Performance Art: creative research and connections with my practice

FINAL PROJECT – CREATIVE RESEARCH

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Reflecting on my current practice, its development in time and discussing it with Professor Wendy McMurdo, I sensed that a deeper and more critical explanation of its “performative” aspects could be beneficial in the way I am presenting my whole body of work.

Lisa S. Wainwright, on the “Enciclopaedia Britannica”, defines Performance art, as “a time-based art form that typically features a live presentation to an audience or to onlookers (as on a street) and draws on such arts as acting, poetry, music, dance, and painting. It is generally an event rather than an artifact, by nature ephemeral, though it is often recorded on video and by means of still photography” (Wainwright, 2018): this general and classic definition starts relating Performance Art to performing arts, but as we can appreciate, also thanks to its evolution in time, it transcended this “limit” and started involving different art-forms.

Traditionally, it is related to the Fine Arts context and it is usually interdisciplinary, involving more disciplines at the same time. It can be a live performance or released through different visual media and in many cases it actively involve the audience, asking for their active participation in a sort of art-experiment, even if this point it is not strictly necessary to consider a piece of work as a performance. Of course, having strong experimental traits, it often transcends the boundaries of the classic white-wall galleries, in which, by the way, it can find its place as Art History taught us: it can take place anywhere since it gives priority not to the context of consumption, that often can become integral part of the performance itself, but to the message it wants to convey, its significance. It is not meant to entertain the audience but to make the observer to reflect of re-think the concepts behind the performance.

Starting from the concepts mentioned here above, we can find performance traits on my project “I can hear you now” at different levels:

  • With my still images a “performed” act can be observed and viewers are asked to participate in different ways. They are asked to observe and empathise while facing my “Sequences” and to actively participate by identifying emotions observing my “Confrontation sheets”, similarly to what done by PINK de Thierry and her photographic production in which she represented the concept of Humanity’s cultural transference. The difference, here, is that with my photographic practice my aim is to transfer and communicate human’s emotions;
  • With my video materials, that wants to enlarge the context of consumption of my work making it more immediate thanks to an action taking place directly in front of the audience’s eyes, in which I had the chance to connect my practice to performance once more by using different visual languages and solutions. An example is my “I can hear you now – video self portraits” in which I undertake the same path my sitters followed in front of my camera to allow viewers to feel a deeper connection with my stills by observing the sequence to take on a life on its own. This video, alongside “I can hear you now – emotional response”, creates a stronger link between my practice and Performance Art. While the first one can be related to Matt White’s 2008 “Weightless”, that the author defined as a use of “self-hypnosis in an attempt to free himself from the force of gravity; the result of this experiment is the uncovering of two opposing, highly charged and deeply engaging emotional states” (White, 2008) and to Marina Abramović’s “Freeing the Voice”, the second presents similarities to her “Holding the Milk. The kitchen, Homage to Saint Teresa” since, while Abramović in her video is forced to stand still and hold a heavy bowl full of milk in a meditative act, in my video the subject is forced to remain still and hold her heavy emotional reaction to my video self-portrait, while facing my grief and empathise with my feelings. I had the chance to be present during the opening of Abramović’s performance-event in Alba, Italy, and I felt moved by the experience. I also decided to observe the audience during the whole performance and while some people wanted to discuss it while it was taking place, some other remained silent, ecstatic, while observing the scene: everyone was deeply involved even though in different ways. My hope, creating this video, was to register the emotional response of my audience to my practice and, at the same time, to create a performance that could allow who is watching it to face the emotion of an individual who is facing my emotions, creating different levels (and layers) of meaning;

Matt White, Weightless, 2008, UK. ©Matt White, 2008.

 

Marina Abramović, Freeing the Voice, 1976, Budapest, Hungary. ©Marina Abramović, 1976.

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Marina Abramović, Holding the Milk. The kitchen, Homage to Saint Teresa, official leaflet of the event curated by Ceretto Family, including information related to the permanent exhibition at La Piola, 2017, Coro della Chiesa della Maddalena, Alba, Italy. Slideshow. ©Ceretto Family, 2017.

  • My “Twelve episodes” in which the actual becomes photography, represent in self-portraits form different moments after long periods of suffering and the relationship with my companion through a visual dialogue. As we can read into the article “Performance Art Movement Overview and Analysis” on “The Art History. Modern Art Insight”, this section of my work can be linked to Process Art, “often intrigued by the possibilities of mundane and repetitive actions” (Butler, 2018). As we can read into their definition of Process Art, “When Harold Rosenberg coined the term “Action Painting,” he was emphasizing the importance of not the artwork itself – the objet d’art – but the process by which the work was made. Thus, Process Art refers to the actions or, in some cases, the performance of creating a work of art. The actual term was popularized by Robert Morris for a 1968 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum” (Butler, 2018). In this “Step” of my project, what matters is not only the subject matter itself, but also, to use Morris’ words, the process by which I created those images. Moreover, this section can be also related to 1970s Performance artworks in which we can observe the incorporation of the autobiography;
  • My short documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, can be considered as almost pure Performance Art. Alongside narration and interviews, there are visual experiments, which I analysed more in details into my previous article “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]: a deeper analysis and a first recognition”, that want to re-enact the actual in a symbolic way. One sequence especially has been inspired by Michael Betancourt’s “Dancing Glitch” its the author defines as “a 2.5 minute long movie that is based around footage from the Louis Lumière film Danse serpentine, vue no. 76, featuring the American dancer/choreographer Loïe Fuller, shot in 1896” (Betancourt, 2013).

Michael Betancourt, Dancing Glitch, 2013, USA. ©Michael Betancourt, 2013.

Performance Art has its origins in the works of Futurist, Dadaists and Surrealists artists, who often accompanied their works with performances that were something in between vaudeville comedies and political demonstrations: this demonstrates the mentioned intention to focus on contents that are relevant to modern Society and on their meaning more broadly.

First International Dada Fair-Berlin-1920_Courtesy of Hannah Hoch

Hannah Höch, Dada Exhibit, at the First International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920. ©Hannah Höch, 1920.

After the World War II, many artists decided to step into the political discourse and artistically demonstrate with their practice their thoughts about the Society they were living in. All around the world, from the US, to Europe, to Asia, in different ways and forms artists became more concerned in transforming their artworks into statements. From body art to Feminist movements, creative minds decided to use different media and artistic solution to demonstrate their emotional frustration and to fight social injustice. As “The Art History. Modern Art Insight” stated about Feminist movement in the world of art, “This permitted rage, lust, and self-expression in art by women, allowing them to speak and be heard as never before. Women performers seized an opportune moment to build performance art for themselves, rather than breaking into other already established, male-dominated forms. They frequently dealt with issues that had not yet been undertaken by their male counterparts, bringing fresh perspectives to art” (Butler, 2018). This chapter discusses Performance art during the 1960s and 1970s, and it is terrible to me, as a woman, to realise that after forty years nothing changed. We can still observe a male dominated world in which the same act performed by a man and by a woman is interpreted in two different ways. During the late 1980s, Guerrilla Girls, an American group of female art activists, wanted to bring “attention to women artists and artists of colour and exposing the domination of white males in the art establishment” (Enciclopaedia Britannica, 2018). Their Movement, including anonymous artists and professionals who called themselves using the names of influential women artists of the past, arouse after they noticed that into the MoMA’s exhibition “An International Survey of Painting and Sculpture” only 13 out of more than 160 artists were female. Their intervention, alongside the one of other activists in history, induced the MoMa of New York itself to create an exhibition in 2015, titled “Messing with MoMA: Critical Interventions at the Museum of Modern Art, 2939 – Now”, organised by Jennifer Tobias, Reader Services Librarian at MoMA. As described on the dedicated page of the museum’s website, “As an institution dedicated to ever-changing art forms, MoMA consistently attracts direct engagement. This exhibition documents seven decades of interventions by artists, the general public, and even MoMA staff, ranging from manifestos and conceptual gestures to protests and performances. “Messing” connotes the variety of these actions, which question, play with, provoke, subvert, and comment on the paradox of institutionalizing radical art” (Tobias, 2015). Thanks to this exhibition, that created a performance out of different performance actions in time, we can see how artists, but also common people as well, during the history of the museum decided to manifest their thought and express their personal or artistic “unacceptance” while facing the predominant artistic environment.

But Is It Art MoMA

Anonymous, Image published on “But Is It Art?” in New York Daily News, August 25, 1969. ©New York Daily News, 1969.

Another brilliant contribution to Feminism has been created by the Artist Judy Chicago at The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 1974-79. In her installation, form of art strictly connected to Performance Art, a massive triangular table organised in thirty-nine place settings, each one commemorating an important woman in history. As we can read on the website of the Brooklyn Museum, “The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with raised central motifs that are based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. This permanent installation is enhanced by rotating Herstory Gallery exhibitions relating to the 1,038 women honored at the table” (Brooklyn Museum, 2018). This installation, represents the arise of “Women’s Liberation” Movement in the West Coast of United Stated during the 1970s.

judy chicago

Judy Chicago (American, born 1939). The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. ©Judy Chicago. Photo by Donald Woodman.

But, in my opinion, female Performance Art definitely crossed its boundaries with the work done by Yoko Ono, starting from her “Cut Piece” and with Marina Abramović and her series “Rhythms”. “Cut Piece” and “Rhythm 0” are quite similar in the way they are structured. In Ono’s performance, debuting in Kyoto in 1964, the artists, sitting on a stage, provided clear instructions to the audience: they could approach her one a time and cut a small piece of her best dress. We can observe that while some people of the audience resulted hesitant, some others decided to dare more and started ripping her blouse and even her bra. The performance ended at the artists discretion. As we can read on MoMa Learning, “It is the realization of what she calls a ‘score’, a set of written instructions that when followed result in an action, event, performance, or some other kind of experience. As with most of her work—which also encompasses music, poetry, film, sculpture, installation, paintings events—the participation of others is often key. Equally conceptual and physical, Cut Piece relies upon audiences’ willingness to interpret and follow the instructions outlining their role. Though participatory art is now more common, Ono was among its pioneers. In works like Cut Piece, she invites viewers to become agents in the creation of art” (MoMa Learning, 2018). Without audience’s participation, this work would not be complete and could not take place.

Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1965, at Carnegie Hall, New York, USA. Filmed by documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles. ©Yoko Ono/Maisles, 1965.

Slightly different the case of “Rhythm 0” that took place at Studio Morra in Naples, Italy, in 1974. Abramović placed on a table a series of tools of pleasure or pain and she passively allowed the audience to actively interact with her body in any way they wanted. The experiment has suddenly been ended by the organisers, when some participants became more and more violent, cutting the artist’s dress, skin and also placing a loaded gun into her hand. The peculiar fact was that this occurred while she was able to maintain a completely passive behaviour, but as soon as she became “conscious” again  and she started to interact with the attendees, their dare suddenly disappeared and, to use Abramović’s words “everybody ran away” (Abramović, 2013). They could not confront her as a real person after what happened.

Marina Abramović, Marina Abramovic on Rhythm 0 (1974), 2013, Directed, Produced, and Edited by Milica Zec, USA. Video released on YouTube, May 2017. ©MAI, Marina Abramovic Institute.

Connecting the concept of “Feminist art” but also moving forward from this topic, in my project, anyone can appreciate a predominance of female subjects: this was not a choice, since I have been asking both men and women to be portrayed. What I could notice is that men have been less receptive in expressing their frailty but, at the same time, since my practice is focused on emotions, Mental Health and social problems, I had to face a further obstacle: the fear of being judged by viewers and this is something that involved men and women at the same level. We think that in 2018 people are open to a constructive dialogue around these concepts, but this is not true, because in reality Mental Health related topics are still a taboo in our culture. People don’t focus their attention on the word “Health”, but on “Mental” and this still induce many individual to avoid an open confrontation having a falsified perception of what is under discussion, like if this topic can be only correlated to madness and not also to those “minor” issues we have to face every single day: like grief, pain, solitude, social exclusion, bullism or traumas. This is why the performance is so important into my practice that I decided, during the opening night of my solo exhibition and FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence, Asti, Italy, to ask a woman to be photographed while releasing her negative emotions through as scream. I waited for the room to be full of people focused on my stills, videos and activities in order to silently start photographing her. I wanted viewers to be “surprised” and have a genuine reaction to the performed action. Unfortunately, since I was busy in portraying my sitter, I had no chance to portray the reaction of viewers and I only have photos of me and my subject during the live performance made by my companion, again, and by the Staff.

fuoriluogo2

Dayana Marconi, I can hear you now art exhibition, June 2018, Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, Asti, Italy. ©Dayana Marconi/Matteo Conti, 2018.

There is still a great need of Performance in the world of art, there is a huge need of artists willing to defy those social habits that transform these issues in something awkward and this is why Performance Art is so important in my practice as well due to its subject matter. These artists are simply individuals who want to creatively say “No” to the current social situation and honestly, with my work I want to become one of them. “Instead of seeking entertainment, the audience for performance art often expects to be challenged and provoked. Viewers may be asked to question their own definitions of art, and not always in a comfortable or pleasant manner. As regards style, many performance artists do not easily fall into any identified stylistic category, and many more still refuse their work to be categorized into any specific sub-style. The movement produced a variety of common and overlapping approaches, which might be identified as actions” (Butler, 2018), this is why many artists can be liked to different categories since they use different artistic solutions in their practice at the same time. The term “Action” is the one that could include all artists into a category only: the action is what connect to the audience since, as previously mentioned, often Performance artists ask them to actively participate to their creative experiments.

Artists who definitely took action have been Gilbert and George, who adopted the slogan “Art for all”, having an openly anti-elitist approach to art. This concept has also been fundamental, for instance, in the creation of “I AM HERE – HERE I AM” art event, created in collaboration with Maryann Morris, Nathan Wacey, Ed Sykes and Will Wright. Working as a collective, we decided to completely rethink the space in which art should be consumed and to have the same anti-elitist attitude while considering how to create and manage the whole event. Gilbert and George’s practice involved a great variety of media. From live performances, like their 1970 “The singing sculpture” in which their covered their hands and heads in metalised powders and, sitting at a table, started singing “Underneath the Arches” by Flanagan and Allen several times during the same day, to photography with their 1971-2005 series “The Pictures”, that they described as a “visual love letter from us to the viewer” (Gilbert and George, 2007). In their interview to “Italy Magazine”, they also added “”We are dealing with universal subjects: death, hope, life, fear, sex, money, race, religion – these are all things that are relevant to everybody” (Gilbert and George, 2007). The two artists often appear as subjects of their stills, often in a very provoking way, like in the case of the photograph titled “Shitty Naked Human World”, in which the artists portrayed themselves nude alongside images of giant pieces of faeces. They are the artists who represent, in my opinion, the perfect bond of Performance Art and photography, that in time remained their predominant form of artistic expression.

Many artists in time had an important role in Performance Art, like Spalding Gray with his famous Comedy monologues; Laurie Anderson, the American avant-garde artist who, in her “Duets on Ice”, played her violin while wearing ice skates frozen in a block of ice until it melted; HA Schult, who hired a stunt pilot to crash an aircraft on a landfill in Staten Island to send the video via satellite to Kassel during Documenta VI in 1977 and PINK de Thierry, who created the MWC, Man-Woman-Child, to symbolically represent a constant in cultural transference, experimenting with photo and video art, installations in public spaces and performances. What matters, in my opinion, is that Performance Art, with its provoking attitude, will continue to defy viewers and Modern Society, employing no matter what medium or style: what truly matters is “The Message” and human being, nowadays, definitely still need charismatic figures able to use art to open minds and move consciences generating a stronger sense of awareness in the audience.

 

References:

Abramović Marina, Freeing the Voice, 1976, Budapest, Hungary. Video available released YouTube in 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBVzJI6m72A

Abramović Marina, Holding the Milk. The kitchen, Homage to Saint Teresa, 2017, curated by Marina Abramović  and Ceretto Family, Coro della Chieda della Maddalena, Alba, Italy.

Abramović Marina, Rhythm 0, 1974, Studio Morra, Naples, Italy.

Anderson Laurie, official website http://www.laurieanderson.com/

Betancourt Michael, Dancing Glithc, 2013, USA, video released on Batancourt’s official Vimeo account “Cinegraphic” https://vimeo.com/56486626

Butler Anne Marie, Performance Art, Performance Art Movement Overview and Analysis, on The Art History. Modern Art Insight, 2018, Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors, Accessed 19 Jul 2018, https://www.theartstory.org/movement-performance-art.htm

De Thierry PINK, L’Art du Bonheur: Man Woman Child series, 1980–1990, various locations.

Gray Spalding, official website https://www.spaldinggray.com/

Italy Magazine Team, Gilbert & George deshock at Rivoli, on Italy Magazine, October 2007 issue http://www.italymagazine.com/italy/marche/gilbert-george-deshock-rivoli

Höch Hannah, Dada Exhibit, at the First International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920. Artist’s page on Enciclopaedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hannah-Hoch

MAI, Marina Abramović Institute, Official website https://mai.art/about-mai/

Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now, project’s official website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

Marconi Dayana S., [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]: a deeper analysis and a first recognition, on Dayana Marconi CRJ, July 2018 issue https://daybydaydayana.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/%c9%aa%cb%88ma%cb%90-%c9%a1o%cb%90-a-deeper-analysis-and-a-first-recognition/

Marconi Dayana S., [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], April/May 2018, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/269339225

Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now – emotional response, November 2017, Asti/Turin, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/241800018

Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now – video self-portrait, March 2017, Asti/Turin,  released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/208347694

Marconi Dayana S./Morris Maryann/Sykes Ed/Wacey Nathan/Wright Will, I AM HERE – HERE I AM, art event that took place at The Studio, Marks Tey, Essex, UK. Official website created and managed by Maryann Morris https://iamhereexhibit.wordpress.com/

MoMa Learning, Cut Piece. Yoko Ono. 1964 Performance, 2018, on Learning area of MoMa, New York, official website https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/yoko-ono-cut-piece-1964

Ono Yoko, Cut Piece, 1965, Carnegie Hall, New York, USA. Filmed by Albert and David Maysles.

Schult HA, official website http://www.haschult.de/

Tobias Jennifer, Messing with MoMA: Critical Interventions at the Museum of Modern Art, 2939 – Now, 2015, exhibition at MoMA, New York, USA. Information available on MoMA official website https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2015/messingwithmoma/

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Guerrilla Girls,  on The Encyclopaedia Britannica, April 1999 issue https://www.britannica.com/topic/Guerrilla-Girls

The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, exhibition’s page on the Brooklyn Museum official website https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/dinner_party

Wainwright Lisa S., Performance Art, on The Encyclopaedia Britannica, March 2008 issue https://www.britannica.com/art/performance-art

White Matt, Weightless, 2008, available on Matt White official website http://www.matt-white.org/projects.html

Documentary as a form of Art

FINAL PROJECT – CREATIVE RESEARCH

With the developments of media in these last years, documentary became an experimental filmic experience. According to Marco Bertozzi, author of “Documentario come Arte”, title that can be translated in English as “Documentary as Art”, its relationship with visual arts got stronger until making the related terminologies becoming “blurred”. According to his opinion, today with “Documentary” we mean a series of filmic modalities to relate with the complexity of the actual, aware that we are facing a form of Cinema in transition from the creation of realistic images, interpreted in the most traditional way, to cinematographic images that makes viewers “feeling with eyes”.

As Aline Caillet stated in her  2014 “Dispositif critiques. Le Documentaire, du cinéma aux arts visuels”, as a genre, documentary became “une pratique hybride qui mêle cinéma, vidéo et performance, qui se confronte à l’expérimental et s’affranchit souvent de la relation authentique au réel qu’il devrait portant garantir” (Caillet, 2014). With her words, Caillet meant that it became an hybrid practice mixing cinema, video and performance art and that confronts itself with the experimental and that often overcomes the authentic relation with reality that it should guarantee.  Moreover, Bertozzi remembers us that, thanks to the emerging “re-use” techniques, a fundamental aspects of the relationship between documentary and contemporary art emerges: a sort of inner “fight” that subvert the traditional fields of research. The re-elaborate potential of Cinema, according to the author, is a propulsive force that subtracts images from a linear story and throws them into a condition of elective materials that can be used to generate a reflection free of prejudices of their destination. This is a concept we also had the chance to analyse in relation to still images discussing “re-photography” with Professor Gary McLeod during the “Surfaces and Strategies” Module of our MA Photography at Falmouth, demonstrating that this technique can be applied to different media and forms of art.

The relationship between documentary and art definitely tied the knot in 2002 with “Documenta 11” exhibition in Kassel. Okwui Enwezor, its Artistic Director, in his preface to the exhibition’s catalogue declared that almost fifty years after its founding, Documenta found itself confronted once again with the specters of yet another turbulent time of unceasing cultural, social, and political frictions. In order to meet the challenge of making a meaningful articulation of the possibilities of contemporary art in such a climate, Documenta 11 was presented in a series of five Platforms of public discussions, conferences, workshops, books, and film and video programs. ‘In a sense, then, Documenta 11’s five Platforms, in a paradoxical but necessary critical move, begin with a series of deterritorializations which not only intervene in the very historical location of Documenta in Kassel but also emblematize the mechanisms that make the space of contemporary art one of multiple ruptures.” (Enwezor, 2002).

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Hatje Cantz Verlag, Documenta 11_Platform 5: Exhibition Catalogue, preface written by the Artistic Director Okwui Enwezor, 2002,  published by Hatje Cantz, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany. Images from the online catalogue on Documenta website. Slideshow. ©Documenta, 2002.

As we can read into the area “Works in Kassel” of Documenta’s website, “In search of opportunities for greater social impact, art reacts to an increasing extent to its socially defined environment as a means of gaining new credibility beyond the boundaries of the exhibition context” (Documenta, 2018): this can be applied to what happened in the development of documentary in time. While filmmakers tried to enrich their films opening themselves to Contemporary Art, visual artists explored the language of Cinema in their experiments. Boundaries became more and more ephemeral and, as Caillet remembered, documentary started to move from a status of mere representation of the real world to an expressive form used to “create” the actual. Documentary creates like philosophy, physics and painting. Again, Bertozzi stated, as Montani confirmed in 2017, that like during a dreamlike experience we are ask to pay an interpretative attention to details, the documentary experience requires the admission of an investment on a symbolic level. This is why, as we can appreciate reading Anna Raczynski’s essay “The moving Image: Expanded Documentary Practice in Contemporary Art”, published in Sztuka i Dokumentacja, “Art works realised during this period include a diverse range of forms, including ‘mokumentaries’, film or photography essays as well as found footage reportages” (Raczynski, 2013). In my opinion, this means that the diversity of uses and interpretations generated a wider range of art-forms that dramatically transformed the documentary itself.

A brilliant example of mokumentary is the one accompanying Damien Hirst’s 2017 exhibition “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” at Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy. Hirst used it to narrate the story of the discovery and the rescue of fake statues sunk during the shipwreck of the Unbelievable. As we can read on Palazzo Grassi’s website, this has been “Damien Hirst’s most ambitious and complex project to date, ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ has been almost ten years in the making. Exceptional in scale and scope, the exhibition tells the story of the ancient wreck of a vast ship, the ‘Unbelievable’ (Apistos in the original Koine Greek), and presents what was discovered of its precious cargo: the impressive collection of Aulus Calidius Amotan – a freed slave better known as Cif Amotan II – which was destined for a temple dedicated to the sun” (Palazzo Grassi/Punta della Dogana, 2017) and it has been displayed across a 5000 square meters space.

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Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, 2017, Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy. “Demon with bowl”, “Skull of a Cyclops” and “Skull of a Cyclopes examined by a Diver”, “Sphinx”. Images from the exhibition available on Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana official website. ©Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Into the mokumentary, we can observe the team of researchers identifying Amotan’s shipwreck under the surface of the Indian Ocean, but in order to retrieve the sunken spoils, they needed a benefactor and this is when Hirst’s role entered into the narration. The film, including in its cast a both experts and actors, has been directed by Sam Hobkinson and produced by Hirst and Oxford Films and at the beginning of 2018 it has been released on Netflix. Again, we can appreciate a merger of the spaces in which a mokumentary can be consumed by the audience: before during and art exhibition and the following year on an online streaming platform alongside many other genres of films, from fiction to traditional documentaries.

Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, 2018, Netflix Trailer. ©Damien Hirst/Oxford Films, 2017/2018.

Nowadays, I can affirm that cinema has been fully included into the museum-circuit, thanks to those visual experiments that make viewers and curators to reconsider the spaces in which it is generally consumed. In 1996, the massive exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles “Art and Film since 1945: Hall of Mirrors” explored the deep and sometimes difficult relationship between cinema and the visual arts in the post-war era. It examined the mutual relationship between film and art, and how they influenced each other to generate new forms of artistic expression. Many famous artists coming from a wide range of art-fields have been exhibited and subsequently featured into the official exhibition-catalogue: artists like Joseph Cornell, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, Richard Hamilton, Diane Arbus, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari and Cindy Sherman. To quote the Artistic Director of the exhibition Kerry Brougher, this exhibition demonstrated that “to deconstruct cinema is to investigate a culture defined to a large degree by the cinematic experience. .. Since mid-century, artists have created work which often allows us to enter the film apparatus” (Brougher, 1996).

Russell Ferguson and Kerry Brougher, Art and film since 1945 : Hall of mirrors, 1996, Museum of Contemporary Art/ Monacelli Press, Los Angeles/New York. ©Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles, 1996.

What emerges from Philippe Dubois consideration in his “Le cinema exposé. Essai de categorisation”, is an “extended” concept of documentary, as also reported by Bertozzi in his “Documentario come Arte” is that as soon as we experience the documentary in a museum context that allows us to re-observe it not as entertainment but as a “support”: we can comprehend not only its narration, but also those psychological, historical, spatial and  conceptual elements.

According to Jean-Louis Comolli, what we call “Documentary” is a form of Cinema that faces our individual, social, public and private realities, taking a risk, being less shielded than fiction which operates from a “bigger distance”. This genre involves different cultural fields and languages in a constant confrontation between the author and the viewer.

Self-narration received a strong stimulus from digital technologies and the narrator’s relation with the world became a proper art performance thanks to “elements like improvisation, the involvement of the audience and multimedia techniques” (Bruzzi, 2000) Moreover, during the 1970s performance art self-affirmed as an experience that can lead to a transformative act. In some cases, the narration lose its authoritative role and, through elements like variation in the vocal range, it started representing a non-protected area of the actual. The narrator changed timbre and doing so “it changed the documentary Cinema, multiplying the possibilities of relationship with the image: sometimes refuting it, some others working in accordance with it, some others illustrating the concealed, the occult, the subterranean” (Bertozzi, 2018). According to the author and like in the case of my short documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, this form of Cinema moderates the actual to relive it in a unprotected area that required the active presence of the director. The author also mentioned Giorgio Agamben’s words “l’arte non è che il modo in cui l’anonimo che chiamiamo artista, mantenendosi costantemente in relazione con una pratica, cerca di costituire la sua vita come una forma di vita… in cui, come ogni forma di vita, è in questione nulla di meno che la sua felicità” (Agamben, 2016), meaning that art is nothing more than the way in which the anonymous that we call artist, maintaining a constant relationship with his practice, tries sto build his life as a “form of life”… in which, like for any other form of life, the heart of the matter is nothing less than his own happiness. Bertozzi calls it a “ludic simulation” with a great hermeneutical value, an explicit ‘mise-en-scene’ able to transcend the opposition between the actual an the fiction. Like in the case of my piece of work, in his opinion the declared re-enactment/fiction enables viewers to scan and observe traumas, epiphanies or disturbing horizons since a reinvented act can plumb deeper recesses.

A brilliant example of the mentioned concept of reenactment is Cosimo Terlizzi’s “L’uomo doppio”. About his practice, Terlizzi said: “ho concentrato lo sguardo sulla mia vita sentimentale e sul mio lavoro di artista; mi sono usato come cavia per indagare le luci e le ombre della personalità con la volontà di far emergere un’indagine sulla natura stessa dell’uomo diviso tra istinto e morale” (Terlizzi, 2012).

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Cosimo Terlizzi, L’uomo doppio, 2012, Italy, various locations. Images from the documentary, available on Cosimo Terlizzi’s official website. Slideshow. ©Cosimo Terlizzi, 2012.

In English, his words mean: I focused my attention on my love life and on my practice as an artist; I used myself as test subject to investigate the lights and the shadows of personality with the will to make emerge an investigation on human nature, divided between instinct and moral. To make a comparison, in my specific case I focused my attention on traumas, negative memories, the concept of dual, individuality and the dreamlike experience to represent my inner world and a shared condition that viewers can fully interpret and understand in accordance with their own personal experience and their personalities. The idea of “doppio” (dual) could be considered as a link between the two documentaries and, even if with different methodologies and intents, we share the interest in human condition and in the exploration of deeper emotional levels and the recesses of human mind.

 

References:

Agamben Giorgio, Che cos’è reale? La scomparsa di Majorana, 2016, Neri Pozza Ed., Vicenza, Italy. Pp. 18.

Agamben Giorgio, Creazione e Anarchia. L’opera nell’età della religione capitalista, 2017, Neri Pozza, Vicenza, Italy. Pp. 28.

Bertozzi Marco, Documentario come Arte, Riuso, performance, autobiografia nell’esperienza del cinema contemporaneo, 2018, Marsilio Ed., Venice, Italy. Pp. 7-9; 11-17; 25-26; 34; 37; 40-43; 48-49; 51-52; 65.

Bruzzi Stella, New Documentary: A critical introduction, 2000, Routledge, London, UK.

Caillet Anine, Dispositif critiques. Le Documentaire, du cinéma aux arts visuels, 2014, Presse Iniversitaire de Rennes, Rennes, France. Pp. 9;29.

Cantz Verlag Hatje, Documenta 11_Platform 5: Exhibition Catalogue, preface written by the Artistic Director Okwui Enwezor, 2002,  published by Hatje Cantz, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany.

Comolli Jean-Louis, Voir et pouvoir. L’innocence perdue: cinema, television, fiction, documentaire, 2004, Verdier, Paris, France. Pp. 3.

Dubois Philippe, Le cinema exposé. Essai de categorisation, in A. Bordina/V. Estremo/F. Federici Extended Temporalities. Transient Visions in the Museum and in Art,  2016, Mimesis International, Milan/Udine, Italy. Pp. 41-71.

Enwezor Okwui, Documenta 11, 2002, Kassel, Germany. Documenta official website, Retrospective area https://www.documenta.de/en/retrospective/documenta11#

Ferguson Russell/Brougher Kerry, Art and film since 1945 : hall of mirrors, (also titled: Hall of Mirrors), 1996, Museum of Contemporary Art/ Monacelli Press, Los Angeles/New York, USA. Pp. 23.

Hirst Damien, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, 2017, exhibition curated by Fondazione Pinault at Palazzo Grassi/Punta della Dogana, Venezia, Italy. Information available on Palazzo Grassi/Punta della Dogana official website https://www.palazzograssi.it/en/exhibitions/past/damien-hirst-at-palazzo-grassi-and-punta-della-dogana-in-2017-1/

Hirst Damien/Hobkinson Sam, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, 2018, official trailer presenting the documentary’s release on Netflix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFo1ynWEiEY

Marconi Dayana, [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], April/May 2018, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/269339225

McKenna Kristine, Projections and Reflections : MOCA’s ‘Hall of Mirrors’ looks at art’s impact on film, cinema’s influence on artists and the unpredictable results when the two worlds collide, on Los Angeles Times, March 17th 1996 issue. http://articles.latimes.com/1996-03-17/entertainment/ca-47845_1_film-stills

Montani Pietro, Tre forme di creatività: tecnica, arte, politica, 2017, Cronopio Ed., Napoli, Italy.

Nepoti Roberto, Storia del Documentario, 1988, Patron Ed., Bologna, Italy. Pp. 144.

Raczynski Anna, The moving Image: Expanded Documentary Practice in Contemporary Art, in Sztuka i Dokumentacja, 2013, issue 9. Pp. 125. Full PDF English essay available on Sztuka i Dokumentacja at the following link http://www.journal.doc.art.pl/pdf9/anna_raczynski_mowing_image.pdf

Terlizzi Cosimo, L’uomo doppio, (Engl. Trans: The dual man), 2012, information and images related to the documentary available on Cosimo Terlizzi’s official website http://www.cosimoterlizzi.com/luomo-doppio/

“[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”: a deeper analysis and a first recognition

FINAL PROJECT – SHORT DOCUMENTARY

As stated into my project’s website and previously introduced into my previous articles related to this piece of work, “‘[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]’ or “Imāgō” is a Latin world with multiple meanings, like image, imitation, representation, ghost, echo, thought, dream, ancestral image and depiction. This short documentary has an important role in my project “I can hear you now”: it is a starting point and a conclusion at the same time, its aim is  to “close a circle”. With an experimental approach, I wanted to generate a dreamlike journey into my mind and my soul, depicting how I perceive, or misperceive, myself, how I see my past and the world. It is a symbolic representation of the process of reliving a trauma, my childhood, my memories, but, at the same time, I tried to symbolically show the sense of liberation from a burden to leave space to a better and unknown future. Suffering is a shared condition and this is represented by a sort of doppelgänger, another woman symbolically sharing some of my experiences, even if in a slightly different way. The visual narration accompanies the interviews released by the Film Composer Elena Maro and the Phychologist and Neuropsychologist Dr Martina Gerbi.” (Marconi, 2018).

Dayana S. Marconi, “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, April/May 2018. ©Dayana Marconi 2018. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

Even if I agree with the great Film Director David Lynch when he says “As soon as you put things in words, no one ever sees the film the same way, and that’s what I hate, you know. Talking—it’s real dangerous.” (Lynch in Lim, 2015), because viewers, thanks to their innate sense of intuition, understand far more than what they are aware of; I realised that presenting my work into an Academic environment I must explain more in details the visual and conceptual decisions made during the creative process.

IMAGO-LOCANDINA-UFFICIALE_and-Laurel_IMdB

Dayana S. Marconi, “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, official Poster. ©Dayana Marconi 2018. Copyright for this poster belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

The title itself, “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, wants to be a clear statement of what viewers will face while watching the short documentary: it is not a simple presentation of my project; its aim is to represent, in an experimental and symbolic way, my inner world and a shared situation. It is a combination of different elements: narration, interviews and visual experiments. Each element is connected and follows a precise order.

It starts with a framing of a music box: since the very beginning we can observe a sort of loop, a repetition generated by a taxi cab rotating around the Empire State Building and reinforced by the music score created by the Award Winning Music Composer Elena Maro. What matters here is not the object, but the action itself: Mental Health Disorders, negative emotions, painful memories are something that never disappear completely in someone’s life, their remnants define who we are and often, when we think we “beated our monsters” they can suddenly reappear, since our personalities are forged by our life-experiences. It becomes a sort of never-ending journey. In my specific case, due to Anxiety Disorder, I go through this situation with panic attacks and traumatic recollections: a smell, a word, a sound, even the tiniest thing can cause me a strong inner reaction, often manifested as an “episode”. Like any other individual, I face and fight my problems, but life constantly put us to the test and when we overcome an issue we most likely have to face something else and the loop starts over and over again and this is the reason why the music box works as connection to between the different sections of the short. Of course, I cannot say that this situation affects only those individuals suffering from Mental Health Disorders, it is something that, at different levels, we all experiment: this is why it also works as a vehicle to connect my “doppelgänger” and me. Maybe I could have used a more clear element to present this situation, but in the creation of this documentary I wanted to avoid being too authoritative: I wanted viewers to face its contents on an emotional level and be free to interpret each element of my work according to their personal experience and personality.

Narration and visual narration: images and interviews are spaced out by my personal narrative, intended to explain what is “I can hear you now”, what are its aims and its subject matter. These sections are more descriptive and want to support the audience in facing my whole body of work. During the first part of my speech, we can observe an actual panic attack occurring in front of the camera: at the beginning my intention was to find a way to represent how I feel in those moments but, unfortunately, these episodes are not something I can control or avoid so, with the videomaker Alessio Mattia, we decided to film that situation and introduce “the actual” into the “representation”.

The act of screaming: this is a focal point of my research by images, so I decided to insert a brief sequence in which I was repeatedly screaming in front of a mirror; this because with my project I want to reflect my inner malaise but, at the same time, I want my images to mirror the audience and invite individuals to empathise with “the other” and face, at the same time, a need that probably, at least once in their lives, experienced by themselves. I decided to cover the sound of those screams with the score because my intention was not to be overdramatic, but simply to depict an action so representative in my practice.

Face-manipulation: this element is maybe the most “literal” one. It has been placed, during the editing phase, while the voiceover was explaining that “I must remain publicly impassive” (Marconi, 2018), this is why I decided to force my face in a smile but, at the same time, this is when my “doppelgänger” makes her first appearance to demonstrate that even when I put a smile on my face, there is often  a lot more behind it.

The mentioned “doppelgänger” has a double function: the first one is to represent what I hide inside me, the second one is to represent other individuals living similar situations, even if slightly different or for other reasons. This is why it appears, at first, as part of me and we “split” during the short to subsequently blend again. This is another way to symbolically represent the loop, but in this case its meaning is different: the whole project starts from a personal perspective (my unexpressed inner malaise due to social norms) and ends with me (with the creation of the series “Twelve episodes” in which I portray myself after twelve different panic attacks).

First interview: this has been released by the Psychologist and Neuropsychologist Dr Martina Gerbi. “Dr Gerbi spent some words to explain the relationship between Psychology and Photography, the origins of Art-therapy and the potential of my project and its relation with Mental Health support and investigation.” (Marconi, 2018). Since she provided a psychological interpretation of the benefits that could be generated by “I can hear you now”, I accompanied her speech with images of one of my last shootings, to make viewers understand what is the emotional path my sitters undertake in front of my camera. This last section, then, is further explained by my voiceover.

Flashing-lights and voices’ scene: this is the first one of the “visual experiments” taking place during the short and this is when my “doppelgänger” and I split. The voices are extracted by the video “I can hear you now: four ‘characters’ empathising with the Author”, in which four individuals, forced to stay together into the same theatre-proscenium are unable to communicate among them speaking four different Languages but, at the same time, with their monologue they all communicate with me since they all speak about my personal story. The flashes wants to represents those mentioned traumatic memories that suddenly comes and go, while the voices explain portions of them. Sometimes those memories are so strong that still today I must force myself to keep distance to what I feel, often looking detached or absent. The woman appearing, physically opposite to me, perfectly represent that situation: when I suffer, I often become sarcastic or “over-humorous” because I feel the urge to hide what I feel to others and, in most cases, I want to hide the same to myself. She is my antipodal: while I become more and more absent, looking at those flashes and listening to those voices she appears, becoming stronger and stronger, while she vanishes as soon as I slowly try to take the control of the situation again. Our figures are both blurred, out of focus, to represent that sense of detachment.

This part is the one I define my “Club Silencio scene”, In this David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” scene, a magician states “No hay banda! There is no band. Il n’est pas de orquestra! This is all a tape-recording. No hay banda! And yet, we hear a band. If we want to hear a clarinette, listen. … It’s all a tape. It is an illusion.” (Lynch, 2001), and yet, even if sounds and music are pure illusion, the emotions generated into the audience (into the theatre but also in who is watching the movie) are very strong. The two protagonists, two different women like in my case, experience the same strong feelings while listening to the voice of the singer and observe her dramatic performance, even if that is just a recording (like in my case, again). Like Jeff Saporito wrote in his “In ‘Mulholland Drive’ what happened at Club Silencio?”, “Diane’s brain is in shambles, eager to believe that the truths of her existence are not what they are, replacing bits and pieces with a more comfortable narrative. The club reveals to her that self-delusion only works for a while; illusion is temporary, and when the magic ends, the show is over. Such is the case for Diane, as Club Silencio brings her back to a reality she can’t cope with.” (Saporito, 2015).

David Lynch, Mulholland Drive, Club Silencio scene, 2001, Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France. ©David Lynch, 2001.

We filmed the scene on the stage of a deconsecrated church transformed into “Diavolo Rosso” Culture and Art Organisation (and club) and, inspired by the location and by the “Club Silencio” scene, I decided to use red and blue as main colours and those fragments of recorded voices in different Languages.

Second interview: this second contribution has been released by the Music Composer Elena Maro, who “explained how she collaborated with me and her multiple roles during the whole creation of my project, also showing how my images, a visual representation of the pain of others, can be “translated” in sounds.” (Marconi, 2018). Her interview is introduced by a brief sequence extracted from Logic Pro, the program she uses to compose: this to actually show how my images has been transformed in sounds. At the end of her speech, she also provided examples of how she created the score for my project by playing her piano. Since she is located in Los Angeles, we decided she had to film her own interview and be remotely directed by me: I provided her with visual examples of how I wanted her to be framed and I explained what I exactly needed and the scenes has been then completely edited by Alessio Mattia under my supervision.

Doppelgänger takeover: since with this sections I wanted to show that is possible to force viewers to deal with what they observe and generate empathy, I decided to dedicate one entire scene to the woman representing “the other”, viewers and my hidden-self at the same time. In this case, she was the protagonist of the scene, conceptually connected with me by the music box. As stated several times, suffering is a shared condition, but we all suffer in different ways: this is why this scene has been edited in a very different way compared to the previous ones, to enhance the idea of individuality and self-definition. During the shooting and the editing phased, I directed and supervised the scene to recall the photographic body of work created by Francesca Woodman. The black and white is delicate and the scene is intimate but it represents a sense of solitude at the same time.

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Francesca  Woodman, Space2, Selection of images, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 . ©Betty and George Woodman.

Glitch-scene: this section has been inspired by Michael Betancourt’s “Dancing Glitch”, in which the author employed “a variation on the idea of “feedback” where the output of one stage becomes material to be glitched, manipulated and then mixed back into the original raw material” (Betancourt on Otherzine, 2013). I find this video fascinating because it defies and involves, at the same time, emotionally, conceptually and intellectually the audience, asking them to re-evaluate their idea of error. This section is when I am reunited with “the other me”: while trying to relive my lost childhood through a childlike game which became an impossible task due to the medical consequences of my past physical disability, she is still able to recreate that condition, establishing a definitive separation of the “two parts”. It starts with a severe “glitch” accompanied by a loud white noise and images become more and more clear as soon as viewers are asked to look better, to listen and to remember: this to enhance an emotional connection between the observer and the observed. Movements are in slow-motion also presenting some gaps and only at some point their rhythm becomes almost normal. Multiple-exposure wants to create a surreal sensation and music and sounds want to recreate the idea of happy memories and sadness at the same time, this is why babies’ laughs are mixed with a nostalgic music. At the end of this section my “split personality” disappears and I remain alone, confused and exhausted by the physical effort, going closer and closer to the camera, until I am so close that I make everything else disappear.

After the documentary was completed and released online, re-observing this scene I had a strange feeling: it became more and more familiar, like it remembered me of something I could not catch. After a couple of weeks I had a sudden intuition and searching online everything became clear: the influence that David Lynch had on me both on a personal and on an artistic level was so big that I recreated some elements of Twin Peaks Series 1 “picnic scene”.

David Lynch, Twin Peaks, Series 1, Episode 1, Traces to Nowhere, Picnic scene, 1990, USA. ©David Lynch/Mark Frost, 1990.

Of course, this was not made by purpose and yet some coincidences were so evident that I could not deny them. The two scenes are obviously completely different in their quality, contents, editing and meanings, but still the affinity remains, somehow, clear in my opinion.

Self-observation: in this brief section of the video I decided to transform the re-photography technique, analysed during Module 4 with Professor Gary McLeod, into a process of re-observation, this to demonstrate, once more, that the main aim of my project is to push viewers to analyse themselves while observing my still and moving images. Since the very beginning of my practice I opted for an inclusive approach, avoiding to act as a voyeur “regarding the pain of others” (Sontag, 2003). I must admit that at the beginning while watching myself on a screen I was simply curious, but then I started “feeling” what those images meant to me and it has become a bit painful.

Twelve episodes: in this part I presented this photographic series from “I can hear you now” explaining its aims and how I created it. I did not show the final images that have been included into the project’s website at the end of the Itinerary, but the first attempts. Like for the process of selection of the images to be included into a portfolio, I moved those prints on a white table to find the best combination possible. I filmed this section myself with the video camera mounted on a tripod.

Final Scene: since, as previously written, this short was intended as a dreamlike journey into my head and soul, into this final section I was looking completely different, like I became my double itself. Everything previously showed was not real but it was at the same time: it was the inside Vs the outside, the past Vs the present, the Imāgō Vs the actual and yet boundaries do not want to be so defined, because everything that has been represented was an echo and the reality at the same time. Recalling my “Emotional Score experiment #2” video, I had to free myself from a burden and so I started cutting my hair until I had the chance to feel relieved and rest. At the same time, this can be seen as a “cut” from my past-self or a moment of self-abandonment. I wanted to leave the interpretation to viewers since I wanted them to experience this scene, like the whole documentary, at an emotional level, using their own experiences and personalities. Someone will see this as an “happy ending”, someone else will give a more gloomy interpretation to this moment. Somehow, I wanted to represent a sense of relief with my figure vanishing into white and black trees-branches and again this relief can be seen as the moment in which I symbolically passed away due to those traumatic memories also recalled by those recalled child laughs.

And then the music box starts again…

 

LAUREL-PER-INSTAGRAM

The $2 Film Festival 2018, laurel for the official selection of “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]” for the category “Short Documentary”.

“[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]” has been officially selected by “The $2 Film Festival 2018” for the category “Short Documentary”.

 

References:

Betancourt Michael, Dancing Glithc, 2013, USA, video released on Batancourt’s official Vimeo account “Cinegraphic” https://vimeo.com/cinegraphic

Betancourt Michael, The Process of Eupraxis in Making Dancing Glitch, on Otherzine, issue #32, Spring 2013 http://www.othercinema.com/otherzine/the-process-of-eupraxis-in-making-dancing-glitch-2013/

Diavolo Rosso, non-profit Culture and Art Organisation, Asti, Italy, official website http://www.diavolorosso.it/

Lim Dennis, David Lynch’s Elusive Language, on The New Yorker, October 2015 issue https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/david-lynchs-elusive-language

Lynch David, Mulholland Drive, 2001, produced by Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France.

Lynch David, Mulholland Drive, Club Silencio scene, 2001, produced by Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France. Video released on YouTube in 2015 for educational purposes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRpmNgaJ41U

Lynch David/Frost Mark, Traces to Nowhere, Season 1, Episode 1, Picnic Scene, 1990, Lynch/Frost Productions, USA. Video released on YouTube in 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAJti6oAvNM

Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now – four ‘characters’ empathising with the Author, April 2017, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/213764162

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now – Emotional Score Experiment #2, December 2017, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/245894272

Marconi Dayana, [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], April/May 2018, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/269339225

Maro Elena, Award winning composer for film, television and media, official website https://www.elenamaro.com/

Saporito Jeff, In ‘Mulholland Drive’ what happened at Club Silencio?, article released on Screenprism, October 2015 issue http://screenprism.com/insights/article/in-mulholland-drive-what-happened-at-club-silencio

Sontag Susan, Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, USA.

The $2 Film Festival, NY, USA, official website https://www.2dff.com/

Woodman Francesca,  Space², 1975-1978, Providence, Rhode Island  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/woodman-space-providence-rhode-island-1975-1978-ar00350

Publications: “I can hear you now” project on “Contemporary Art Curator Magazine”

FINAL PROJECT – PROJECT PUBLICATIONS

On May 29th I received an e-mail from the Editorial Assistant of “Contemporary Art Curator Magazine” who had the chance to see my work invited me to submit my project for a publication that will be created and curated by the Magazine itself starting from November 2018. I followed the whole submission procedure and my project has been selected among the 100 artists that will be featured into the book.

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“Dayana Sharon Marconi”, Contemporary Art Curator Magazine, July 3rd 2018 online issue, screenshot. Copyright for the photographs and videos contained by the article belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

The successful submission also allowed me to be featured on their Magazine and they published, on July 3rd 2018, the article “Dayana Sharon Marconi”. I have been asked to present my project “I can hear you now” and I took advantage of this great opportunity to publish not only some of the images related to my last three exhibitions, but also my new production, including the short documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”.

I wanted the article to result complete but not too long, trying to find the right balance between information released and their format, in order to give readers the chance to know “I can hear you now” multifaceted structure, subject matter and origins but, at the same time, avoiding to share too much since, at the end of the dedicated page, I had the chance to share all links related to my body of work, including social media platforms. Like in the case of the article “Introducing: Dayana Marconi”, published on May 5th 2018, by The Falmouth Anchor, I had to adapt contents to their standards, adjusting images and texts in accordance with their requirements.

I must admit that even my aim was to be published, like any other photographers, I was not expecting to be featured by such a Magazine and I think this is an amazing opportunity to launch my project into the public domain, as required by this Final Module.

“Contemporary Art Curator Magazine” will also feature my work on their Instagram and Facebook pages that count thousands of followers and my hope is that this great chance will promote my current practice event outside the Academic environment.

The article is available at the following link: http://www.contemporaryartcuratormagazine.com/home-2/dayana-sharon-marconi

To promote this publication and invite everyone who might have been interested in reading it, I shared it on my social media and into the “News” section of my personal and project’s websites.

 

References:

Contemporary Art Curator Magazine, official website http://www.contemporaryartcuratormagazine.com/

Contemporary Art Curator Magazine, Dayana Sharon Marconi, July 3rd 2018 online issue http://www.contemporaryartcuratormagazine.com/home-2/dayana-sharon-marconi

Marconi Dayana S., official website http://www.dayanamarconiimage.com/

Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now project’s website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

Marconi Dayana S., “I can hear you now” featured by Contemporary Art Curator Magazine, July 5th 2018 issue, on I can hear you now project’s website, News section http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/2018/07/05/i-can-hear-you-now-featured-on-contemporary-art-curator-magazine/

The Falmouth Anchor, official website http://www.falmouth-anchor.co.uk/

The Falmouth Anchor, Introducing: Dayana Marconi, May 5th 2018 online issue http://www.falmouth-anchor.co.uk/2018/05/04/introducing-dayana-marconi/

David Lynch: catching the Big Fish

FINAL PROJECT – ARTISTIC REFERENCES

“I carry a log — yes. Is it funny to you? It is not to me. Behind all things are reasons. Reasons can even explain the absurd. Do we have the time to learn the reasons behind the human being’s varied behavior? I think not. Some take the time. Are they called detectives? Watch — and see what life teaches.”

The Log Lady Introduction. Twin Peaks, season 1, episode 1, “Traces to Nowhere”.  Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch. Directed by Duwayne Dunham. Introduction written, filmed and directed by David Lynch and aired on June 18, 1993 for the re-airing of the series on the Bravo Network and included into the 2007 Gold Box Edition release.

 

This few words have been pronounced by one of “Twin Peaks” most mysterious and representative characters: The Log Lady. David Lynch decided to create a series of short monologues in which the Log Lady, sitting in her cabin while holding her log, speaks directly to the camera, touching and somehow introducing, elements contained by the plot of the related episodes: in this specific case, episode 1 “Traces of Nowhere”. Since the first time I had the chance to listen to those words, I immediately empathised with the character and the burden she had to handle being constantly misinterpreted and misunderstood by other people and today, after twenty-five years, I believe that her words can provide a very clear explanation of the subject matter behind my project. We all carry a burden, and we all have difficulties in identifying the reasons behind human behaviours: this situation can generate even painful misunderstandings for those people who might have difficulties in explaining what is behind their own behaviours. Into my project I tried to guide viewers in taking that time to understand “the other” and empathise with him: I tried to use “what life teaches” (Lynch, 1993) to allow them to use their personal experience to interpret “the Pain of others” (Sontag, 2003). Of course, like Sontag wrote in her “Regarding the Pain of others”, “No “we” should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people’s pain.” (Sontag, 2003) and this statement can be perfectly applied to the situation described, in a more cryptic way, by The Log Lady. Into her introduction, in Sontag’s words, in my practice, we can find a common element: understanding and empathy require time and effort in order to avoid being simply voyeurs into other people’s lives.

In his “Catching the Big Fish”, David Lynch stated “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract and they’re very beautiful. I look for a certain kind of fish that is important to me, one that can translate to cinema. But there are all kind of fish swimming down there. There are fish for business, fish for sports. There are fish for everything. Everything, anything that is a thing, comes up from the deepest level. Modern physics calls that level the Unified Field. The more your consciousness – your awareness – is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger fish you can catch.” (Lynch, 2007).

I personally own the Italian edition of this amazing book, titled “Acque profonde” (Deep waters) and even if it is something between a “spiritual essay” and a meditation manual, it made me better understand (at least a bit) how “the person” David Lynch thinks and how he makes Art. He is not only a film director: he is a photographer, a writer, a musician and a painter, too. His mind is completely open to Art and to what he calls the “expanded consciousness”. As soon as I read his introduction to the book, I realized how my project is the smallest of my big fishes but, at the same time, that with my work I started swimming in those deeper waters and I started catching bigger ones. He inspired me because he made me realize what I would like to do with my creations in the future: exploring the deepest meanders of my self-consciousness and of my inner self and transform them in something visible, something that does not require an explanation to be appreciated, or something that, as Lynch’s body of work, can be appreciated or not, but that objectively demonstrates its value as piece of art. This is a very difficult path to follow and I must admit I have high-standard sources of inspiration, while I still consider myself a beginner as “fisherman”, but it is also true that with “I can hear you now” I started exploring myself more and open myself to the world and if there is something that Lynch’s words made me understand it is that this is a good starting point.

As he explained into the mentioned publication, he loves Cinema’s Language because it allows artists to convey many messages that might be important or abstracts, but thanks to time, sequences, script, words, music and sounds an emotion or a thought, that otherwise could not be communicated, can be expressed. This is basically the idea that made me decide to combine stills with moving images: somehow, I was feeling that the stillness of the photographic image was not enough to truly convey my message or to simply create a stronger contexts around the subject matter I was analyzing. I realize that, sometimes, my videos are not “immediate”, but as Lynch perfectly explained, even when people declare not to understand a movie (or any other artwork) in reality they comprehend much more than what they are aware of. The Director says it is about intuition, something intrinsic in human nature and often externalizing those intuitions allow people to grasp a concept and this is why he always refused to provide clear explanations related to his works. As a matter of fact, Dennis Lim from The New Yorker, in his article “David Lynch’s elusive Language” quoted the Film Director who once said “As soon as you put things in words, no one ever sees the film the same way, and that’s what I hate, you know. Talking—it’s real dangerous.” (Lynch in Lim, 2015). This obsession with Language, however, was already noticeable, in a symbolic way, in his 1968 “The Alphabet”, in which a young girl is absolutely terrified by letters generated by “The Alphabet song” that she cannot catch and that, at the end of the short, left her trapped in her own bed.

David Lynch, The Alphabet, 1968, USA. Written and directed by David Lynch, produced by H. Barton Wasserman. ©David Lynch/Lynchnet, 1968.

Talking about ideas, Lynch wrote that they are thoughts and as soon as we formulate it “there is a sparkle” (Lynch, 2007) and, falling in love with that idea, the rest will simply follow. This was exactly what happened in the creation of “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”: I started imagining one of the scenes and then, like a “stream of consciousness” everything started arising in my mind. I must admit I have been influenced by the work done by David Lynch in its creation: not only in the visual solution that, sometimes, might (humbly) recall his Language, but also in the way in which he captures his ideas from his deep self-awareness, deep down in the water of his soul where those big fish swim. Having the chance to observe and analyse his work since I was a child and observing how my interpretation of what I was observing changed while I was growing up and “experience life”, Lynch made me understand that there is no need to fully understand each single element of a movie or a project, what matters is “feeling” it: understanding it through our life-experience and our personality or background.

A brilliant example of this juxtaposition of known/unknown (or domestic Vs surreal), among his less known works, is the series of short horror comedy films, released online only as precise decision of the Director himself, titled “Rabbits”. The protagonists are three humanoid rabbits in a single box set that recreates the living room of a house. Conversations are often intelligible or surreal and often interrupted by laughs that nothing have to do with the context in which the characters are insert, often absurd due to a lack of continuity in the meaning of dialogues. It is not a surprise that one of the rabbits asks herself “I wonder who I will be”, mirroring viewers and the existential question they asked themselves at least once in their lives.

David Lynch, Rabbits, 2002, USA. ©David Lynch, Indipendent production.

Like he stated, “every project is an experiment” (Lynch, 2007) and it has to start at a deep level and touch the artist’s true-self to arise: a similar path, I think, is necessary to “catch” an idea.

 

References:

Lim Dennis, David Lynch’s Elusive Language, on The New Yorker, October 2015 issue https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/david-lynchs-elusive-language

Lynch David, Catching the Big Fish, meditation, consciousness and creativity, 2006, Bobkind Inc., Los Angeles, California, USA. Introduction quote from 10th Anniversary Ed., Penguin Random House LLC, 2016, New York, USA. Copyright, 2006/20016, Bobkind Inc., Pp. 1; 29.

Lynch David, Lynchnet, the David Lynch Resource, http://www.lynchnet.com/

Lynch David, Rabbits, 2002, Directed, filmed and produced by David Lynch, USA. Video released on YouTube in 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxKPBLjHAEA

Lynch David, The Alphabet, 1968, USA. Written and directed by David Lynch, produced by H. Barton Wasserman. Video released on Youtube in 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ_t1eOAipo

Lynch David, Women and Machines, 2014, Lucca Film Festival, Lucca, Italy.

Sontag Susan, Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, USA. Pp. 8.

Exhibition 3: “I can hear you now” project at “I am here – here I am”

FINAL PROJECT – THIRD EXHIBITION

“I AM HERE – HERE I AM” ART EVENT AT THE STUDIO, MARKS TEY, ESSEX, UK.

Opening | Event duration – Saturday, July 7th 2018, 5pm‐ 1am.

The Studio – Wishingwell Farm, London Road, Marks Tey, Essex, CO6 1EZ.

 

Created in collaboration with my peer Maryann Morris, “I am here – Here I am”, it will be a celebratory exhibition of transformative works from emerging artists, tackling issues of identity, culture and perception: it will be a dynamic, engaging and participatory event. Rather than organising a classic white box Gallery exhibition, we decided to create a show orchestrated to further represent not only the subject matters of our works, but also our vision.

Alongside the exhibition of our two projects, the show will include a separate area to present the work of the filmmaker Will Wright and it will also involve music projects by other two artists: Ed Sykes and Nathan Wacey, since we decided to create an art-collective that will allow us to engage a continuing collaboration in time.

We decided to “think out of the box”, in this case the classic white box Galleries exhibitions, this is why we opted for a celebration for our art and creativity and the event will include various DJ’s playing throughout the evening.

I AM HERE - HERE I AM_INVITATION

I am here – Here I am, official invitation. Graphic design by Maryann Morris. ©I am here – Here I am, 2018.

I decided to collaborate with Maryann because, as previously stated into my article “Voices of stripped souls”,we both deal with the hidden and with Photography as a tool to investigate human inner world from different starting points and approaching our subject matter from different angles but, in the end, we both narrate private stories, we both portray those naked souls, we both make the audience hear their voices.” (Marconi, 2018), this is why our works perfectly complement each other.

At the beginning, we wanted to create an even including our two projects only, but then we realised that creating an art-collective would not only make dealing with expenses easier, but it will allow us to create an art-network, supporting each other and expanding our possibilities to spread our artistic message and vision even in the future. Each one of us has a different artistic background and area of expertise and being located in two different Countries will permit us to cover a wider geographic area for future events.

This is why we completely revised our previous ideas and set up to adapt it to the new situation. We needed a title that could represent that concept of affirming us in the world of Art and, at the same time, the event’s title had to represent the subject matter of our different projects. “I am here – here I am” was the perfect solution, since it also represents the idea of “a mirror” in which viewers can see themselves while observing “the other”. “I am here”, represents the idea of our sitters, and ourselves, who need to be seen, heard and listened for who they really are; “Here I am” is a statement that wants to make the audience understand our artistic identity and that our intention is to affirm ourselves into the world of Art.

Since we had no chance to meet each other in person to organise the event, we created a private Facebook group to discuss ideas related to the organisation of the whole event and Maryann provided the location. She sent me images of the space in order to allow me to plan the best set up solution for my images and videos.

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The Studio, snapshots of the location provided by Maryann Morris. Slideshow. ©Maryann Morris, 2018.

I had the chance to discuss with Maryann directly via WhatsApp, phone and social media and we agreed that, being our degree art show, we needed a specific area dedicated to our two projects, maintaining the original idea of the joint exhibition. Having the chance to use a recording studio, connected but separated at the same time from the area in which the “party” will be organised, we will have the possibility to increase the quality of our work involving video and audio materials. The space is organised in two separated and sound-proof rooms and a corridor. Into one room I will project in loop my short documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, my “Video self-portrait” and my “I can hear you now: Emotional response” videos and a large and comfortable sofa will allow the audience to sit and watch the section of my project involving moving images. Into the corridor, that connects the two rooms, I will re-use the 20x30inches images printed for “Art in Mind” exhibition that Maryann collected from The Brick Lane Gallery Annexe in Shoreditch, London, at the end of the group exhibition. I decided to re-use them to avoid further expenses and because they fit the available space. I will use Velcro again to hang my photographs: in this way we will also save time avoiding to hammer nails into the walls, something that will then require a restoring of the walls themselves. Into the second room, Maryann will display her “Perceptions and Reality” images and the audio equipment will allow her to employ voiceover to narrate her sitters’ stories.

We decided to arrange this celebratory event by invitation only: we created a private event on Facebook in order to invite those contacts in the area who could be interested in our works, we sent invitations via e-mail to curators, galleries’ owners and other professionals in the art-field, we invited our peers, Professors and Tutors.

We are now discussing the last details related to the set up of the event, like printing posters containing a brief Bio and Artist’s Statement in order to make people understand what they are going to experience. We are considering to use the same layout created for the official invitation in order to create a sort of coordinated image for the whole event: in this way, our project will maintain their own identity but, at the same time, they will be connected to the whole event and to the concept expressed by its title. I will also bring the business cards printed exclusively for my project: in this way, the audience will have the chance to visit my website and follow the Itinerary I created as online gallery.

Taking in consideration the available space, and avoiding being “too invasive” with my work since a balance must be maintained in the way we combine our different projects, I am currently discussing with Maryann if there will be the possibility to present, somehow, my “Twelve images” series as well and we are considering a way to combine, once more, our works in this case, too, maybe enhancing the power and the importance of words in our projects.

In my specific case, the expenses related to this exhibition will be related to:

  • Travelling (Rome/London/Rome);
  • Refreshments for the event (divided among all artists of the collective);
  • Refund of the expenses that Maryann faced for the collection of my prints at The Brick Lane Gallery Annexe;
  • Courier from UK to Italy to post my prints at the end of the exhibition.

In relation to the documentation of the event, we can collaborate in the creation of the documentation of the event, but we autonomously photograph and film our own projects for our FMP documentation.

 

References:

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now project, official website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now, Video self-portrait, March 2017, uploaded on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/208347694

Marconi Dayana, [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], June 2018, uploaded on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/269339225

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now: Emotional response, December 2017, uploaded on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/241800018

Marconi Dayana, Voices of stripped souls, article written for Dayana Marconi CRJ, March 2018 issue https://daybydaydayana.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/voices-of-stripped-souls/

Morris Maryann, Perception Vs Reality, images with voiceover https://maryannmorris.wordpress.com/surfaces-and-strategies/portfolio-2/

Morris Maryann, Perception Vs Reality, photographic portfolio https://maryannmorris.wordpress.com/

Connecting my project and Cinema once more

FINAL PROJECT – CREATIVE REFERENCES

“I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions but when all these are removed and you can look forward, and the road is clear ahead, and now you’re going to create something. I think that’s as happy as I would ever want to be.”

– Alfred Hitchcock, 1964 –

 

Since the very beginning of my project, I found this Hitchcock’s quote very inspirational for many reasons: it doesn’t only explain my whole work in a few lines, but it perfectly portrays human condition. This is a brilliant example of the ability of great Film Directors to depict reality: artists like Hitchcock, Lynch, Von Trier, Jarmush, Chaplin and Kubrick have been able to translate in images, sounds, words and dialogues the Society we live in, individuality and the recesses of our minds and souls.

When we watch a movie, we interpret and internalise it according to our personal experience; the same can be said about photography. We read images and situations with our own eyes and it is quite improbable that we can observe them in a completely impartial way: this is something I wanted to use in my practice, I wanted viewers to provide a personal interpretation of what they see.

Observe, interpret, internalise, empathise.

Cinema had a deep influence on my practice: proceeding with the creation of new work for my project, I tried to experiment as much as I could photographically speaking, but also making a more extensive use of the moving image.

Even if I never switched from one subject matter to another, being faithful to the original proposal created at the beginning of this MA Photography at Falmouth in 2016, my imagery evolved in time and the project has been completely transformed in the way I photographed and depicted the same act and topic.

At the beginning of my work, I wanted to depict the emotional path I was portraying by using black and white triptychs only, while after I introduced “Sequences”, “Confrontation sheets” and video-materials until, using the skills I am acquiring during the Screenwriting Course I am attending at ShoreScripts LA, Lead by Richard Walter, Graduate Professor at UCLA’s Screenwriting program, I decided to create a 16-minute documentary to present my current practice, that I also submitted to various Film Festivals around the world as an independent “piece of art”.

In the creation of my stills I decided to have a less strong control on editing decision-making: once I set up the camera and defined lights and framing, I let my sitters free to express their discomfort, free to use not only their face, but their bodies too. Apart from minimum modifications in light-temperature and contrast in some cases, I decided to avoid a strong post-production of the images since I wanted viewers to experience them for what they really are: a natural process of self-expression and self-definition. While at the beginning in those triptychs I used to portray three steps only (before, during and after the act of screaming), with my new imagery I captured, as stated several times, a sequence of decisive moments to narrate the pain my subjects were releasing in a more comprehensive way. They are stories in stills: like movies, they have a beginning, a climax and an end. Here I abandoned those influences related to Mute and Noir Cinema that became natural to me in the creation of black and white images, but even in these cases the audience can observe a silent scream, a sequence frozen in time that, possibly, will make them wonder what are the stories behind them and the mysteries of those individuals’ minds.

Even if I my photographic practice is now more distant from silent movies and noir Cinema in its style, directors like Buster Keaton still have a strong impact on my work. The great contrasts in the creation of his movies generated by the juxtaposition of his typical sad facial expression Vs the represented ridiculous situations, defy the cliché of Comedy and of the performance of emotions.

Charlie Chaplin, on the other hand, followed an opposite direction: thanks to his inclusive approach and full control of the creative process, something that I tend to in the creation of my whole body of work,  he created controversial films, 1040s “The Great Dictator” among others, in which he used comedy to represent historical and social problems related to his era. He was a man of contrasts and he often included autobiographical elements in his plots, something that we can consider the starting point of my research.

At the same time, while my photographic images are now characterised by natural lights and soft-colours, my video-materials can be seen as more obscure: this is a quite peculiar situation if we consider that they are the contents providing a stronger context to my practice, depicting situations that could be defined as more “immediate” since they take place and evolve right in front of the audience’s eyes.

Into my 2017 article article “Cinema as a creative reference”, I stated “The subject matter must be discovered by observation, analysing details and provided clues, investigating human souls and understanding that sometimes ‘cold cases’ still affect my sitters’ lives and this is why they are re-examined with them during the shooting phase. In my stills, images must speak by themselves using details, expressions and movement: of course, this is a very difficult goal to achieve and this is why I am continuing experimenting to improve as a practitioner.” (Marconi, 2017). People can observe the filmed action occurring in motion and the support of music and sounds reinforce the contents allowing viewers to get more involved. These videos narrate my story and the ones of my sitters and they create a stronger boundary with Cinema. We can appreciate a representation, in different forms, of the past, of the emotions of the “protagonists”, a narration, a peak, and an ending: these are all elements we can find in the basic rules for the creation of a plot, even if, in most of my cases, those stories remains “obscure”, as previously written.

In the creation of my videos, starting from sequences of stills in motion, emotionally reinforced in their narration by the music score, to the creation of my documentary, I decided to get my pulse on the situation in a stronger way. As I had the chance to explain while discussing my role in the creation of those videos, the greatest majority of decisions were mine. I wanted lights, photography, the dialogues I wrote, framing, visual distortions, plot, some elements of music, sounds and editing to be created according to my needs and my vision: this is what a Director must do, in the end. Then, of course, I left all other elements to the expertise of my collaborators who were absolutely free to use their great professional skills to work on my indications. In the case of the documentary, we created different versions until we finally translated in images, editing and sounds what was exactly in my head since the very beginning. Of course, anyone can see there are clear cultural and visual references in its contents: David Lynch and Michael Betancourt above others.

Chris Marker, La jeteé, Drama/Short Film. Duration: 28 minutes, 1962, Argos Films, France. Music Composer: Trevor Duncan. Narrators: Jean Négroni, James Kirk. © Chris Marker, 1962.

I started this adventure with the moving image by creating the mentioned connection between the moving and still images, creating a cross section of that reality behind those screams that are the distinctive visual element of my project. I asked Elena Maro, the Italian music composer based in Los Angeles I am collaborating with in the creation of all my video-materials, to re-create in music the depicted emotional process in order to demonstrate that feelings can become audible using film score technique, used to underline and reproduce them. What she has done in the creation of the score for my videos and my documentary, could be compared to the musical improvisation done by Neil Young for Jim Jarmush’s “Dead man” Soundtrack: she started from my images, she “felt” them on an emotional level and she translated my images in music.

They are moments frozen in time that become stories again thanks to the video-montage, the music that represents an emotional status and an introductive text. In their creation, I have been inspired by the powerful Chris Marker’s 1962 “La jeteé”. Of course, the represented topic is absolutely different and its emotional impact definitely stronger if we consider its subject matter, especially. He created a sci-fi documentary using a sequence of photographs only: something that I would like to further explore in the future.

Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now – Emotional Score Experiment #2, 1.05 minutes, 2017. Music Composer: Elena Maro. ©Dayana Marconi 2017, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi.

I created a series of Video-portraits, including myself among sitters, and other more conceptual videos, inspired by the art of David Lynch and Marina Abramović, but the most extensive body of work related to the use of moving images into my project, has been the creation of the 16-minute documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”.

As previously stated, I decided to extensively participate to all stages of its creation, like what I have previously done for “I can hear you now . Video self-portrait”, in which I was the protagonist and the filmmaker at the same time, and for “I can hear you now – emotional Reaction” in which I wasn’t only the Director and filmmaker, but also the cinematographer, defining the necessity to illuminate the protagonist with my photographic images and the sound-designer deciding to use only the sounds emitted by my video self-portrait, protagonist’s breath and some minimal environmental sounds.

As mentioned into the previous article “Cinema as creative reference”, Directors like Hitchcock and Chaplin actively participated at all levels in the creations of their movies: as scriptwriters, directors, cinematographers and actors and this distinctive approach to their work became a great source of inspiration in my creations. The role of a screenwriter is quite similar to the photographer’s one in the making of a project: they both have to find a subject matter they want to represent, and they must find the right “language” to do so. Directors, once more, have a similar role, too: they must define what the final result will be and use their expertise to make it happen.

I would not dare to compare my imagery to the great productions of the artists I am quoting in this article, but my point is that observing their production during my whole life, they had a great influence in defining who I am as a person and, hopefully, who I am becoming as an artist.

Writing about Hitchcock and Chaplin’s practice, I stated: “They were revolutionary at their times: one forcing viewers in observing the lives of others and pushing the boundaries of the emotional state of his audience, also generating uncomfortable feelings, while the other challenged them analysing controversial themes like historic and contemporary social problems. Like in their cases, my work has an experimental approach and only lately I approached to music and sounds.” (Marconi, 2017). Discussing my current practice, I often found this parallelism focusing my subject matter on Mental Health and social problems: analysing these artists’ works, as well as the ones created by many photographers, I realised how these issues remained “unsolved” through history. What happened is that the way in which some problems and situations are conceived remains basically the same in time, while only the historical environment changes. Of course, in reality like Cinema, we can observe differences according to distinct cultural backgrounds and geographical origins, but the heart of the matter does not change.

In some cases, I must admit that the influence of Cinema in my work occurred at a subconscious level. Let’s provide an example: in the cover and the poster for his “Nymphomaniac Volumes I and II – Forget about Love”, Von Trier used close-up portraits of some the protagonists performing the climax of an orgasm.

Nymphomaniac Volume II_Lars Von Trier

Lars Von Trier, Nymphomaniac Volumes I and II – Forget about Love, 2013, USA. Selection of portraits from the cover and flyer of the film. ©Lars Von Trier/Image Entertainment, Inc., 2013.

foto-urli

Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now – Selection of Confrontation sheets, Asti/Falmouth/Turin/Rome/Milan/Paris, EU. Snapshot. ©Dayana Marconi, 2017-2018. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

The topics of our two projects apparently have no connections and yet, on the back cover of the 2013 uncensored film-release, about the “Volume II” we can read: “Von Trier has crafted what may be his magnum opus. He goes further into his often  explored themes of suffering, femininity and the breaking of social norms.” (Image Entertainment Inc., 2013). This is a clear demonstration that even a movie which has been on my shelf for years and that I have never watched before can influence my way to create images. This is something I realised for the first time one week ago, observing a group of “Confrontation sheets” used for my table of activities during my solo exhibition. I was observing many individuals screaming at the same time and I started thinking “Where did I see something similar?”. It took me a few days to find that visual source of unconscious inspiration and, considering the words mentioned here above, we can see that these two images unexpectedly conceptually fit, somehow. Doing some research, I realised that his movies “Antichrist” (2009), “Melancholia” (2011) and “Nymphomaniac vol. I and vol. II” (2013) are known as the “Depression trilogy” so, again, something related to Mental Health. As we can read into the conclusive part of Andrada Munteanu’s  essay “The aesthetics of depression in the work of Lars Von Trier”, “Cinematic depression emphasizes the characters’ inability to function as expected in today’s society. Their medicated “normality” collapses under the abnormal emotional pressure to which they are subjected. The depressed bear their burden of otherness, wavering between addiction and madness. The conflict between alterity and social mentalities is also at the core of Lars von Trier’s representations of depression.” (Munteanu, 2016).

Going back to the body of work created by Alfred Hitchcock, in his 1956 “The wrong man”, the story of a man wrongfully accused of a crime, we can observe not only the protagonist developing a sort of doomed illness, but his state is also reflected on his wife, who develops a severe depression culminating in a catatonic state as soon as she loses her hope in the future of her family. As Munteanu stated, “she convinces herself that her husband’s bad luck is her own fault. Her guilt obsession gives way to paranoid thoughts about the world as the enemy. Her anxieties reach critical level and throw her into a delirious state of mind during which she hits her husband with a hairbrush. A close-up of the husband’s face cuts to a shot of its reflection in a broken mirror and back to Rose’s perplexed face. This symbol makes the viewer aware of her distorted point of view on reality.” (Munteanu, 2016). Hitchcock was one of the first Directors depicting psychological processes in his films and he once remarked, discussing “Alfred Hitchcock presents” that “television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it” (Hitchcock, 1960). Another similarity between the Director’s approach and mine can be found in the technique of working with actors (common people in my case): in his 1963 interview with Peter Bogdanovic, he declared “I don’t direct them. I talk to them and explain to them what the scene is, what it’s purpose is, why they are doing certain things–because they relate to the story–not to the scene.” (Hitchcock, 1963). This has been exactly my approach during my whole filming experience: in most cases, I didn’t tell my sitters what to say or how to pronounce those words, I only told them what my needs were, what the scenes were about and I tried to explain my “vision”, doing my best to involve them into the representation of the subject matter using what it was already there, inside of each one of them.

A lot more can be said about the influence of Cinema in my work, starting from the process my sitters undertake to release their negative emotions and memories during the shooting phase, something similar to Lars Von Trier’s “Riget – The Kingdome”, in which characters hide, or discover in some cases, events related to their past.

Anyway, if I would have to define a Film Director who has been crucial in the development of my practice, also photographically speaking, that would be David Lynch. As I will have the chance to deeper analyse in a following article entirely dedicated to this great Film Director, his movies, TV Shows and photographic images are surreal experiments that allow viewers to encompass with their own imagination. The familiar and the unfamiliar are strictly interconnected and this creates a sense of turmoil in the audience who does not know exactly what to expect and how to interpret what they see. His characters are often an “obscure”, they function as mirrors for the observers, mirrors that sometimes force them to emotionally and psychologically deal with those parts of themselves voluntarily kept hidden due to those social norms that regulate their everyday lives and “public behaviours”. Moreover, the audience is often asked to make an effort in detecting details that cannot be seen at a first glance.

One of the most inspiring scenes of his movies, that certainly influence the creation of a section of my short documentary, was the Mulholland Drive’s “Club Silencio” scene in which a woman starts singing into an almost empty theatre. Just like her voice was a recording, an echo of a past pain that still affects her, even if in a very theatrical way, the recorded voices in four different Languages, an extract of my video “I can hear you now, four character empathising with the Author”, represents an echo of my past but, at the same time, a shared condition, represented by the doppelgänger “emerging from my soul”. She shares my pain like the two Mulholland Drive’s protagonists share the pain of the singer.

David Lynch, Mulholland Drive, Club Silencio scene, 2001, Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France. Video released on Youtube on November 2016.  ©David Lynch/Lynchnet.

One last author who influenced the creation of a section of[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]” was Michael Betancourt with his 2013 “Dancing Glithc”. In this experimental 2.5-minute duration video the artist combined the original footage of 1896 Louis Lumière’s film “Danse serpentine, vue no. 76”, created with the American dancer and choreographer Loïe Fuller and his famous Glitch technique. The score here, has been used to recreate sounds to enhance its visual impact employing a process that he defined as “a variation on the idea of “feedback” where the output of one stage becomes material to be glitched, manipulated and then mixed back into the original raw material” (Betancourt on Otherzine, 2013). My first emotional reaction to this movie was very strong and I immediately realised that I wanted something similar to be included, in a different way and with different aims, into my documentary. Thanks to the collaboration of the videomaker and editor Alessio Mattia and the music composer Elena Maro I have been able to recreate a sense of lost childhood using music, sounds and a sort of glitch.

I could provide further example about how Cinema influenced my practice, but the main one, in my opinion, is the will to go beyond and create new visual experiments using moving image and try to focus my professional practice more in this direction in the future because, as Erika Balsom stated in her “Original Copies: How Film and Videos became Art Objects”, “Today, films and videos are regularly sold as art objects […] The moving image might have once challenged the traditional museum, but in the 1990s, endowed with a new large-scale mode of display, it was recruited by museums to secure relevance in an increasingly competitive marketplace, demanding breathtaking, immersive experiences” (Balsom, 2013).

 

References:

Balsom Erika, Original Copies: How Film and Videos became Art Objects, Cinema Journal, vol 53, no. 1, Fall 2013 issue. Pp. 97-118.

Betancourt Michael, Dancing Glithc, 2013, USA, video released on Batancourt’s official Vimeo account “Cinegraphic” https://vimeo.com/cinegraphic

Betancourt Michael, The Process of Eupraxis in Making Dancing Glitch, on Otherzine, issue #32, Spring 2013 http://www.othercinema.com/otherzine/the-process-of-eupraxis-in-making-dancing-glitch-2013/

Burton Tim, Ed Wood, 1994, Touchstone Pictures, USA. Official Trailer, released on Youtube in 2010 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CawVaHxWvnA

Chaplin Charlie, The Great Dictator, 1940, Charles Chaplin Film Corporation/United Artists, USA.

Costandi Mo, The Psychology of Alfred Hitchcock, October 2017 issue https://neurophilosophy.wordpress.com/2006/10/17/the-psychology-of-alfred-hitchcock/

Hitchcock Alfred, Alfred Hitchcock presents, 1960 on Hitchcock Zone official page https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Alfred_Hitchcock_Presents

Hitchcock Alfred, 1963 Interview with Alfred Hitchcock, with Peter Bogdanovic, originally published in Peter Bogdanovic, The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock, 1963, MoMA, NY, USA. https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1999/hitchcock/interview/index.html

Hitchcock Alfred, Hitchcock’s definition of Happiness. Source: “A Talk with Alfred Hitchcock”, 1964, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation https://youtu.be/14dOICbwSIs

Hitchcock Alfred, The wrong Man, 1956, Warner Bros, USA.

Jarmush Jim, Dead Man, 1995, Demetra J. MacBride/Miramax Films, USA.

Keaton Buster, Perché era un fenomeno, Buster Keaton, on Il Post Internazionale, February 2016 Issue, Author Unknown http://www.ilpost.it/2016/02/01/perche-era-un-fenomeno-buster-keaton/

Lynch David, Lynchnet http://www.lynchnet.com/

Lynch David, Machines Abstraction & Women, 2009, Les Galeries Lafayette, Paris. Video released on Youtube on November 2009, Images and Montage by Stephan di Bernardo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1zLJU-Vv_M

Lynch David, Mulholland Drive, 2001, produced by Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France.

Lumière Louis, Danse serpentine, vue no. 76, 25th November 1896, Lumière Brothers, Paris, France.

Marconi Dayana, Cinema as creative references, released on Dayana Marconi CRJ, Module Surfaces and Strategies, August 2017 issue https://daybydaydayana.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/cinema-as-a-creative-reference/

Marconi Dayana S., [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], 2018, Rome/Asti/Los Angeles, video released on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/269339225

Marker Chris, La Jetée, 1962, Argos Film, France. Released on Youtube by Whitechapel Gallery in 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6anMLFwHFqs

Maro Elena, Award winning composer for film, television and media, songwriter, singer. Official website https://www.elenamaro.com/

Mattia Alessio, videomaker, editor liligish@virgilio.it

Møldrup, C. and Knudsen, P., Lykkepiller, livsstilsmedicin og medicineret normalitet i depressionsbehandling, in Sørensen, A. and Thomsen, H.J., 2005. (ed.) Det svære liv: Om lidelsen i den moderne kultur. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

Munteanu Andrada, The aesthetics of depressionin the work of Lars Von Trier, Ethical Considerations on “Depression Trilogy”, Masteroppgave i Medievitenskap Institutt for informasjons- og medievitenskap Høsten, 2016, Universitetet I Bergen, Bergen, Norway. Pp. 8, 82.

Shore Scripts, Screenwriting course page https://courses.shorescripts.com/

Young Neil, Dead Man, Dead Man OST, 1996, Vapor, USA.

Von Trier Lars, Antichrist, 2009, Zentropa Entertainments, Denmark/Germany/Belgium/UK/France.

Von Trier Lars, Melancholia, 2011, Zentropa Entertainments, Denmark | Sweden | France | Germany.

Von Trier Lars, Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II, Forget about love, 2013, Zentropa Entertainments, Denmark/Germany/Belgium/UK/France.

Von Trier Lars, Riget, 1994-1997, Denmark, Released on Youtube on September 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVkDJRTx13Y

Von Trier Lars, Riget-The Kingdom, 1994-1997, Denmark, Official Page on Imdb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108906/