Video Sound Art returns for the ninth edition of the festival and launches an open call, in collaboration with the Restoration Laboratory of the Regional Gallery of Sicily of Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, aimed at selecting and producing new artworks.
The artist-in-residence program will be dedicated to the late seventeenth-century traditional technique of the stucco -which we are only able to recreate by studying the statues’s missing parts- that will put into dialogue the skills of Palazzo Abatellis’s Restoration Laboratory and the selected artists.
The activities will take place at the Oratorio dei Bianchi in the heart of Palermo, an historical complex adjacent to Palazzo Abatellis, that today houses the decorative pieces crafted by Giacomo Serpotta (Palermo 1652 – 1732) retrieved from the Church of the Stimmate, which was demolished in the late nineteenth century. During the residency the selected artists will develop a project in direct contact with these works with the support of the restorers of the Laboratory of Palazzo Abatellis.
The artists will realize something other, with its own history, which will not merely subsist on its relationship with the location but will feed upon the dialogue with it.
Evelina De Castro – Director of the Medieval and Modern Art Gallery of Sicily Palazzo Abatellis.
Although made of poor materials, thanks to the skillful craftmanship that executed the finishing, the brilliance of the surfaces may resemble the one of marble. The material is composed of river sand, lime, lime putty, plaster and marble dust.
The traditional technique of the stucco is deeply radicated in Sicily thanks to the decorative interventions made by Giacomo Serpotta (Palermo 1652 – 1732), who by going beyond the traditional plastic architectural decoration gave to the technique of stucco full sculptural autonomy.
Unlike the one of marble which consists in removing material, the realization of stucco is based on adding new layers.
The process -that today we can only retrospectively recover by means of restoration- is composed of the following phases:
1.Preparation of sketches, detailed drawings followed by the preparation of a model.
2. The Armor, that is a structure of vegetal materials such as walnut wood (as it’s resistant to deformation) covered with layers of hemp to hold together the wood pieces previously nailed together to support the jutted out parts. The hemp fiber also favors the material’s carbonation, the chemical process which makes the mortar malleable and spreadable when wet, hard and resistant when dry, also inside the work.
3. The mortar is molded by superimposing layers of material on the armor nearly until the completion of the artifact. After applying the first stratum, during a drying period of a few hours, the mortar partially withdraws (small cracks may form). The number of layers depends on the size of the work.
4. Finishing. The modeled work is defined with a final layer composed of slaked lime and marble dust to saturate the surface and make it shiny like marble.
Evelina De Castro
Direttore Galleria Regionale della Sicilia di Palazzo Abatellis di Palermo
Storico dell’arte presso Palazzo Butera, collezione di Francesca e Massimo Valsecchi
Curatrice del progetto Video Sound Art
Giornalista e critico d’arte
Professore Associato dell’Università degli Studi di Palermo
Curatrice della Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone
Conservatrice del Museo del Novecento di Milano