unbroken lullaby is a site specific installation designed for Palazzo Martinengo and conceived in relation to the historical memory of the place, built in medieval times on a number of archaeological strata.
The project, informed by an accumulation of daily life traces, is mainly inspired by the discovery of the ashes of a child, whose burial dates back to the Iron Age.
A cot made of iron pipes, whose structure extends before and after having drawn the cot, until it reaches the place of burial.
A sound source, located at one end of this path of pipes, reproduces the sound of a lullaby, that traveling through space inside the tubes, is transmitted to the hole that opens over the child’s ashes.
The typical cot structure, that normally functions as a protection for the sleeping baby, is made here with iron pipes evoking thus the image of a cage.
The lullaby, considered by some the first form of music existed, is a repetitive chant, poetic and sad at the same time, whose forms of expression are similar in different cultures and ages.
The sense of this chant is partly to help a mother (a parent) to voice their concerns, singing their own fatigue, resulting therapeutic not only for the listener, but also for those who sing.
The intent of the project is to make a poetic gesture, singing for the child buried inside the building, but also to create, through the act of singing, a bridge that travels trough time to reach the living child, namely the child who lived, as well as dying, in this place.
The work also reflects on the maternal condition
Based on a reflection on family dynamics, in particular on the issue of the unsaid and guilt complex, this project consists of an installation made of objects, images, sound pieces and a performative intervention.
The installation consists of a decontextualised domestic setting that has been recreated in the exhibition space. Here some everyday use objects, some images of objects drawn on the walls and some objects (drawn or real) that have lost their function, coexist in the same space, creating an ambience that is at the same time welcoming and unsettling, where one can sit down and listen to fragments of stories.
This stratification of signs emphasises the complexity of family relationships and emotional communication, which is never simple or direct. The intention of this project is thus also the one to create a resting area, a place to listen and reflect, where different elements intertwine to create a complex and multifaceted narration, made of fragmented private tales. In the same space, at random intervals in time, the public can also take part in a performance.
The stories audible in the installation come from interviews on the theme of family communication, that the artists made with 6 members of the museum’s staff. These interviews, transcribed and re recorded by the artists, have been edited to create 3 apparent dialogues, but are really 3 pairs of monologues, during which the voices of the artists alternate and interrupt each other, without really interacting, like often happens in domestic confrontations. They are voices that talk without really paying attention to what the other is saying. The 3 tracks together create a sort of confused murmur, that becomes comprehensible only when one goes near one of the 3 sound sources, the dinner table, the radio or the record player.
A fourth station consists of an armchair situated next to a functioning telephone, that will ring at random times during the exhibition’s length. The public is invited to answer the phone and have a conversation with one of the two artists, who tells them a story of hers/his personal family history or listen to one that the person is willing to tell. This performance is not recorded, nor documented in any way and the artists don’t know the identity of the person answering the phone. This performative act, that takes place for one person at a time, further complicates the plot of the story by re-enacting the dialogue dynamic through a private conversation that takes place in a public space between two strangers. The telephone conversation, enabling the artists to share a fragment of their personal history, gives them a chance to get directly involved in the work.
Almost all the furniture used for this installation comes from the house of the artists, that by bringing a part of their home in the museum, question the boundaries between public and private spaces, art and life, artistic and common use objects.
Every place, whether it seemingly anonymous or strongly characterized, contains within its walls a memory of itself.
This project stems from the desire to transform the demolition of a hotel in a work of art, in order to highlight it’s hidden history and reveal unexpected relationships. Suspended on a boundary, between place and non-place, between public and private, between movement and stillness, the hotel is a spot where one lives in a different way from how one lives at home. Despite this some hotels may become, for some, a home. The Locarno, with its rooms all different from each other and it’s history, it is certainly more “home” than others…
But a hotel is primarily a place of passage. The idea of transit, of non-permanence, which reflects in a way the human nature, it is always an ingredient of these places and although the walls of the hotel are always the same, within them many different stories are experienced, even if at first sight it is difficult to see the traces of what happened.
With the eyes of someone used to see the world from another point of view, the artists have tried to find some of these tracks and made them reappear on the surface.
Crash, sight specific installation composed of existing walls and furniture, sound tracks and specifically designed objects and located in the decontextualized space of an hotel under renovation, reflects on the precarious nature of the human experience. A work in balance between the liberating desire to crash everything to create something new and the desire to preserve a memory: fragments of stories, sounds, suggestions, which make up a layered narration, broken and circular at the same time.
Inside the rooms, gutted, but still full of furniture, phones were ringing, inviting the visitor to answer, to hear from time to time a different story. These stories, collected by interviewing people who have worked for years at the hotel and the owners, were then rewrote by artists and read live on the phone by members of the hotel staff.
Part of the project is also CrashCamera, a video that is not only a documentation, but an original work in itself, born from a reflection on the relationship between narrative and architecture, the transitory nature of life and the difficulties of communication that characterizes many human relations.
Site-specific installation and performance designed for the exhibition “Autoritratti. Iscrizioni del femminile nell’arte italiana contemporanea” (Self-portraits. Feminine’s inscriptions in Italian contemporary art) Mambo 2013.
This project originates from the desire to consider the museum not only as a space, but also as a place inhabited by people that work there every day and that, doing this, make it function, insofar as site of cultural production, as a service to the community.
Starting from a participatory methodology that they often use, the artists interviewed eight women who work in the museum and who have agreed to take part in the project, telling their difficulties in the relationship with the opposite sex. The interviews were then transcribed and edited, creating a long text in which the stories are retold one after the other becoming a single voice, that tells a little of the difficulties that women have, in the dialogue with the masculine gender.
On the exhibition’s opening this text was given back to the public in the form of a performance inspired by the image on the cover of the book “Vai pure (you may go), dialogue with Pietro Consagra” by Carla Lonzi.
Seated at a table facing each other, Ottonella reads the text to Nicola, who instead of responding, disturbs the reading by turning off the light that illuminates the table, bringing thus the room to a condition of darkness. To continue reading Ottonella must keep on turning on the light. The action continues, in an alternation of light and dark, words and silence, where the woman’s request to be heard is continually frustrated by the man’s action of disturbance, that by darkening the room makes his refusal to listen (so often lamented by the female gender) immediately visible. But the darkness that falls on the room also refers to the difficulty of mutual understanding that has always characterised not only the dialogue with other, but the communication between men and women.
“Some kind of solitude is measured out in you, you think you know me, but you have not got a clue”, speaks thus also of the awareness of the mutual inability to understand each other deeply. This knowledge is not considered as a waiver, but rather as an awareness of one’s boundaries.
The action takes place in a characterised space, that after the performance is over retains traces of what happened. A table with two chairs, some everyday objects that recall the nature of the relationship, a wall decoration created by the artists to illustrate metaphorically the eight stories, a recorded voice, light and dark.
On the table there is always a fresh rose, that keeps alive the space of exchange and reminds us of it’s thorns.
Single channel video, colour sound, 8 minutes.
allontanati da me explores the contraposition between desire for independence and need of the other, that characterises every love relationship. The inability to understand each other completely is here offset by the necessity to free oneself from the emotional bond, in order to maintain one’s identity.
Keeping in mind that every personal identity is based on the relation with the other, (the necessary other), the video investigates the dichotomy union/separation as the tension that feeds every love relationship.
The camera frames from above 2 hands in the process of making a flower arrangement. At the beginning of the sequence we see an empty vase and a bunch of roses laying without a precise order around it. Slowly the hands start working, cutting and cleaning the roses, and placing them in the vase. At the end the composition the hands leave the frame. Looking closely at this apparently ordinary gestures, which refer to the ikebana tradition and convey a feeling of tranquility, one realises that the two hands don’t belong to the same person, but to a man and woman.
The soundtrack consists of a montage of sounds of falling domestic objects that break, mixed with the voices of a man and a woman who speak in unison reciting, like in a broken mantra, a sequence of sentences on the difficulty of the love relationship. These phrases, whispered in a rhythmic way, are taken mainly from two films: Jean Luc Godard’s À bout de souffe and Hiroshima mon amour by Alain Resnais. The two films that have marked the beginning of the Nouvelle Vague, reflect, albeit in a different way, on the deep relationship between love and death that feeds every relationship.
The slow and repetitive action of arranging flowers captured in this hypnotic sequence endorses the listening dimension, which becomes, as in many works by Ottonella Mocellin and Nicola Pellegrini, the predominant dimension of the work, with its different and deeper meanings .
On the other hand, only the relationship between image and sound conveys the sense of difficulty mentioned in the work. While the hands that compose the bouquet create an order from disorder and seek the union of male and female, like the voices speaking in unison to create a harmony; the sounds and words tell the story of a breech. The discrepancy between images and sounds intends undermine stereotypes linked to the common perception of the domestic universe.
Included in the project is a series of photographs that, using the same stratagem, investigate the idea of the relationship through a reflexion on everyday actions often attributed to a gender issue.
With messico famigliare, (Domestic Mexico) a play on words referring to Natalia Ginzburg’s book Lessico Famigliare (Domestic Vocabulary), that in 1963 reflected upon the expressed internal relationships of families, the artists reflect on the relation between exotic and domestic to deal with the complex and delicate issue of the family in contemporary italian society. The project develops around the artists’ personal considerations on the concept of family, ranging from the memories of their original birthplaces to their recent experience as adoptive parents. The artists examine the nature of their “mixed” family within the country’s social contest, which seems to show a growing fear and a general mistrust for diversity.
We would like to deal with the show as if it were a sort of letter to our daughter telling her a bit about ourselves, our past, the society we live in, and our work as artists.
(Ottonella Mocellin – Nicola Pellegrini)
A group of pre-school kids is actively involved in the creation of the artwork through a collective work-in-progress, consisting of a series of workshops run by the artists themselves together with the Educational Department of the Fondazione Merz.
The workshop is titled Little boxes, and it forms an integral and vital part of the exhibition, as the space around it gets constantly transformed. The idea is to consider the exhibition as a living process that is open to different possibilities and various interpretations rather than being a finished project.
Children are asked to consider the idea of home and to reflect upon their relationship with their household, bringing in their own stories and the dynamics of their family groups. Each child is given a cardboard box he or she can decorate according to his/hers vision and at the end each kid takes home the cardboard house, that becomes thus a memory of the shared artistic process. the exhibition closes with a finissage intended as a moment to show the work carried out in the labs and to present the publication on the exhibit, documenting the experience with the kids.
The ground floor also hosts the installation messico famigliare consisting of an upside-down structure placed on the ground: it is an enlarged version of the classic children’s toy house made of 4 walls and a sloping roof.
The house refers to an image of lightness and precariousness; a metaphor also used to criticise the traditional idea of family, which is often represented within a solid and stable household.
This fallen structure, that refers to childhood, is made of mirrored Perspex panels, on which the artists have engraved a number of statements filled with clichés and common prejudices regarding adoption.
While the outside reflects the visitors as they read, the inside of the structure is painted red and accessible to visitors, that can read the same statements back to front, while sitting on a little chair to listen to a story. In the middle of the structure, on a little white table, a record player plays the artists adoption tale, told in the fashion of a fairy tale.
This work has been conceived as a personal reflection upon parenthood and identity, but also on the delicate settling-in period, where foreign children, with foreign looking traits, have to adapt to the adoptive family, within a social context that has more often than not proved to be reluctant to accept diversity.
In the same space are two other pieces, traces of the artists personal domestic vocabulary.
The third piece of this personal family lexicon is situated at the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement It is a light carpet, resting on the floor that quotes one of the first sentence said by the artists’s daughter: qui buio c’è, perché? (it is dark here, why?). The words are written on the background of an imaginary starry sky, made of the union of the 3 family members constellations. In the picture we see also a drawing of the little girl’s feet, made together with her father.
This sort of upside down sky, which leads the sight to the ground, introduces, with a simple question that refers to an existential condition, the entire installation of the basement, that includes the video installation titled Generalmente le buone famiglie sono peggiori delle altre (Good Families are generally worse than all others).
It consists of a video montage of the artists’ old family footage and is conceived as a personal account made of images, words, as well as empty pauses and long silent sequences. It is a journey through memory, where confused and fragmented recollections emerge from the unconscious, as in a dream: a sort of affective legacy for future generations.
The work originates from the artists’ investigation on the complex relationship between memory, heritage, legacy and mortality and on the human unconscious desire to become parents. The video also investigates the complicated relationship between biological and affective legacy, a totally unavoidable matter for both adoptive and extended families.
At the entrance, in memory of previous workshop based projects, are two floor projections of imaginary maps of the city of Lissone (Italy) made with a group of kindergarten children for the project forse possiamo fare una mappa per perdersi, 2009
After little boxes, the children participated to another workshop with the Laboratorio Immagine2 of Turin. Here they made a video entitled The movings of Rosa Dao, in which they tell their version of the artists’s family story. The work, which is not part of the project messico famigliare, is the memory of the intense exchange that took place between the artists and the younger members of the community.