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13th edition


The 13th edition started in the city of Brescia involving three venues: the MO.CA – Centro per le Nuove Culture inside the historic baroque Martinengo Colleoni Palace of Malpaga, the Bunkervik – a former air-raid shelter built in the 1940s, and the Nuovo Eden cinema, a movie theatre located in the Carmine district. 

Guest artists: Haig Aivazian, Giuseppe Boccassini, Marilisa Cosello, David Claerbout, Jordi Colomer, Andrea d’Amore, Alexandre Erre, Cyprien Gaillard, Camille Henrot, MacGuffin – Kirsten Algera and Ernst van der Hoeven, Rania Stephan, Hito Steyerl, Natália Trejbalová, Angela Xu.

BABEL Brescia video curated by Lino Palena


Haig Aivazian 

Haig Aivazian, Prometheus, 2019. 23′, color, stereo. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edition, Bunkervik, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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Haig Aivazian in his film Prometheus uses archive footage to juxtapose two events, both occurring in the early 1990s: the US technological and environmental assault on Iraq and the victory of the US basketball team, known as the Dream Team, at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Fire is the main narrative driving force: from the theft on the peaks of Mount Olympus to the deflagration in the oil felds of Kuwait. The film traces the long history of fire through non-linear associations.

David Claerbout
The Pure Necessity

David Claerbout, The Pure Necessity, 2016, 50′. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edition, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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Assisted by a team of professional animators, David Claerbout re-appropriates characters and settings of Walt Disney’s animated film The Jungle Book, freeing them from all forms of language and anthropomorphic references, in an operation of subtraction of human faculties. Instead of talking, singing and dancing, the animals go back to being bears, panthers and pythons, showing us a different methodology of listening, dialogue and representation of the living.

Jordi Colomer
un crime

Jordi Colomer, un crime, 2004, 4’40”. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edition, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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Filmed in Cherbourg in 2004, un crime retraces a true crime story reported by Le petit journal, a great newspaper of the 19th century, more than a hundred years ago. The video is a literal narration of the story: in each shot, the twelve actors carry the letters that make up the literary corpus. The actors are people from the city, which is in turn the set of the film. un crime tries to define the complex relationships that exist between object and word, narration and scenography. Colomer focuses on an investigation of physical space in its social and political complexity.

Alexandre Erre
Chaîne de montage (Catena di montaggio)
Le radeau de la joie (La zattera della gioia)

Alexandre Erre, Chaîne de montage (Catena di montaggio), 19’50”, 03’06”, 08’25”2018. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edition, MO.CA _ Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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Alexandre Erre focuses on archives and traditions, drawing on his personal history, appealing to his language of origin and his diasporic present.

In Chaîne de montage we witness the paradox of fruits that are assembled by hand, as if they were products of an assembly line. A vision of a consumerist society in which, with a view to efficiency and profitability, we no longer have to wait for nature to develop at its own pace, in order to enjoy the harvest. Fingers and hands come to life, twisting and deforming to create each time a new exotic fruit where each miniaturized part is an element of an intelligible alphabet.
In the video Le radeau de la joie a group of people play on a raft adrift to the notes of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The subtext is a series of information about New Caledonia, taken from La notice à l’usage des futurs colons en Nouvelle-Calédonie (1930). The text dances on the screen to the rhythm of the impossible pirouettes of the young people on the raft.

The Letter

Installazione a cura del progetto editoriale MacGuffin dedicata al n. 13 The Letter. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edition, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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MacGuffin is a research platform that explores the life of ordinary things. The editorial project examines the objects that surround us, using them as a starting point for analyzing the historical, social and political aspects they represent. The research conducted by curators Kirsten Algera and Ernst van der Hoeven flows into an installation dedicated to the thirteenth issue of the magazine, focusing on the role of the letter from the perspective of feminism, cultural identities, ecology and emancipation. From the pixel, the basic element of the digital letter, to the cultural impact of Arabic typography, MacGuffin No. 13 delves into the world of the alphabet.

Rania Stephan 

Rania Stephan, Threshold, 2018, 11’ 30”, video digitale, colore, suono. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edition, Bunkervik, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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Threshold takes up in its entirety an old Egyptian sci-fi film, The Master of Time, directed by Kamal el Sheikh in 1987. The film’s protagonist is an enlightened scientist obsessed with eternal life. Rania Stephan empties the Egyptian film of its fictional elements, preserving only the shots of entrances and exits through doors and gates. Despite the dissolution of the plot, enough fiction remains to make the narrative understood. The viewer joins the protagonist, Mr. Kamel, and remains stuck in space and time, fulfilling the scientist’s prophecy.

Natália Trejbalová
About Mirages and Stolen Stones

Natália Trejbalová, About Mirages and Stolen Stones, production still, 2022. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edizione, Bunkervik, Brescia, 2023.
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For unknown reasons, the Earth became flat. A researcher, apparently, recorded a film to investigate the mysterious flattening of the Earth that took place five years earlier. The film is divided into three chapters that seek to test our powers of observation and interpretation. The set, made by the artist, invites contemplation of what is happening on the screen, continually questioning the physicality of matter and its proportions. About Mirages and Stolen Stones plays with the viewer’s vision by proposing alternatives and speculations that prompt us to question collective narratives and established truths.

Angela Xu, vincitrice dell’Open Call 2023 Babel Rebuilt
tù māma (mamma coniglio)

Angela Xu, tù māma (mamma coniglio), 2023. Installation view. Video Sound Art 13th edizione, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023. Ph. Francesca Ferrari
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Sitting on the floor with her legs crossed, a camera pointed at her fingers scrolling through a document on a mobile phone screen. In the performance tù māma (mamma coniglio), Open Call winner Angela Xu reads a series of excerpts of texts in Chinese (her supposed mother tongue), Italian (her supposed acquired language) and English (the language of emancipation, learned later). Some passages are autobiographical; others are extracts from critical texts reflecting on the idea of translation, multilingualism, language in relation to identity, including Jhumpa Lahiri’s Translating Myself and Others and Mirene Arsanios’s Notes on Mother Tongues. Angela accompanies the reading with delicate gestures, using a finger as if it were a paintbrush to represent Chinese ideograms in the air as they are enunciated. The presence of Angela’s voice and gestures is linked to the presence-absence of the selected authors, creating a polyphonic narrative that reflects on that ambiguous dimension of language in which personal biography and collective memory merge.

Angela Xu, performance Let Fortune Accompany You, 2023. Video Sound Art 13th edizione, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023.


Marilisa Cosello

Marilisa Cosello, performance Replica, 2023. Video Sound Art 13th edition, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023.
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In her performances, Marilisa Cosello analyzes and deconstructs social structures, reflecting on contexts characterized by the presence of rules. For Babel, the artist presents Replica, a research on the definition of identity in relation to social apparatuses. The group of performers, composed of students from the Arnaldo and Tartaglia-Olivieri high schools in Brescia, was invited to reflect on norms and institutions, observing contemporary archetypes and stereotypes. The socio-cultural installations are spatially represented by compositions of school desks: the scenography of the performance consists of object-modules arranged in variable shapes. The intervention is divided into four acts, visual metaphors for four institutions: family, school, work and politics.

The staging of iconic family portraits from the history of art – Family and Court of Ludovico II Gonzaga, 1465-1474 by Andrea Mantegna, Portrait of the Antinori Family, 1834 by Giuseppe Bezzuoli, Madonna of the Magnificat, 1481-1485 by Sandro Botticelli – is followed by representations of a school class, a work context, and a political judiciary. In the construction of the choreography, the students reserve the freedom to identify their own role within the performance. Although instinctive, the choices of individuals influence the outcome of the work, bringing out the necessary subversive element. This component of autonomy of the performers and their interaction with the surrounding space and objects are factors that contribute to challenging the rules of the present, instilling doubt in the dogma.

Andrea d’Amore
Masala Wine

Andrea d’Amore, performance Masala Wine, 2023. Video Sound Art 13th edizione, MO.CA – Centro per le nuove culture, Brescia, 2023.
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Andrea d’Amore for Video Sound Art Festival 2023 proposes the performance Masala wine, a convivial practice conceived by the artist in dialogue with David Claerbout’s work, The Pure Necessity, on show. The intervention is triggered by the Belgian artist’s full-length film, a reinterpretation of the classic The Jungle Book (1967): the narrative leaves the screen and expands into the room, generating a complete sensory experience. Visitors will be offered a hot drink prepared with garam masala (गरम मसाला in Hindi), a mixture of spices typical of Indian cuisine, the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s novel. The artist embodies Shere Khan, the tiger antagonist of The Jungle Book: the death of Shere Khan, which the artist imagines escaped, plays a fundamental role in the performance, which relates the fire to the punishment of the negative character. A new perspective on narrative is offered through a shared experience: an implicit re-evaluation of the tiger and Promethean hybris.

Andrea d’Amore investigates reality and its social and anthropological relationships through food, an expedient but also a medium in the construction of shared experiences. His research focuses on conviviality and conviviality – understood as a device for the creation of relationships around the preparation and consumption of food in a given space-time – where every element, human and non-human, plays a relational role in the fulfilment of a certain atmosphere. Its practice aims to constantly renegotiate its identity with that of the place, of the other, of otherness. The same theme has been explored by the artist in performances such as Forma de vida realised in 2022 in Mexico City, a reflection on economic and cultural relations in a highly globalised world; The Cartesian axes and fire, where in front of the heat of the fire and through the sharing of food people were invited to imagine future ecologies.


Nuovo Eden cinema hosts a screening program consisting of video works from the CNAP collection and films selected in collaboration with a film team from Brescia. The works, through retrieved materials-from television documentation, the web and archives-reveal narratives of resistance, tell stories and open up to new interpretative formulas, dwelling on the aspects of reality that are more difficult to grasp.

Babel video Brescia curated by Lino Palena

Giuseppe Boccassini

Giuseppe Boccassini, Ragtag, 2022, 84′. © 2022 Giuseppe Boccassini
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Giuseppe Boccassini is an Italian director working between Germany and Italy. Ragtag is a film made with the found-footage technique, a collage of about 310 film noirs. The images manipulated by the director are mainly taken from American feature films from the 1940s and 1950s. With his operation, Boccassini creates an archive of cinematic imagery, in particular composed of gestures, reducing the narrative component to a minimum. The director will be present at the screening. The film was selected by the programmers of the Cinema Nuovo Eden.

Cyprien Gaillard
Desniansky Raion

Cyprien Gaillard, Desniansky Raion, 2007, 30′. © Cyprien Gaillard_Cnap
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Desniansky Raion is a suburb of Kiev, a forest of skyscrapers that, viewed from above, is reminiscent of the Stonehenge circle. Cyprien Gaillard in the film shows the decay of contemporary architecture, the modern ruins that, like rubble, return to nature. Three geographically distant locations follow each other in the film. The clash of two gangs on the outskirts of St. Petersburg is followed by plays of light celebrating the imminent demolition of a building in the Parisian banlieue of Meaux. In the third scenario, the camera flies over the outskirts of Kiev. The film is a composition of ready-made archive footage and images. The soundtrack, created by Koudlam, is a key element that creates within it a collision of references and cultures: Philip Glass’s compositions, rave music and Vangelis’s synthesizer from the Blade Runner soundtrack follow one another.

Camille Henrot
Taxis toutes distances

Camille Henrot. From the series “Taxi toutes distances”, 2009. © Adagp, Paris_Cnap
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In Taxis toutes distances there are seven interviews with Parisian taxi drivers from different geographical locations. Through a series of questions, Camille Henrot analyzes each driver’s relationship with their country of origin and with French culture. The taxi ride through the streets of the city becomes a visual metaphor for the journeys made by the interviewees, during which each person’s personal journey resurfaces. Each story offers a unique perspective on the learning of the French language and the transmission of the mother tongue to children born far away from their country of origin.

Pietro Marcello
Il silenzio di Pelešjan

Pietro Marcello, Il silenzio di Pelešjan, 2011, 52’
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The Silence of Pelešjan is a homage to the works of the Armenian director of the same name, in particular to his poetics, characterized by a strong emotional and human component. Using the technique of found-footage, the film uses unpublished material from the web and archives, mixed with sequences shot ex-novo. Pietro Marcello recalls “distance editing”, theorized in a 1970s essay by Pelešjan and based on the distancing of planes rather than their contiguity. In this way, the capacity for emotional construction, typical of the Armenian director’s practice, emerges in the film. The film was selected by the Video Sound Art team in collaboration with the programmers of the Cinema Nuovo Eden.

Rania Stephan
The Three Disappearances of Souad Hosni

Rania Stephan, The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni, 2011, video, colore, suono, 70′. Courtesy of the artist and Marfa’
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Souad Hosni was a famous Egyptian actress and singer born in Cairo in 1943, who committed suicide in London in 2001. The Three Disappearances of Souad Hosni is a composition of excerpts from eighty-two films she starred in between 1959 and 1991. The title refers to three disappearances: the disappearance of Hosni’s body, the end of the golden age of Egyptian film productions and the gradual abandonment of VHS recording. Rania Stephan’s collage work from this boundless film material proposes a singular rewriting of Egyptian cinema, but it is also a documentary on the life and work of a tragic star, a symbol of modern Arab femininity. The raw images are an ode to the VHS tape that revolutionized the wide distribution of films for home and personal use.

Hito Steyerl

Hito Steyerl, November, 2004, 25’. © Adagp, Paris_Cnap
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In November, Hito Steyerl investigated the role played by images in the revolution, critiquing the visual rhetoric present in the media’s reproduction of historical events. In the film, the artist filmed television clips relating to the episode that took place in 1998: the murder of Andrea Wolf, a famous activist, sociologist and childhood friend of the artist, a member of the PKK, the Kurdish liberation movement in Kurdistan. In the work, off-screen narration introduces and comments on Kurdish television documentaries. We find extracts from Bruce Lee films, scenes from an amateur film made by the two teenage friends with a very young Hito. The video contains references between distant territories, such as Turkey and Germany, which the artist shows are united by real data, such as the bullets sold to the Turkish army by the socialist government after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

13th edition

10 – 19 November 2023 Brescia

MO.CA – Centro per le Nuove Culture, Via Moretto, 78
Bunkervik, Via Federico Odorici, 6 B
Cinema Nuovo Eden, Via Nino Bixio, 9

With the contribution of:
Municipality of Brescia
Municipality of Bergamo
Banca Monte di Lombardia Foundation

In collaboration with:
MO.CA – Centro per le Nuove Culture
Cinema Nuovo Eden

With the support of:
CNAP – Centre national des arts plastiques

Curated by Video Sound Art
Art direction and curatorship
Laura Lamonea

Curatorial team and Open Call coordination
Erica Petrillo

Thomas Ba, Laura Lamonea

Lino Palena

Press office and communication
Francesca Mainardi, Rebecca Canavesi
and Caterina Migliore

Communication consultant
Valentina Letizia

Graphic identity
Martin Groch

BABEL XIII edition
Open Call 2023 Babel Rebuilt