready-made. Period.

"Have you ever read a book twice? Books change, every time you read them." 

And so it happened that I confessed.
I told Eva that, when I was about twelve, I took my favourite book of all times and re-wrote part of the story, inserting a new character in it. This meant copying entire paragraphs from the original book and just slid additional ones in, without changing anything too much. Like an improved clockwork or the falling bricks in Tetris, the two parts ended up matching. However, nobody ever read that because I thought it was a subtle form of stealing. You know, using someone else's characters to make up a story within a story...
'Sounds great!' Said Eva. 'We are calling for contributions.'
'Splendid!' I replied, in my boring academic English. 'There's just a tiny little hitch.'
'What is it?'
'The story is written in Italian.' I explained.
'Oh. That's fine, we're also interested in the issues of language...'
'But I can translate it.' I said, not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Back home in Rome, I dug into my personal belongings until I found the manuscript, buried under a pile of photocopied books from college's times. The plastic spiral binding holding it together showed its age signs by falling off bit by bit whenever I tried to turn a page. I recalled writing it using one of the first Macintosh computers, one as huge and square as an old telly and with the coloured apple emblazoned on it. That meant that the original file surely is lost forever, or perhaps saved on a God-knows-its-current-whereabouts floppy disk.
The story is written in two colours; green for the parts taken from the original book, red for those that I added. On the cover, printed in a curvy font that is no longer listed in Word, the title sits floating on white background in the middle of a frame-like square: A Story in The Neverending Story.

Now, there are lots of people out there who unconditionally love that book, The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende. Me being one of them.
I am sure you know the story or have at least seen the movie(s). Ende managed to write one of those evergreen masterpieces that stay with you even long after you have turned the last page. Not to mention the unforgettable characters in it. Heroes and villains so poignant you almost believe they are real.
But another reason for the book's popularity is that many stories in it are left unfinished, with the author unofficially inviting you to take over and continue - not finish, them. So I hope you will forgive me, Mister Ende, for starting a new story within your book.
It's just that there is a hidden character there, just under the reader's nose. She is like a silver shadow, a whisper between the pages, the secreted song at the very end of a CD.
All I did was just helping her come to life.
However, all a character is made of is just ink on paper, therefore her existence begins, and ends, in the space of a eighty-something pages. She is part of the story, yet she isn't. But if her story will ever be read, you will understand why it was worth writing it.

You are now looking at the final result, once the - not easy - task of translating was done. I have even involved an artist friend who, after having read the story, kindly agreed to illustrate it.
The result is so amazing that I have to show you some more:

Who doesn't want to ride a Luckdragon? 

The Ivory Tower. As you have never seen it.

All watercolours are by lovely Marianeve Leveque.
Also, I pleaded in two languages to other people to have a look at the unmistakable mistakes, and help me correct them. Well then, if I have managed to spark a little of your curiosity and you want to know what this story is all about, or want to learn what other Pirates created, you will have to chase up The Piracy Project Library, currently touring around the world.

I look at the picture of my little manuscript, figuring among more illustrious entries on the Piracy Project on-line catalogue, and smile. It is a great satisfaction indeed to finally seeing it making sense in this new dimension.

Tell me now, my friends: what is your favourite story of all times? 

Saturday 22 October 2011

Dedicated to Travellers

To those who aren't afraid of the big, heavy suitcase.
To all those people who think that flying isn't the definitive way of travelling, and confront a journey by bus from one country to the other. 
The bus. The ultimate cart towed by invisible mules. 
To the ones who sit in impossibly small spaces between seats and dive into the night, watching the sleepy, dark landscape flowing by. 
Maybe they'll dream of where they will go next. 
Or maybe these people are the dreamers, moving around, seeing friends or family scattered around Europe without minding the two or three days it will take to reach them. 

To all of you who split a journey in many legs, a bit by bus, the other bit by train, the final one hitchhiking perhaps. Because the journey is a dimension in itself, a suspended sphere, an experience. 
Sometimes uplifting, sometimes exhausting. 

Dedicated to those who consider the means of travelling more important than the destination.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

The Underground Diaries: Random

Colours and friendly faces.
Everyone comes to London for the Frieze Art Fair. If Rome is caput mundi, London is caput ARTE.

9 October 2011: Flower Power - Jubilee Line, London

Frieze's Week: Artists and Curators - Hammersmith & City Line, London

Frieze's Week: Artists and Curators - Hammersmith & City Line, London

Monday 17 October 2011

A Two-Times Exhibition: Silvia Iorio's Odyssey 2010 | Odisseia 2011

Perhaps some of you remember this post.
It doesn't say much, it is just the Press Release of the first show my colleagues and I curated as part of our  MA in Curating the Contemporary at the London Metropolitan University, which we successfully completed this year. Instead, that simple post - and show, is the start of something unique.
Something that needs to be read through the lines to be caught and understood.

But let's proceed in an orderly fashion.
When we involved artist Silvia Iorio in this show, she conceived an artwork, Odyssey, which was to be further developed in the upcoming year. The challenge presented to her to go beyond a clearly defined site, and pierce the walls of a space, was met with the idea of creating a two-times exhibition.
Odyssey is a panel with 160 coloured switches "that people were invited to activate during the opening night, on the12th of May. No light would go off at the same time, though: the artist decided to stretch this event in Time – and Space – by having the Light travelling through the Universe for One Light Year. An unconceivable distance for a human being, as it is the speed at which the Light travels (...)
Through Silvia Iorio's eyes, the journey of Odyssey’s Light reached even the most remote and unknown points of the Universe. The various stages of the journey would have been impossible to document had it not been for the experiences of the people attached to them. As part of the project, the artist created the conditions for those who participated to Odyssey to re-interact with the artwork: every 12th of the month, for 12 months, they received an email with questions about what they were doing at a precise time, what they were thinking, and if their mind and body were “connected”. How many times are we caught in the middle of doing something, but our mind is elsewhere? Yet, mind and body are closely interconnected, like the switch and the light. Through the answers she received and collected, Silvia Iorio was expanding the concept of dislocation and taking it onto new levels."*

Silvia Iorio, Odyssey, 2010, One hundred and sixty switches, MDF, enamel, aluminium and wood, 224 x 118 cm

Now, what happened after a year, namely this year 2011?
The first thing to say would be that artist and curator, too, were dislocated. The artist was in Berlin, the curator in London. The two of them were disjointed, their dialogue possible only through modern technology. As the dialogue between Odyssey and its twin work Odisseia, everything seemed hard and impossible: how can it be that two different events, happening at a different time and place, are brought together and re-connected in a solo show? Initial ideas were discarded and a more complex outcome took form, the barriers of space and time acting as incentives. It couldn't have been just the same panel, with 160 lamp bulbs bearing the same colour as the switches, and lighting up in the same sequence they were activated one year before. Very predictable.
But Silvia Iorio is an artist of many resources, and surprises, as sometimes Science is. 
Therefore, the Light manifested itself through imaginary Celestial Maps, from where unknown stars, which are lost in the vastness of Universe, shine for real for the eyes of those who can see them. 
They shine for the eyes of those who see the created connections. Light came back to Earth, and earth made its appearance in the gallery space. 21 people among many who activated the switches, one year before, were the most regular contributors in answering Silvia's question about their whereabouts. 
Their coloured experiences materialised in the form of 21 light terminals, and here the circle clicks, and closes.

And to think that everything happened by simply turning on a switch!
On September 22, 2011, the exhibition Silvia Iorio Odyssey 2010 | Odisseia 2011, was successfully concluded.

Silvia Iorio - Odisseia 2011, Installation view

Odisseia 2011 - Celestial Map, detail, dimensions variable 

As I told Silvia, I find her watercolours nearly moving.
To imagine corners of Universe no one will probably ever see, but that she was able to evoke thanks to the inspiration of Light travel and people's experience, is a gift. 
The experience of the casual viewer included, of course, the fact that seeing is believing.

P.S.: I am happy to mention another show that successfully featured the Celestial Maps, which are having a great and well deserved success: Silvia Iorio, Age of Time. Edge of Space, part of the ongoing show series Rendez Vouz Mit Kunst at the Restaurant Diekmann in Berlin. The show, curated by Isabelle Meiffert, was on until the 8th of September. An installation view is below and more pictures can be found here.

(*) Extract from the catalogue's text. You can read the full version on the Galerie Mario Iannelli's website.

Thursday 6 October 2011

The Underground Diaries: Possessions

"Please remember to keep your belongings with you at all times. Any unattended item may be removed or destroyed." I think I could easily cry my eyes out if someone destroyed my bag.

There's all your life in a bag, especially if you are a woman.

Circle Line, London - She loves London

Hammersmith & City Line, London