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Italy

ITALIANIAN CHARACTER, A NATIONAL ART MOLESKINE
curated by Mario Gorni & Giorgio Fedeli

The arts have always been an indispensable medium to describe the social and cultural coordinates of a Country in time and to trasmit them to posterity, even to the crucial step of contributing to its identity and differentiating it from the contest: let’s just think about the important role of the arts during the Renaissance age in forming such idea of beauty and genius that still distinguishes Italy from all other siblings in Europe and beyond.
Even when art has not gained such importance or really contributed to the social and cultural life of a Nation, it has neverthless provided a true and unquestionable portrait, bringing in all those values and peculiarities and such feeling of belonging that actually do identify a society in time.
What result can offer art about contemporary Italy then? What identity would offer the most recent works by our artists facing their time?
In such a context, videoart seems to be one of the most favourite and useful media to take the pulse of the real and provide the most adherent image to what we may call contemporary Italy of early third Millenium.
Art investigation through the video is in fact a powerfully expressive language rich in technological content strictly corresponding to our current ways of life and communication, which are more and more involving images and sounds: an art thus capable of perfectly matching the physical and psychical realm of contemporary Italian inhabitants and their social environment. Thanks to its inner technical properties, to its being an electronic medium that can uncover, mix and reassemble the space and time of images as well as the nature of sounds, video can perform open investigations about what makes up our ordinary lives, by collecting relevant turnmoils and greatest problems and reshaping them into a direct and effective audiovisual concept that can be either spectacular or intimate according to case.
In the third-millenium artworks by Italian videoartists, the investigation of single and collective identity within the “Italian system” has become a crux: in the first decade of Y2K, they express a tormeting will to be in direct contact with the daily living, and the need for a umbilical cord to the most ordinary back-grounds and relevant rules and rhythms, urban and anthropological environments and peculiar problems.
With a videocamera in their hand, videoartists can question the most frequently recurring features of contemporary living, scan stereotypes and peep into the most crucial cracks of our customs, so to underline all relevant contraddictions that are still awaiting a reply, from themselves and the viewers alike.
On such basis, VisualContainer and Careof, two Milan-based not-for-profit organisations devoted to the promotion of Italian videoart within the international art environment, join their forces into a videoart exhibition to be shown at the Italian Cultural Institute, and presenting a most original and contemporary insight into the Italian character as it is being perceived by young artists.
The project is designed in order to be easily and cheaply executed_ through the simple projection of the artworks on a DVD conjointly edited by the organisations, for a total running time of sixty minutes to be shown as a loop on a screen, via the basic equipment combo of DVD player/videoprojector/audio amplifier and loudspeakers_ somethins also extremely appealing to the unprofessional viewers, who would nevertheless appreciate the artworks’ aesthetic and communicative exceptional properties, that have already gained praises in national and international video screenings.
Within the proposed selection, some videoartists investigate and show contemporary society in real time, thus offering a new format of socially committed documentary. Others would rather go for the most sophisticated chances of post-editing or directly creating images by resorting to other languages such as animation or television and movie found footage, eventually accessing to a presentation that rejoices any mimesis and doesn’t show the real as its is, but rather expresses its logic and properties.
Contemporary is clearly apparent in the great social issues, particularly the ones played by anyone being different or emigrant, which are sometimes filled in with empathy by the artist and sometimes ironically addressing political institutions that seems to be providing nothing but an apparent and simplistic solution.
The attempt to focus on the real becomes also a way to come in touch with the most intimate features of the personal living of other people as well as ours. Videomakers often reintroduce frames of the ever-inscrutable poetry of daily life, or rely on the world of traditions and memories, which bring them to compare what we know of our fathers’ Italy to the one we’re living in now: the result is a level of “micronarrations”, that are willing to peep into a layout of “microemotionality”, of crumbles of involvment which would lead to an enjoyable present time bringing the sunny, open and enaging Italian spirit back, opposite to all fears and isolations resulting from the technological and scientific chimeras or the artificialities of nowadays.
It’s up to the viewer then to decide whether the authors have been successful with addressing today’s Italian identity, according to the video artworks’ display of an undeniable Italian character, that can be caught in the formal construction and above all in the unique irony and originality, which once again introduce foreign viewers to the most genuine genius loci.

Care/of video selection

Michela Formenti
Senza respiro e voce [breathless and voiceless] 7’13”
2005
The shot has a slow and zooming motion that initially brings into the core of a close-up and then very slowly widens to the surprise of the whole scene. It’s an atavic and ritual complex, which could be metaphorically set in remote and restless Arabian countries. Women are walking arm in arm in a procession and while being supported by the sounds of the local band, they are chorally singing out their grief as mothers.

Alberto Guidato
Fratelli d’Italia
1’30”
2002
A performer at his debut has trained long for his performance: to sing the Italian national anthem while gritting his teeth. The outcome is hilarious and gives way to several associations with the contemporary political news as well as with the arguments of the sports star system.

Francesco Lauretta
Condizioni marginali [marginal conditions] 9’03”
2002
Contemporary art has nowadays become apparent in the basic education of the Italian population. Even in the furthest suburs, most of the Italians are familiar with the best authors. That’s why rumours about artists, even the international ones, can be heard in the streets of of Ispica (Sicily).

Adriano La Licata
il tradimento del ponte [the bridge’s betrayal] 4’00”
2008
By resorting to the quite surreal intervention of two champions, the human scenery of South Italy argues about the project of the prospective bridge between Messina and Reggio Calabria. The unusual and hugely caricatural presentation creatively mimes the crass characters usually shwoing up in the works by two famous directors of Parlemo: Ciprì e Maresco

Christian Niccoli
Planschen
5’05”
2008
Richly dressed people are floating with the aid of life buoy. The frame gets wider and wider and the soaking characters slowly multiply and from the single bather we get to the an expanding group that eventually becomes a real multitude: each one with a life buoy and his/her own fatigue, on their own with no real communication of their discomfort. It’s a community without communion and possibly mirrors us on a top-down perspective. A metaphor about the contemporary existential condition: a work about identity.

VisualContainer video selection

Alessandra Arnò
One shot
0’42”
2003
This video origins from a feeling of anguish and precariousness, from the lack of certainties. We all are at the mercy of fate. The video begins with a rotating gun shape, reminding us of the way cowboys used to grip their weapons when playing at shooting to bottles of whisky. Destiny plays in no different way with our lives, really irresponsibly. The gun shape is nothing but the sky outline from a bottom-up view through the city buildings. There’s no shelter anymore, even from the sky.

Elena Arzuffi
Domestic parkour
04′ 32″
2007
Supported by a narrative array where the real world combines with evocative animation, this work enthrals from the very beginning with an appealing resolving of visual associations and complementary soundtrack.
In the end, after pleasing the senses with a development which traps with no possible escape, the video does bring along a time for reflection about very open interpretations on the meaning of the characters, their stories and settings.

Barbara Brugola
Fingers 2.0
2′ 25″
2009
The little Amanita, collecting human fingertips instead of mushroom, is robbed of her basket by a hooded figure which will be beaten up by the unusual loot, eventually given back to the owners.
It looks like waking up from a toxic dream but being awake is not so better.

Iginio De Luca
L’urdemo emigrante
2’45”
2008
An inflated puppet is enlivened by an air stream. A very crowed provincial road as background. The song “The emigrating urdemo” by Mario Merola as soundtrack. A bittersweet reflection on journey and emigration.

Maria Korporal
Passing by
07′ 39″
2008
The video begins with a shot of the crowd strolling by and shopping on a Saturday afternoon in Rome.
Movements and the sound of traffic keep accelerating till they melt into a soft and vague reality with indistinct sounds.
This is the scenery in front of which a second environment arises, a sort of parallel world: a realm of animals – some monkeys, a giraffe, a turtle – involved in their daily activities. Everything seems pleasant and quiet. The shopping crowd is nothing but an abstract and faded background, yet at different times it intervenes through irritating fragments of images and sounds. In the meanwhile, some tickets come slowly falling to the ground. A wise and quiet turtle makes her way through the crumpled pieces of paper which come gathering on the ground.
A horn suddenly disturbs the overall serenity: the overbearing rushing of cars takes back to the stage and obliterates all the rest.

Sabrina Sabato
Tr-E2.flv
18′ 00″
2003
Like other works by the artist, this video catches up the viewer with an unusual and unforeseeable developing of the real from apparently simple and consequential starting conditions. In this case, we are firstly surprised by uncommonly seeing the artist paint a globe and then we can’t but wonder to see this latter become an ordinary soccer ball for foreign people. May we possibly see such an action of painting and covering geographical areas on the globe together with its transformation into a toy for foreigners as a gentle protest against racism?

Natalia Saurin
Dance dance dance
4’20”
2009
This video is inspired by Dance Dance Dance, a novel by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Just like the book, the protagonist recalls her life within an exploration of frozen places and times that mix up with a distorted daily life, as the result of the endless ball of memory.