Sasha Vinci, Maria Grazia Galesi
Charged of symbolism, the Sasha Vinci’s works on paper portrayed birds, insects, platonic solids, men and women who talk about topics not yet overcame, in the attempt to build a relation who goes beyond the bonds of nature and the social and economic structure of domination. From the sexism to homophobia, from the relationship between men and nature to the connection with the own and other bodies.
The strong colours have been obtained from natural materials and they develop images especially taken from old magazine or chronicle events about the last days taken from the web. Human bodies, animals and geometrical shapes are treated in the same way, in a summary that searches in the past facts the roots of the today events. In the fluidity of colours is outlined the different and possible gaze.
Featherless birds shout from their nests, meanwhile the goldfinch watch over the Platonic Solid: where the matter is originated and becomes part of everything. The first “femen” are alongside the security corps who anticipate the Nazi SS, in a fantastic encounter. The Pasolini’s death is interweaved with the first demonstrations for homosexual rights, meanwhile multicolour butterflies alight on the figures represented past and future events.
SEPTEMBER BAROQUE (after W. Benjamin)
2009-2013, series of photographs: lambda print mounted on dibond
‘There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.’
Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940
September Baroque is a work connected with the projects Pandora and Ahimsa. The portrayed horse, Tor, is a pure Lipizzaner horse, that I have saved from the slaughterhouse.
The first breeding of Lipizaner horses was founded in Lipica in 1580 from the Archduke Charles of Austria, to procure the horses for the Habsbourg nobility of the court. The Lipizzaner is a breed of horse closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, where they demonstrate the haut école or ‘high school’ movements of classical dressage, including the highly controlled, stylized jumps and other movements known as the ‘airs above the ground’. The horses at the Spanish Riding School are still trained using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years, based on the principles of classical dressage.
Horses very similar were typically represented in the sculptures and equestrian monuments during the 17th century.
‘The work of memory collapses time.’ W. Benjamin
Tor, a very healthy and docile horse, dressage trained in the old school of Lipica, was anyway destined to be slaughtered.
The use of the photograph in this series is deviated: I altered the optimal values of the photo until the extreme, at the moment of the snapshot. So the pictures, taken in full day under the sun, appear almost nocturnal, and rather pictorial.
Art History is fundamental part of the research and life of the artist.
It consists in exchanging a painting with a sentient being that was going to be slaughtered: horse, donkey, rabbit, lamb, chicken, pig, goat, depending on the project.
It is a real act that permits to save a life by the means of art, without the use of money, and constitutes an open question on the value of life and on the value of art, at the same time.
So also wonders: can art really save a life?
The project comprehends a day by day action, the contracts, a series of photographs (inkjet prints on metal paper mounted on plexiglass), drawings (graphite on canvas and graphite on paper) and paintings (oil and graphite on canvas)
2008, photographic series: lambda print on metal paper mounted on plexiglass
this project is part of the Prix Pictet_Water video slide show presented at Palais de Tokyo, Paris in 2008, by Kofi Annan (Nobel Peace Prize 2001 together with the United Nation)
During my long trip into Africa I found out with sorrow the actuality of the victorian idiomatic expression ‘white civilization’, sharply described by Joseph Conrad.
Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, has been the most important slave market of the east cost of Africa. These shores had been for centuries the starting point for the slave trade.
The hegemony of the industrial countries is condamning the whole world. And it is a fact that the so called developing countries reek serious risk, and are the first to suffer. And contemporary Africa had played virtually no role in global warming, a problem that was caused by economic activity of the industrial countries such as the US.
Bagamoyo means in Kiswahili ‘here I leave my heart’. It is the name of the last African city the prisoners saw before sailing for Zanzibar, and from there to the other continents, or, more probably, to death.
Tiziana Pers, in the setting of the exhibition Marinella Senatore. Costruire Comunità’, set up inside the Manica Lunga of the Castello di Rivoli on 19th December 2013, has realised a performance titled I see you, into the space Movie Set.
“The unconditional hospitality demands that I open my dwelling and I offer it not just to the foreigners (provide with surname, foreign social status etc.) but also to the other absolute, unknown, anonymous, and that I give him a place, leave him to come, to arrive, to have a place in the place I offer him, without asking neither reciprocity (the entering in an agreement) or his name”.
During the performative action, the Pers, a strong and statuesque Friulian artist, followed by a children group, is connected through Skype with Cometa, a little donkey rescued by a merchant that he was going to slaughter it. The children are invited to dialogue with the donkey, reading the sentences selected by the artist and printed on sheets of paper strewn on the ground or talking directly with Cometa that, in a safe place on the Friulian hills, follows with interest what happens on the screen, meanwhile it eats a carrot.
The empathy between the young humans and the animal not-human is exploded immediately. Tiziana has explained them that Cometa has been rescued from the slaughterhouse and thanks to them, that in that moment they are there, it will continue to live. Not randomly, even if she knows that Cometa has been saved thanks to the generous donations and to the work of the activists, Tiziana has told to them: “Cometa is alive thanks to you”, extending to the children the concept of involvement and individual action.
Some children have cried, some others have narrated tales or have heard, but there’s no one who haven’t taken part to it, feeling, if it were necessary, that at a certain moment in the life of a future man or a future woman, in a fast, transitory moment, there’s the possibility to “listen” to the other animal, which one non-human.
In her artistic practice Tiziana applies the barter formula to an animal designated to the slaughtering, which will be exchanged with an art work. Her art becomes money of exchange, but the price of the work of art doesn’t quantify with a money amount, rather with a real life.
Apparently is a quite simple operation, which removes the animal and the work of art from the usual rules respectively of the world of art and of the livestock and, at the same time, is concurrently asking about the value of art and the life.
Anyway the deep meaning of this operation goes beyond, is in what it remains, in the result: the animal, that animal, is alive.
It’s a process not free from many doubts and questions and provocative under many aspects, but it really seems one of the first and real attempt to bring together the art with the animal world on a new level, timidly permeate of the anti-speciesism, in an era, the ours, which can be considered the prehistory of the animal rights.
It seems to me interesting to report that, in the painful places in which her artistic practice pass through, Tiziana never chooses the animal to take away, but asks the merchant to take one at random. Those moments – she tells – are occasion of great suffering and the only way to metabolise this pain is the artistic practice that, in return, conveys this suffering and keeps saving non-human lives.
More than the animal life, at the ephemeral moment of the performance, are presents the paintings in which the artist focuses her gaze in the gaze of the animal, following two processes. At the first time,Tiziana explores anatomically the pupils of the animals that hold the gaze, bringing out the subjectivity of the beings she portrays: the vitreous eyes of the laboratory rabbits are different from the flickering eyes of her beloved horse Tor. At second time, Tiziana paints the gaze becoming herself an animal and portraying the other self far away from the stereotypes that, for centuries, have distinguished the animal representation.
Tiziana’s animals are free from the physical cages, but, above all, from the invisible cages which our mind has built around them.
2010, site specific installation: paintings (oil on canvas), drawings (graphite on canvas), nails, lambda print on metal paper mounted on plexiglas, ink on wall
Walls of authority, Old Police Station, London
‘Zanzibar was one of the most important slave markets of the east coast of Africa.
The crows were introduced in Zanzibar to eat the corpses of the slaves that were thrown out to water, at the beginning of the XIX century.
The crows remained on the shores’
AHIMSA (the Mass in Santa Cristina), 2013, series of inkjet prints mounted on dibond, and series of inkjet prints on cotton paper, site specific installation and video. It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us. Walter Benjamin. Ahimsa is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning ‘do not harm’ (literally: the refusal of violence – himsa).
It is an important tenet of the religions that originated in ancient India. Ahimsa is a rule of conduct that bars the killing or injuring of living beings. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences. In modern times Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi promoted the principle of ahimsa very successfully by applying it to all spheres of life, particularly to politics.
I saved this horse from the slaughterhouse, during my pregnancy. Then I wrote AHIMSA on his side. The photograph portraits a real Mass (May 26th, 2013) that took place in the baroque Santa Cristina Church in Parma. The image printed on fabric, depicting the painted side of the horse, was hung above the altar instead of the Cross.
AHIMSA, may 2013, inkjet print on cotton paper
site specific installation, Santa Cristina Church during a Mass in honour of the death of Don Gallo, Parma
Vinci/Galesi: the emotional threads of a journey
by Eleonora Raspi
“Places encourage movement, lead you on a path, carry you through things, create different perspectives, find space inside of you and, vice-versa, allow you to connect a place to a concept, an idea, a thought. And they turn them into space. ” Giuliana Bruno
Flower against flower, green against green, nature against nature. Two bodies move slowly on a steep land, among the stones of an abandoned factory, on the rocks of a mining site, in the hidden muds of a blooming field. Light creates shadows on the color-changing and ever-moving cloak, the performer’s body carries contrasting, never-ending sounds; then, it finally stops, becoming one with nature’s apparent immobility. Suddenly, it is dark; flowers wither, the performer’s gaze suggests a distant thought, that of an end.
MUTABIS is a project that comprises a series of artworks-performances, ideated by the artistic duo Vinci/Galesi. It operates as a metamorphosis in fieri, with a universal nature, able to adapt to, and establish a contact with, every place it encounters. The uniqueness of the project lies in its ability of engaging with multiple creative mediums: from performance to video, from photography to sound, from sculpture to drawing. Each medium explores and enhances/emphasizes one aspect of MUTABIS.
Vinci/Galesi presented the first act of MUTABIS on the occasion of the contemporary art event ALTER, in the Sicilian town of Chiaramonte Gulfi, on July 31st, 2015. The artists, wrapped in a flower-covered cloak, walked for long hours through and around the streets, piazzas, and landmarks of the town, ending their performance inside the Chiesa di Santa Teresa. Here, in a last moment of transfiguration, an embrace unites the two figures into one. For their second act, Vinci and Galesi choose places filled with memories; on March 11th, 2016, MUTABIS travels through Scicli and opens itself to the gaze of director Alessandro Zangirolami, and the sound experimentation with sound maker Antonio Mainenti. Here, MUTABIS becomes a three-day journey, far from the daily life of the urban center; instead, it touches, perceives and experiences other places, particularly those that are rarely visited by people and thus become invisible to the public eyes.
MUTABIS is a process of transfiguration of the human body into a natural element; it implies a merging of two entities into one. The performer is invested, more than dressed, with a floral cloak: a habitus coming from the same natural world, which he elects himself as a messenger of. As the creative act unfolds, the distance between body and human perception (as well as that between body and nature) becomes thinner; the rough, at times damaged (although very elusive) physicality of the flesh finds a clearer echo in the inevitable corruption of the flowers on the cloak. What has traditionally come to perception as a dichotomy (human/natural) now becomes a harmonious fusion of voices in MUTABIS.
The travel that the two artists partake, including five exterior and one interior locations, begins and takes inspiration from the history and legends of the Sicilian community, as well as from their personal life. Along this journey, the eye of the camera lingers on the artists, sticks with them, not gently nor complacently, and follows them everywhere: from a distance until the moment of their disappearance in the nature; and very close until it touches the flowers and reaches beyond, and finally penetrates the performers’ flesh. The sound that is generated in the process both follows and leads the action, modulating itself to the artists’ movements and emotions.
The rapport that emerges between the camera and Vinci/Galesi is haptic, and mirrors the one the artists establish with the places they engage with. According to Italian scholar Giuliana Bruno (Harvard University), haptic implies a tactile, physical relationship with space, beyond the act of looking/watching/seeing. Through their wanderings and observations, the two artists interact with the space following a non-oppositional, inclusive logic. By proximity (the flowery cloak against the surfaces), they heal a wound that has been open for too long: the flower – and the natural element – possesses a reparatory function, and is a symbol of rebirth and energy. A keeper of a millenary memory, the flower takes charge of the inadequacy of men, and makes amends for those abandoned and neglected places. Dirt to dirt, flower to plant, body to body, in its original essence.
The first and only interior location chosen by the artists is the core of their intellectual, political, and social engagement: the former mill of San Niccolò. The performance evolves through movements from corner to corner; it watches the artists kneel, slowly, on the floor; and it culminates in an embrace – the ultimate merger of male/female and human/natural. Vinci/Galesi slowly move in the space, observing its vertebrae, its supporting nerves, the edges and imperfections of its architectural body.
At every moment, opening and closing, the sound responds; by being now weak, now more present, it becomes the voice of that carnal micro-tension of gestures and flowers. During Vinci/Galesi’s travel, both noises and harmonies of nature harmonize and vibrate with/against a spontaneous and synthetic score, which is generated by light sensors wore by the performers. As the performance evolves, electronic vibrations, which almost seem to be part of some non-human language, surpass the performer’s body and extend themselves beyond its limits. This is a vicious circle, a chase of one another: on the one hand, the sound is generated by the artist’s body; on the other, it leads every one of his next movements. From being an indigenous element to the very same places and lands we experience in the performance, the artist then alienates itself from them in order to see from a distance, with virgin eyes, what remains unseen from daily observation.
The rituals, the sounds, the gazes repeat themselves in the other five locations: the former Penna furnace in the Pisciotto neighborhood, the open air quarry next to the Convento della Croce, the clay pit in Truncafila, the stone quarry in the Giarbieri area, and a blooming field in the Cuturi area. With every movement and exchange of energy, some petals or entire flowers fall down, as a testimony to its own presence and its painful dialogue with the territory. On the one hand, the act of passing through and between spaces influences the perception of those very spaces and the self; on the other hand, it inevitably leaves physical and emotional traces of this encounter, on both subject and the surfaces crossed. Like a fabric, a texture that models itself around the body that wears it, Bruno describes the relationship between space and subject as a bi-directional, carnal bond. Performers and viewers are in-betweeners, inside a liminal space of e-motion (to move away) and com-motion (to move together), where the journey between outside and inside, public and private, only amplifies their surprise and feelings.
Travellers wore the fire of beauty is an art work in which the “flesh” of the artists, Sasha Vinci and Maria Grazia Galesi, flourishes with an ancient ritual. The faces become blind with flowers, while in the unfolding of the petals glances and somatic features disappear in search of an (im)possible hybridisation. With the return of an ancient manual gesture, such as embroidery with flowers, a metamorphosis takes place in which the sense of sacred and individual identities are projected elsewhere. By abstracting the repetition of floral embroidery, the gesture is repeated on the skin of the two artists, the image (performative) becomes an icon of a journey in the disintegration of the self: between the outside and the individual, in the opportunity of a conjunction between nature and culture. Vinci and Galesi present a new work, bringing back to the presence of the audience the physicality of the action where the limit between human body and non-human body is no longer perceptible. The research for the Other takes place through the slowness of the gesture: the view is denied, and the synesthetic and tiring relationship with the multitude of flowers, becomes the key to reading a common experience yet to be written.
“The landscape is a total game platform, perceived, walked through, thought, it becomes, for the practical, linguistic and social intellect, a synthetic and unavoidable model.
From the dawn to the sunset the artistic duo Vinci/Galesi took on a journey, through the whole town of Scicli, to ask to the people “WHAT DO YOU SEE?”
The artists Sasha Vinci and Maria Grazia Galesi – putting on a “wearable sculpture”, that is an iron headdress garnished by flowers – have moved through the urban space of Scicli, during the whole day of 17th March, to observe a world made by voices, gazes, dialects, habits, monuments, places and still colours, smells and emotions.
They have read the past and the present of their own native town, visiting again beloved and historical places, addressing the childhood memories, passing through churches, public buildings, monuments and landscapes; asking to the present society “WHAT DO YOU SEE?” A direct and instinctive, an unexpected and unforeseen question that perhaps wants to incite to open the eyes, wants to encourage people to see and observe better what surrounded us, the beauties around, but also the disharmonies typical of the present time.
A question that perhaps wants to make people reflect on the social and political issues that cross Scicli and every town; or perhaps is a wider question that gives rise to an ontological and generic argument: “What do you see now in the present?”, or “What do you see now, in our time, in the time in which we leave?”
At dusk the two artists have ended the performance rebuilding the two “wearable sculpture” with the starting site-specific installation: a red banner – with the official colour of the town – garnished by flowers and realised with the artists body imprint.
Symbolically the essence, the identity of the person are connected with the body/banner which represents the base, the place in which the identities lie and in the cohesion they give shape to the collective.
Aa a mask or a headdress, the “wearable sculpture” reveals various identities.
An iron body garnished by flowers, applied with the same technique used to harness the horses in the traditional “Cavalcade” (or “Infiorata”) of Saint Joseph.
The work represents the union: a cube shape which has on the top a square-base pyramid. Two geometrical figures tied together for describing an intimate space that hosts: the home in which the diversities was born. Metaphorically is an ascensional symbol: the tower climbing up to the sky, the image of cosmic mountain, the reference to the value of community.
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
What do the artists mean with this question? Do they probably want to know what the people observe individually, every day in the world or in the own city? Or do they simply refer to the own performance? The journey becomes a moment in which the people, shaken by the sudden and unexpected question “WHAT DO YOU SEE?”, are interrogated in the intimate and the daily and familiar life of every person is touched.
Photos: Luca Migliore and Silvia Sammito
Video: Daniele Cascone
Armed with petals
The project La terra dei fiori by Sasha Vinci and Maria Grazia Galesi creates a counter-mythology about the places in Campania that have been at the centre of the news in recent years for dramatic criminal and environmental issues. These are places where the management of the territory has been entirely taken over by organized crime. The state has utterly abdicated control, and the citizens have agreed to turn a blind eye, to not seeing or knowing, willing prisoners of an indifference no one seems to have been impervious to. Being citizens means taking sides, and not hiding one’s head in the sand: as Gramsci warned a century ago in a scathing moral admonition: “I hate the indifferent. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. […] I also hate the indifferent because of that: because their whimpering of eternally innocent ones annoys me. I make each one liable: how they have tackled the task that life has given and gives them every day, what have they done, and especially, what they have not done”.
The terra dei fuochi (Land of Fire) is riddled with toxic waste, it is poisoned, sickening, defeated by the tragic events that have befallen it. It is a labyrinth as twisted as a Greek tragedy, in which the gods punish men for their arrogance, the conceit of the hubris of those who did not respect the necessary order.
Vinci/Galesi suggest a way out to this impasse, a visual and moral one, through a territorial counter-narrative, starting from the flowers that are cultivated in Campania. They set the luxuriant blooming of nature against degradation, identifying it as an element of wonder, as the expression of the citizens’ will to find redemption. Campania, la terra dei fuochi, Land of Fire, can be a terra dei fiori, a Land of Flowers, a place for gerberas, chrysanthemums to grow.
The will to change the state of things must be ours, ours the momentum to overcome the current situation. Art which intends to change the world, should suggest a feasible road to salvation. Perhaps honesty, beauty and dignity can flourish even from the greatest neglect. But only if we feel that the solution available is feasible.
In western visual culture the flower is inextricably linked to beauty, purity, to fleeting elements and a transitory nature. Since the iconography of the annunciation has become formalised, every archangel is depicted bringing a lily to the Madonna. Like the wings, the lily is a not only an identifying attribute of Gabriel, but also a sign of good luck and a symbol referring to the purity of the virgin Mary. Particularly since the 15th century, the gardens depicted near sacred or mythological scenes also appear to be full of flowers, with even greater botanic wealth, making clear references to beauty, the cycle of the seasons and rebirth.
Cut flowers are also one of the distinctive elements of still-lives, a genre that started from the end of the 16th century and became one of the most frequent subjects of Flemish painting in the golden ages. They are at once the allegory of beauty and of the fleetingness of the world, but also a testing ground for the painter’s imagination and virtuoso abilities. This is decoration and at the same time admonishment, a secular and a realistic one, the result of a society that was becoming more and more secular and did not want to commission only religious and mythological scenes from its artists, but also works that could talk about and describe the contemporary world.
In the twentieth century, with the avant-gardes that tore apart every iconographic topos and every form of socio-cultural rigidity, the flower, after having been a very clichéd painterly subject in bourgeois interiors, utterly loses its characteristics to become the metaphor of something else, in particular of women, eros, or, with a greater psychological complexity, of the deceit hidden by the seductiveness of appearance. In the second part of the 1960s there was a true revolution with the student movements and Hippie counterculture. Allen Ginsberg theorized in an article that “Masses of flowers — a visual spectacle — especially concentrated in the front lines, can be used to set up barricades” . This is how flower power was born, the idea of responding with a flower to the force and violence of authority, mocking the police and the army with the smallest gesture of protest: a flower offered to the lines of soldiers, inserting it into the barrel of their guns. From that moment on, the flower became something different, the tool for peaceful struggle, the emblem of a season of non-violence through which to protest against both the war in Vietnam and the kind of politics that considers arms as the only tool for resolving the conflicts between states.
La terra dei fiori project displays and discusses the expressive possibilities of the flower, a symbol of regeneration and spirituality, but most of all it makes it into a political tool, that art can use in a symbolic war. There are no manifestly ideological issues in it, but rather conceptual and botanical reason: it shares the land with the polluted areas, but it produces beauty, and delicately suggests the possibility of changing the status quo.
Vinci/Galesi offer transitory visions, as fleeting as the beauty of a flower, a wonder destined for swift dissolution. In these work the floral element transforms, animates and conceals. It is a natural presence holding many meanings rooted in the most ancient mythologies. They are also the metaphor of the fragility of the contemporary world, an image of joy and mourning. Of eros animating earthly love, and peace releasing the celestial one.
La Terra dei Fiori is a series made of large format photographs, a magenta-coloured neon as a dry reminder of the title of the project, bricks made with soil from the Land of Fire, as well as drawings and documentation. These works all tell of the route taken by Vinci/Galesi using the flower to investigate the individual identities as well as the forgotten places marked by abandonment, neglect, and civil degradation.
The land of flowers suggests, in a symbolic way, the mimetic and metaphorical potential of the flower, which the artists take to the furthest possible degree. The simple beauty of the gerberas and chrysanthemums embodies the reaction to the disintegration of a territory controlled by organized crime, and to the pollution caused by waste. It is the metaphor of the possible overturning of this forceful imprisonment, it is the dream of rebellion to a situation to which rationally no viable solution can be found.
The two artists stand completely wrapped in a colourful, flowery drape, hiding any somatic traits in symbolically laden contexts. They appear like a spirit disseminating colour and a future in the greyness and neglect of the present. The drape the artists are wrapped in is hand made by stitching thousands and thousands of flowers onto ethereal fabrics, in observance with a tradition of a religious celebration of Saint Joseph in Scicli, a village in Sicily. The scenario is the poetic one of a beach with the sea and the land competing for supremacy, but most of all it is the shore where scores of desperate people have travelled to from the other side of the Mediterranean, fleeing the war, a place where the bodies of many without any hope were washed up.
The beauty of the places captured in the photographs of some of the most recent projects, is a contrast that makes the limits of the human condition even more jarring.
 A. Gramsci, Indifferenti, in La città futura, February 1917.
 A. Ginsberg, Demonstration Or Spectacle As Example, As Communication Or How To Make a March/Spectacle, in Berkeley Barb, 19 November 1965.
La terra dei fiori. Notes for a rebirth
The whole project La terra dei fiori by the two artists Sasha Vinci and Maria Grazia Galesi is a metaphor. A metaphor born of the perception of a need, grafted onto approaches, subjects and relationships established over the course of many years. The project is based on the convergence of a series of factors.
In accordance with the performance-based nature of the work of the two artists, the scenic aspect is fundamental. To begin with, the project takes on the form of a chorography articulated in different moments. It is a sort of ritual, and as with any ritual, La terra dei fiori eludes any univocal interpretation. It lives in part on its own internal truth and expresses a vital energy, a life which is almost magic. But that is not all.
The project unfolds in two places: the Sicilian city of Scicli and its territory, and the Land of Fire, in Campania. However it refers to a much wider history. Vinci/Galesi concentrate on places marked by their extremely dramatic nature. Among these there is the church of San Matteo in Scicli, the Mater Ecclesiae beautifully dominating from above. After a period of disrepair, the building was restored, only to be abandoned again in a sadly emblematic story of neglect.
Another part of the project is the Sampieri coast, near Scicli, and its magnificent beach. It is a joy for swimmers, but it has a bitter connotation if we think that it is also the place where many migrants land, and for some it is the tragic end to their journey. It is no coincidence that the two artists have chosen dusk as the time for their performance. This time of day gives the images an intimate, dream-like, enigmatic effect, contrasting with the reason it was chosen: it was the time when thirteen migrants were washed up here on the 30th September 2013.
Finally the grandiosity of the royal palace at Caserta, the venue for the exhibition, and, during the inauguration, for the performance. This building used to tower over the once fertile and splendid Campania felix. Now the devastated territory of the Land of fire stretches before it, an area whose condition is the very paradigm of a relationship between a land and its inhabitants based on arrogance, exploitation and illegality.
The fundamental elements of the project are drawn from a ritual that is still practiced in Scicli: the Infiorata di San Giuseppe. Sasha Vinci and Maria Grazia Galesi respond to that ritual not only because of its external dimension, but also as a model through which to give form and meaning to interpersonal relationships and collective sensibility. Rites, like art, are also a way to achieve knowledge, to seek meaning, and a creative field for the expression of both the individual and the collective. Not only. As well as reflecting and sanctioning social conditions, interpersonal relationships and mental patterns, the ritual action is based on the premise that the ritual can actively create them.
The action in La terra dei fiori uses primal symbols: first of al flowers, that return in different forms throughout the project. Using flowers, the artists create a series of polyhedrons, ancient symbols of balance and knowledge that have been part of western thinking since ancient times. The artists make two capes that cover them completely, hiding their individual identities. By hiding themselves from view, they attempt to create a new relationship with the context. With a third cape, they then cover the black Friesian stallion, Eros, the protagonist of the Infiorata in Scicli.
Flowers have always been the symbol of life and beauty. Vinci/Galesi have chosen to use chrysanthemums and gerberas, flowers that are intensely cultivated in both areas addressed in the project, and that in Italy are associated with mourning. There is a reference both to death and to the rituals that accompany it, and to the violence of the logic of blind profit that does not consider its lethal effects on the environment. The horse has a central role in the project: this magnificent companion in their adventure, this iconic, monumental figure, expression of pride, life force and sensibility, is the symbol of the need for a relationship of respect between human beings and the creatures around them.
The two artists entrust it with the crowning moment in their performance with the parade of the horse and bardatori walking along the straight avenue to the staircase of the palace.
Vinci/Galesi have also created a series of drawings with natural inks and pigments. Furthermore, they have also manipulated the soil, specifically that of Acerra, using an ancient technique to make it into bricks with the word “Felix” engraved on them.
In this way the artists contrast the destructive forces that seem to have ensnared behaviours and thoughts, and that have brought environmental devastation to the lands of Sicily, Campania, and, by extension, to many areas of the global village. They do it by opposing the basic module for any kind of construction: the brick. On it they engrave the memory, and hope, of a possible equilibrium, bringing forth the idea of a different past and a possible future.
The two artists respond to the lack of consideration and the moral collapse that these two areas of Italy represent by contrasting it with the collective and cultural memory of knowing craftsmanship and the recovery of the idea of relationships based on care and respect.
In being a two-artist project, La terra dei fiori already conveys a sense of sharing.
The work presents two great dichotomies: nature and culture, human and animal, life and death, visible and invisible, the relationship with one’s habitat or exploitation. La terra dei fiori is a way of tackling the present and engaging into relationships and equilibriums of power. Talking about values, or the opposite of values, degeneration and a possible rebirth, is a way of opposing arrogance with a vital force, with aspiration and desire.
IT’S NOT DRAWN THE SKY – Chiaramonte Gulfi Canto II is the song of Chiaramonte Gulfi, defined the Terrace of Sicily, because of the incredible panoramic position.
In Chiaramonte Gulfi Sasha Vinci points his gaze toward the sky to give birth to a project which becomes the song of the stars.
The celestial panning shot of the starring sky visible from Chiaramonte Gulfi during the night of 1st August 2015, at midnight, is overturned and incised on an iron disc, back illuminated and symbol of the Earth. The light that filters through the incisions reflects on the vault of Santa Teresa Church, the place in which the work is installed, drawing and giving back the constellation to the sky.
In this work the Sky and the Earth become the same element.
Following the symbolism of the circle of fifth, It has been composed an harmony, played with different instruments which represents a snap-shot of the voice of the stars, celestial bodies which evoke in the human beings mystery and beauty.
The musical note choosen to inaugurate the Song is Fa, which into the music symbolism of the circle of fifth It represents the sunrise of music. The time of the score is 4/4, since the four is considered, into the numeric symbolism, the real first number.
The melody of It’s Not Drawn the Sky” – Chiaramonte Gulfi Canto II has been produced in collaboration with the musician and composer Vincent Migliorisi.
Photo credits: Giuseppe Giordano and Alberto Trovato.
IT’S NOT DRAWN THE SKY– Volterra, Song I is the song of the earthly and celestial landscape of the Volterra town. From the top of Palazzo dei Priori tower, the historical venue of this Tuscan municipality, Sasha Vinci’s gaze observes the horizon and, doing a 360° movement, realises a wide-angle shot which sketches the Volterra natural skyline, the borderline between the earth and the sky. The layout obtained is placed on a staff, where marks specific notes, making a line that becomes the song of the nature and the “voice” of Volterra landscape. Only little alterations are overlapped on the melody.
The selected note to open the Song is FA, which represents, into the music symbolism of the circle of fifths, the sunrise of music. The time of the score is 4/4, since the 4 into the numeric symbolism is considered the real first number. In this way It rises a sound route which becomes rhythmic walk, emitted from nature itself. It’s the stone that sings, It’s the arcane beauty of a changeable, romantic and melancholy landscape.
The sound generated represents a snapshot of the “voice” of the earth, as the landscape is changing, is a shimmering element that changes with the passing time, subjected to different alteration caused by human being or natural erosion and atmospheric agent.
Anyway IT’S NOT DRAWN THE SKY – Volterra Song I is not concluded with the song of the landscape, but It’s completed and integrated with a site-specific installation in which the skyline profile is engraved on 21 alabaster slab (each one measures 15 x 25 x 1,5 cm). The alabaster is a material which enclose and express the historical identity of the flying city, famous of its shininess and transparency. For the installation Sasha Vinci chooses to light the back of each slab, leaving the skyline emerges from the engraving, in a cosmos of colours and veins.
The work, composed by a melody and by a staff in alabaster, has been installed inside the entrance hall of Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest Tuscan town hall, a place symbol of civil, social and political life of the urban community. The melody of IT’S NOT DRAWN THE SKY – Volterra Song I has been realised in collaboration with the musician and composer Vincent Migliorisi.
Photo credits: Alessandro Zangirolami.
..Here for the “reality” is meant the Kant’s word of “thing-in-itself” (Ding an sich in German), what is distinguished from the phenomenon (Erscheinung, the “appearance”), is -for the definition- foreclosed to the knowledge of the subject, who instead is confined to Ding für mich (“thing-for-myself”) that is meant the thing is appeared, what I can see and what is different from the noumenonal reality, which can be just thought. In this way should be located the Sasha Vinci’s work and its message – because is about a verbal message and at least in this case is valid the expression “nomina sunt consequentia rerum” – into the issue of Knowledge of the Kant’s philosophy? Not necessarily, also because the separation between the subject perceptions and the exterior reality is not at all an unreleased topic in the modern philosophy thought; at least since Cartesio has opened the hiatus which separates the reality from the images generated by that.
Therefore the purpose of the Sasha Vinci’s work is not the re-proposal of an epistemological “vexata questio” – already resolved at the age of the Idealism – but the definition of a more specific ethic inclination.
It’s peculiar that in a natural language as the Italian (anyway this can happen also in other idioms) the semantic field of vision coincides, in many points, with that one of thinking, opining, believe or understanding. The verb “contemplate” means, at the same time, thinking with concentration and observing caught by the beauty of something. The “vision of the world” is a particular understanding of it. The Italian expression “essere dell’avviso” it comes from the Latin “visum”, from the verb “video” (to see) and it means “have a particular opinion of something”.
The saying “non vedo perché” (I can’t see why) it means nothing but “non capisco perché” (I can’t understand why). Instead “have misunderstood the reality” is the same of “have a distorted image of it”. After all the Ancient Greeks, who also introduced the term “zòon politikòn” and outlined the features of the “homo videns”, they called the idea and the image in the same way: èidos. Moreover they believed that seeing and thinking were basically the same activity as they named both with the verb “theōrein”, from “theos – horao” (vision of the perfection, i.e. the true).
After all these observations what is the meaning of the sentence: “What I see is not the reality?” The Cartesian doubt or the Kant criticism would be transferred not on the epistemological level (as there’s no reason to have doubt on the physical outer reality or on the authenticity of our perceptions), but rather on the ethic one.
Saying in another way the Sasha Vinci’s “motto”/work wants to make us think on the separation between the image of the world, conveyed by the huge and invasive system of the media, the cultural industry and the news, on the one side, and on the other side that one should be recovered as reality, even if it seems retreat further away, drowned by false images.
For this reason Sasha Vinci, on the occasion of the “Contemporary Day” promoted by AMACI Association, would reactivate the principle of affinity, almost identity, between the seeing and the understanding and he makes it paradoxically, through its clear violation. Therefore the sentence “What I see is not the reality” would be changed in “what you see It should be also what you understand: i.e. the true. Anyway if you can’t recognise the true behind what you see, then the image is misrepresented. Thus to see and to understand the reality you need other and true images”.
So it’s an appeal to rediscover the forgotten heuristic value of the image, function whose legacy is sporadically observed in the use of the language and, much more systematically, in the obstinate attempt of art to conduct visual truths or truthful vision. Behind the criticism and the refusal of visual mystification (“What I see It can’t be the reality”) it goes forward the effort to make up the ancient unitary sense of theōrein, which, even though ancient, is still a very current principle in a contemporary world which has separated the ethic truth of the image from its reduction to a consumer product and the truth of the world from the shame that has concealed it.