Gestus

Gestus, conceived by Video Sound Art, is the first exhibition project hosted in the space of the Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, in Venice. The exhibition is divided into two acts and is inspired by the reflections on the body by the great theatre masters of the 20th century (Artaud, Copeau, Decroux, Mejerchol’d). It investigates physical language as an activator of a transformative, spiritual and social dynamic. The whole project is conceived as a constantly evolving body reified by two pairs of performers and a chorus of performers.

Curatorial text

Footnotes – editorial insights

Act I: Refashioning the Body
15 October – 24 November 2021

Works by: Enrique Ramirez and Luca Trevisani
Performances by: Enrique Ramirez, Andrea di Lorenzo and Caterina Gobbi

Works:
L’homme sans image

In the video work L’homme sans image (The Imageless Man), the protagonist dances in the abyss, shrouded in a sail. The body adheres to the folds of the sea, seemingly becoming part of it, moving with the aquatic fluidity of seaweed, as if in the maternal womb. A voice narrates fragments of memory – its home, its mother, its father – which surface unexpectedly without respecting a given chronological order. The work invites us to reconsider our way of existing in the world, in an attempt to prevent the future from repeating itself inexorably. The entire human figure becomes a mask and, by disjointing itself, breaks free of the defects of the real body.

Enrique Ramirez, L’homme sans image, 2020, Courtesy of the artist and Michel Rein Gallery, Paris/Brussels. Installation view, Gestus Act I: Re-Making the Body, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi


El lamento del velero invertido

El lamento del velero invertido (The Lament of the Inverted Sailboat), the work of sculpture exhibited here, is a musical instrument originating from South America. Also known as a ‘whistling bottle’, it is a mysterious object linked to the Andean culture which produces high-pitched sounds due to the movement of liquid. Its whistling rhythmically marks the time of the exhibition and the evolution of the body within the Theatre. The work will remain on show for the entire duration of the project.

Enrique Ramirez, El lamento del velero invertido, 2021, Courtesy of the artist with the support of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana. Installation view, Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

Performance:
El lamento del pájaro y el bote invertido

Enrique Ramirez presents a performance based on the sculptural piece on display, El lamento del velero invertido (The Lament of the Inverted Sailboat), from which it borrows its name. The ancestral sound of this ancient musical instrument is produced by the passage of the air and water contained in an internal shell. The artist overlays the melody of the whistling bottle with audio recordings that he has collected from the city of Venice – footsteps, water, the sounds of boats. A dramatic construction that invites the audience to become aware of the noise that we create in the place where we live.

Enrique Ramirez, Performance. Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

Works:
Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis is a series of sculptures started in 2021 after three years of careful study and experiments. All the pieces are based on the shape of running shoes, with living creatures and natural elements (such as octopuses, shells and starfish) layered onto them, showing how the traces of the roads they have travelled have fused with the shoes themselves, as if those feet had collected the shapes of the sea over their long walks through the ocean. The prostheses made of wood – a living and constantly evolving material – adhere to the shape of the foot with perfect precision. The artist crystallises the act of walking whilst at the same time expanding its temporal dimension, experimenting with the metamorphosis of bodies. One work will remain on show for the entire duration of the project.

Luca Trevisani, Daniel Day Lewis, 2021, Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin and Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa. Installation view, Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
Luca Trevisani, Daniel Day Lewis, 2021, Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin and Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa. Installation view, Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi


L38°11’13.32’N13°21, 4.44 E”

The work was born out of the artist’s interest in the Addaura cave complex in Sicily. Located on the northeastern slope of Monte Pellegrino (Palermo), these are home to cave etchings dating back 14,000 years, between the Late Epigravettian and Mesolithic eras. These are amongst the oldest cave etchings ever found, “a molecular mystery that we cannot understand, they are the map of mankind’s desire and a collective future worth remembering”. Their mysterious and indecipherable nature frames these caves as a testament to the complex relationship between man and nature, manifested materially in the need to leave a trace of our own existence engraved into the landscape. The figures in the etchings, signs both ancient and recent, water sources and the naked life of stone are all intermingled in Trevisani’s images. The audio track that accompanies the video is nothing more than the ‘voice’ of the caves repeated so much that it becomes unrecognisable, in an homage to Alvin Lucier’s famous piece I Am Sitting In A Room.

Luca Trevisani, L38°11’13.32’N13°21, 4.44 E”, Courtesy of the artist, the Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin, and Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa. Installation view, Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi


(Don’t )Try This at Home

(Don’t) Try This at Home is a series of experimental pieces created by using the action of heat to shape and mould foodstuffs and organic plastics. Trevisani’s research tackles the theme of the incontrovertible mutation which all bodies are subject to. Plastic – often imagined as an immutable element, not susceptible to the ravages of time – is here created from a perishable material, thus transforming it into a symbol of constant change. The irresistible evolution of bodies is manifested here as both a feature of a ferocious vital impulse and the need for renewal so inherent to their nature. By combining bioplastic with elements of everyday life, Trevisani invites us to consider the body in a broader sense, including food, clothes and other objects that form a part of our perpetual evolution. One of the two pieces will remain on show for the entire duration of the project.

Performance:
Foglie di fico

Andrea Di Lorenzo presents a static performance with sculptural qualities. The artist places himself within a bush of fig leaves – made entirely of concrete and iron – and remains motionless for several hours. All that is visible of his body is a section of his legs, making it difficult for the observer to discern whether there is a person or simply a mannequin inside. Through an arduous process of stopping all movement, the human body melds into the plant body, with apparently opposing rhythms approaching one another until they fall into sync. Andrea Di Lorenzo will leave a trace of the performance in the Theatre until the end of the first act.

Andrea Di Lorenzo, Foglie di Fico, 2021.Courtesy of the artist and Video Sound Art Festival. Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

Performance:
Had there been anyone to listen

Deep, deep underground, beyond the range of any human ear, subterranean and surface movements create majestic melodies. With the use of special microphones, Caterina Gobbi has sampled these vibrations in the areas of Mont Blanc. A collection of hypogeal voices which the artist presents with an unprecedented sound-based performance, sparking reflections on perceptions of and relationships between man, machine and nature. During the performance, the artist moves around wearing a copper structure with loudspeakers attached to it. As she walks, Gobbi plays the sounds sampled high in the mountains, using the structure as if it were an extension of her body.
Caterina Gobbi will leave a trace of the performance in the Theatre until the end of the first act.

Caterina Gobbi, Had there been anyone to listen, 2021, Courtesy of the artist and Video Sound Art Festival. Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
Caterina Gobbi, Had there been anyone to listen, 2021, Courtesy of the artist and Video Sound Art Festival. Gestus I atto: Rifare il corpo, at Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

Act II: The Assembly of Actions
1 December 2021 – 15 January 2022

Works by: Ludovica Carbotta and Driant Zeneli
Performances by: Ludovica Carbotta, Annamaria Ajmone and Driant Zeneli

Work:
Monowe (Tribunale)

Monowe is an imaginary city which, halfway between a ruin and an open building site, aims to replicate today’s solitary, individualistic urban lifestyle. It reflects a way of reconsidering urban space, eventually even contradicting its own identity. A city that is no longer a settlement composed of many individuals, but a place inhabited by a single person. Ludovica Carbotta presents her series Monowe Il tribunale. The judicial body belongs to a city composed of a single inhabitant. In a world in which individualism takes precedence over the individual, how could a courtroom work? As the hypothetical citizen is at once defendant, defence, prosecution and jury, they perceive themselves in the third person, becoming a stranger to their own actions, just as Brecht’s actor ‘keeps themselves at a distance’. This image encapsulates the body from the second part of the exhibition: the decomposition of the parts is followed by a recomposition, exploring unprecedented.

Ludovica Carbotta, Monowe (Tribunale), Courtesy by artist. Installation view, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
Ludovica Carbotta, Monowe (Tribunale), Courtesy by artist. Installation view, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

Work:
No wise Fish would escape without flying

No wise Fish would escape without flying is the first chapter in an overarching project dubbed The Animals: Once Upon A Time… In the Present Time, a trilogy that features robotic animals created by people searching for their own personal limits. The video work tells the story of a fish that attempts to escape from a shark and gets trapped in a net. The net is part of the Brutalist architecture of the National Library of Kosovo, built in 1970. Since then, the building has had three new lives with three new names.
For almost a decade, it was transformed into a religious Serbian Orthodox school and later, during the NATO bombings, it was used by the Yugoslav army as a control centre. In order to create the project, Driant Zeneli worked with a group of children from Bonevet, a non-profit organisation based in Prishtina whose activities mainly have to do with technological, electronic and robotic experimentation, seeking a solution with them as to how to free the fish from the net, all whilst piecing together the narration of the film.

Driant Zeneli, No Wise Fish Would Escape Without flying, Courtesy of artist. Installation view, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

How deep can a Dragonfly swim under the Ocean?

The second chapter of The Animals: Once Upon A Time… In the Present Time, How deep can a Dragonfly swim in the ocean?, depicts an artificial dragonfly roaming around the architecture of the Pyramid of Tirana, the former mausoleum of the dictator Hoxha. The dragonfly – a symbol of spiritual depth, power, changing perspective and adaptation – echoes the real-life experience of Rilond Risto, a prisoner who dedicated the final years of his sentence to creating small mechanical insects capable of flight. Risto compares being incarcerated to living 21 km underwater, in a place of complete suspension where he nonetheless managed to cultivate his dream of flying through these tiny dragonflies. Freedom, power relations, restraint and hope all take shape in the flight of the dragonfly, establishing a dialogue between the individual and history through the laws of the utopia.

About a Citizen Beyond All Suspicion

Su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (About a Citizen Beyond All Suspicion) is the second part of a performance presented for the first time in 2019. In the courtroom in Monowe – the installation on show at the exhibition – a trial is underway in which the only inhabitant of the imaginary city is at once defendant, judge, prosecutor, witness and lawyer. A trial, narrated and played out personally by Benedetta Barzini.

Performance:
Wednesday 1st December, h 19.00

Ludovica Carbotta con Benedetta Barzini, Su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto. Performance, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
Ludovica Carbotta con Benedetta Barzini, Su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto. Performance, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

Untitled

Senza titolo (Untitled) is a performance consisting of three acts that takes place at three different points over the course of the day, each lasting thirty minutes. The space created by and for the dance uses effective and immediate encounters between the active elements, the works of other artists that adorn and animate the foyer of the Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, and the movement and position of the audience. The costumes worn, created by Fabio Quaranta for the performance, are part of the web of stimuli and suggestions that influence the actions. There are no written instructions to follow, no tasks or guidelines set out in advance. The composition is constructed in the very moment when it is acted out. The audience is encouraged to move around, get distracted, get bored, or even do something else entirely.

Place or space? Every step arrives at a place.
If you care where you are then we will care also.

J. Burrows. A Choreographer’s Handbook

Senza titolo (Untitled) is a performance developed as part
of the show Gestus II Atto: Il montaggio delle azioni (Gestus Act II: The Assembly of Actions), curated by Video Sound Art

Performance:
Saturday 4th december, h 12, h 16.30, h 18

Annamaria Ajmone, Senza titolo. Performance, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
Annamaria Ajmone, Senza titolo. Performance, Act II: The Assembly of Actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi

In an attempt to get up

Music by Giorgio Distante

Original performance
In this performance, the artist collaborates with a group of children who are not merely performers, but in fact active parts of the creative act. Through their plastic bodies,
the flight of the dragonfly – one of the few animals capable of flying in all directions – becomes a way of exploring space, of using a new gaze to completely upend power dynamics and historical memory. The utopia takes shape thanks to an imagination free of the constraints of the adult world. This new reality is presented as a game in which the children attempt to raise themselves off the ground, whilst their movements are marked by the rhythmic notes of a trumpet. Actions, sounds and lights come together to create new perspectives.
_______________________________

A continuous and tireless attempt to stand up. The worsening of the health emergency made it impossible for the children to participate in the physical exploration and play that would have led to the performance on the 15th of January. Starting from the title of the project, In an attempt to get up, Driant Zeneli chooses to propose a new performative act. In the presence of the public, the artist ironically redefines the concepts of failure and utopia, focusing on the characters of the video work on show, the dragonfly and the octopus that keep it imprisoned in the depths of the ocean. An act of collective reflection and participation during which actions, sounds and voices mix to cross limits and evoke unexplored possibilities. The rhythm of the performance will be set by the trumpet-robot of the musician Giorgio Distante, who created the film’s soundtrack.

Performance:
Saturday 15th january, from 16.00 to 19.00

Driant Zeneli, Performance In an attempt to get up, Gestus Act II: The assembly of actions, at Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, 2021. Ph. Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi


Gestus
Curated by
Laura Lamonea
Chief curator
Thomas Ba
Junior Curator

Dates:
15 October 2021
15 January 2022

Venue:
Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi
Venezia

Timetable:
Wednesday,
Saturday and Sunday
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In collaboration with:
Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana

With the contribution of:
Acciòn Cultural Española

Exhibition guide

Press release