'Visione Unica'1: Cultures of Environmental Manipulation' is a solo exhibition Formafantasma curated for I–DEA2, a project of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019.
I–DEA is a pillar project of Matera 2019 curated by Joseph Grima and Chiara Siravo (associate curator). I–DEA is an experiment in how archives, artistic and anthropological collections can be understood as living entities through which the stratified complexity of a region's history and culture can be interpreted.
A vast subterranean cistern made up of communicating chambers stretches below Piazza Vittorio Veneto in Matera. Constructed and progressively expanded during the nineteenth century, the purpose of the Palombaro Lungo was to collect rain and spring water for the upper part of the city. When the Acquedotto Pugliese was completed in the 1920s, it was considered the more modern and efficient solution for the supply and distribution of water. The dismissal of the age – old system of cisterns, of which the Palombaro was just one, must be understood within the wider context of Matera's and the region's gradual modernization, a transformation that led to the eventual abandonment of the city's Sassi. Today, this intelligent system of water collection and the social structures that developed around the wells scattered across the sassi seem entirely contemporary, based on a cohesive relationship between our human – made and natural environment.
Drawing upon a variety of local archives and unorthodox sources, which implicitly complicate and question the definition of what is an archive and what it means to store information, Visione Unica is an installation made up of five projections, ten screens and a small selection of vernacular objects. Upon entering the exhibition space, the screens and objects are arranged as a panorama that can be perceived in its totality. The visitor is invited to read the screens individually and in relation to one another, as one. These heterogeneous materials – photographs, scientific cartography, historical documents and interviews – are exhibited through a single medium, that of film, in order to explore the anthropization of the territory. The exhibition does this by bringing together materials that illustrate contemporary, modern, vernacular, scientific and magical strategies for human manipulation of the environment.
A projection of the terrestrial globe dominates the central part of the installation. Nearby is a projection of Giovanni B. Bronzini and Giosué Musca's 1969 documentary about the Maggio in Accettura; a tree ritual celebrated each year during Pentecost. The image of the earth immersed in cosmic darkness, produced by the Center for Space Geodesy in Matera, is an example of the latest monitoring of complex global phenomena. Yet this same image can also be read as a false perspective, that of man positioning himself beyond nature, observing it from a distance. As a counterpoint, the exhibition looks at folklore rituals like the Maggio in Accettura as the surviving fragments of a magical culture that saw humans in constant relation with the other, be it animal, stone or a tree. In concentrating almost entirely on the medium of film, the exhibition aims to neutralize any value judgement. Visione Unica is an attempt at gathering opposite approaches under a uniform vision to rethink their meanings in relation to one another. The underlying question throughout is whether by adopting this approach, we can begin to collapse the hierarchies set in place by modernity.
Notes, References and External Links
1. 'Visione Unica': 'Cultures of Environmental Manipulation' is a solo exhibition Formafantasma curated for I–DEA, a project of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019.
2. I–DEA is a project of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 that explores the archives and collections of Basilicata from an artistic perspective. I–DEA is an experiment in how archives and collections can be understood as living entities through which the stratified complexity of a region’s history and culture can be interpreted. - I–DEA exhibition film. Magic rituals, relationship between man and nature, this and much more in the Basilicata’s video archives. Formafantasma tell us about Visione Unica, the second I–DEA exhibition.
CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin
RESEARCH, EDITING, DESIGN DEVELOPMENT Gregorio Gonella
CURATOR Joseph Grima, Chiara Siravo
PHOTO CREDITS Pierangelo Laterza, Gregorio Gonella
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