Moira / Mɔjra / Mɔɪ.rə

Text by Marta Federici

Moira / Mɔjra / Mɔɪ.rə is the title of Caterina Silva's project, conceived to inhabit the virtual space of MACTE Digital and centred around the story of an enigmatic creature, who unexpectedly ends up inside the museum website coming from another dimension. The name chosen by the artist for this character contains a stratification of meanings and references to various cultural contexts: from the Moirai of Greek tradition, the three daughters of Night who weave the thread of fate for human beings; to the mouras encantadas of the Portuguese folklore, the ancient Dolmen builders who are said to have lived under a spell imposed on them by their fathers or brothers. In the Christian tradition, the name Moira is not amongst any of the saints mentioned in the liturgical calendar and is therefore identified as masterless. The artist has delicately remixed these distant undertones to compose a fertile terrain where to plant the seeds of a new narrative. The plot structured by Silva echoes a contemporary mythology, which germinates among 2.0 web and bears the nuances of videogames.

Expanding on the artist's research into the relationship between power and codified languages, Moira / Mɔjra / Mɔɪ.rə specifically proposes an investigation of verbal language, understood as a tool that shapes reality and as a universe in which we are immersed. The project’s lines of reasoning move on two parallel planes: in the background there is an allusion to the process of abstraction affecting language globally in the age of late capitalism - technological and financial capitalism, which produces and incessantly modifies reality through alphanumeric strings; in the foreground, there is more of a direct analysis of some of the mechanisms underlying the functioning of human beings’ language. Using Italian, her mothertongue, as a reference, Silva exposes the linguistic dimension as a non-neutral field, in which the speaking subjects’ domination over the named objects represents a pattern constantly reproduced and nurtured. The micro-dynamics of power pointed out by the artist are at once the consequence and the origin of broader processes of prevarication taking place in social reality.

Where does the boundary between subjects and objects lie beyond verbal language? When, how and why is a person referred to as an object? Neither completely "thing" nor clearly "person", Moira embodies the shifting relationship between these two poles and tries to unhinge it, shattering the device of linguistic signification with her gestures and words. Overall, the events involving this character can be read as a long exercise in deconstructing the subject (on both a linguistic and physical level), but also as an unusual transformative ritual, seeking to lead the spectators towards unknown territories, where it is still possible to try and restore to the word its capacity to describe and transform the world without subjugating it. As the artist states, "the space where this may happen is a limbo, an halfway crossing, where words that aren’t known can be used in order to generate a language that one isn’t meant to learn. These words can be used to utter mysterious and extremely dangerous things".

The project is structured in four consecutive stages aligned with the phases of the lunar calendar.
The first stage will open on Tuesday 11 May 2021, when the new moon enters the sign of Taurus; three days later, on Friday 14 May, the second stage will be unlocked; on Wednesday 19 May, Moira will enter MACTE website; then the journey will come to an end with the full moon on Wednesday 26 May, when a choral performance configured as a greeting, celebration and rite of reconnection to reality will be broadcast live on Twitch.
It will be possible to access each stage by navigating through the museum's website.
After the project, a glossary of Moira's words will be made available for download from the MACTE Digital portal.

Concept and making Caterina Silva
Curator
Marta Federici
3D animation and modeling
Ruben Piergiovanni
Soundscape
Andrea Koch
Moira’s voice
Ornella Paglialonga
Performers
Caterina Silva, Giuseppe Vincent Giampino, Marta Montevecchi, Matteo Locci, Natalia Agati
Language Consultant
Andrea Zaninello
Filming
Margherita Panizon
Produced by
MACTE Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Termoli
Design
Sezione Grafica
Code
Dude

Moira's story

Moira had lived 126,000 blinks in a limbo. It was silent and white, but it is not certain whether it was dry or wet, nor whether the action she repeated was swimming or galloping. Someone or something must have brought her to that place, because–except for a few days a year–Moira was not endowed with free will. Or rather, she believed she was not.
The dimension she came from, which she had crossed and by then abandoned, was not her native land. It mainly developed on a vertical axis and consisted of solid shapes, which in turn were made up of letters and words. There was no trace of milk or flat bread on the horizon. Since, at times, it was the horizon itself that was missing.

After a stay of a few thousand blinks, for lack of anything else, Moira had started to tear off blocks of letters protruding from the large solid constructions with her claws and eat them. Sometimes she could eat an entire word, and in those moments she felt mysterious forces pushing her eastward. To figure out where to go, Moira would trace in the air with her own body the word EAST and orient herself in the direction indicated by the limb outlining the last part of the letter. Sometimes she would finish the sequence by drawing the vertical bar of the T from top to bottom, so then she would go down Other times she would draw the top horizontal line last, from right to left, and move accordingly. Or she would start from the centre. The directions she could take were endless and were all correct, she was sure of that.

The effect of eating the individual letters, often already detached from the solids and rotting, was different. Having more of a liquid nature, the individual letters would clump in the stomach in groups of two or three, move together and cause previously ingested words to flow back to the gullet. In such cases, Moira had the feeling that she made a mistake, as if the combination of completed words and loose letters created a nefarious chemical reaction in the intestines. Both the smell produced by the fermentation of the words and the buzzing sound generated by their friction carried her to another physical and psychic dimension. Each time the digestive process was completed, Moira knew she was in a different point in space, even though the surrounding landscape had remained almost unchanged.
Somewhere along the way Moira discovered a mechanism that allowed her to shorten her walking time: all she had to do was replace the word-objects she saw as smaller with those she saw as larger. The process was troublesome but rather advantageous, as it allowed her to cover an undefined distance in a shorter time and Moira was used to moving large masses effortlessly, having been a Dolmen builder in a previous life.

At the base of one of the large solid constructions, after about 2520 beats reduced by this process to 300, Moira glimpsed at a surface of a different kind, embedded between the words our, click on, remov, guaranteed, visit, basenumb14, dollar, price, will, the most, pleas. It was a flat surface 1 bulb thick, divided into four mutually communicating portions, each circumscribed by a semi-movable frame. From the lower left-hand portion came a warm wind; from the upper right-hand portion a sequence of regular, low, dry and powerful sounds; in the other two portions one could see stagnating masses of water and vacuum. Immediately attracted by the water and perhaps even thirsty, Moira had slipped into the upper left portion without questioning the space, assuming that she would be able to come into contact with a matter so different from what she had been used to for the last 126,000 blinks. Moira ignored the word passage and was sure she didn’t eat it, however knowing no other way but to continue and having encountered no obstacles, she didn’t care about the consequences. Perhaps she took a decision or perhaps the decision chose her.