Saturday December 5 2020, for the XVI Giornata del Contemporaneo established by AMACI, The Association for Italian Contemporary Art Museums, MACTE makes available on its website for 24 hours only the video la carta ricorda by Valentina Vetturi.
The video work focuses on the material and symbolic value of paper, departing from visiting the Paper Masters of Putignano (BA), famous for creating the carriages for the Carinval parade in Puglia. The works has been produced by Regione Puglia - Dipartimento Turismo, Economia della Cultura e Valorizzazione del Territorio in the context of the Project for European Territorial Cooperation SPARC, financed by the Programme Interreg V-A Grece-Italy 2014/2020.
Valentina Vetturi is an artist working with performance, sound and text.Her artworks generate from long researches into specific worlds: hackers, the law and music. Among her most recent works: Orchestra. Studio #3(Bologna, 2020), Alzeimer Cafè Umeå (Umeå, Sweden, 2018), I Never Think of the Future. It Comes Soon Comes Soon Enough (Illuminate Festival, Zug, 2018), A Better Chance to Gain Enough Entropy (Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma, 2016).
Interview with Valentina Vetturi (VV) by Caterina Riva (CR) 1st December 2020
CR Hello Valentina, la carta ricorda is a unique work in your artistic production, do you want to tell us more about your thoughts on memory, giving examples of other works you have created in recent years?
VV Hello Caterina, the theme of memory is present in almost all my research. Remembering and forgetting are two actions that define our own individual and collective identity and for this reason they interest me.
Some years ago, in 2012, I wondered: what is left of us when we are not even able to remember our name anymore? The answer I found lead to a cycle of works called Alzheimer Cafè (2014–). A series of performances, sound environments, public interventions devoted to “musical memories”. The last memories that resist even if the normal memory mechanisms degenerate are those of music, it is scientifically proven. All the works in the series Alzheimer Cafè, despite not being a documentary, include voices of people suffering from Alzheimer who sing, whisper fragments of songs, lullabies. The last work of the series was presented in 2018 in Umeå, Sweden, in the semi-circular square overlooked by the Opera House of the city, when I was invited by Valentina Sansone and Helena Wikstrom (Bildmuseet, Norrlandsoperan). A sound installation in eight channels interacts with the public space and transforms the eight benches of the square into loudspeakers of musical memories, voices that sing not to forget.
CR One of the methodologies you apply is a collaborative approach in relation to the people involved in your works, would you like to explain your approach?
VV I believe in shared intelligence, and I try to transform this belief of mine into a practice in my works. I rely on listening to the opinions of all the people involved in the work and I value their competences and personalities. I share working methods and contents with each one of them. For example, with la carta ricorda, I worked with Roberto Matarrese, who usually collaborates with me for sound works, and with Enzo Piglionica and his collaborator Giuseppe Di Chirico, who have done the shooting. The editing was done in synch, discussing every choice and creating a tight dialogue between images, sound and text. I am interested in decentralised practices, but at the same time I like that every aesthetic or content choice is careful and conscious.
In creating la carta ricorda, getting to know the Maestri Cartapestai and their willingness to share their life and work in the workshops has been important, and I shared my work practice with them, too. While remaining foreign to the context, complicity is crucial with people from other fields I am collaborating with. The distance allows a clear reading of the experience, while the closeness enables to discover details that would be inaccessible otherwise.
Moreover the dialogue with the commissioner is an integral part of the guided improvisation that generates the work; for la carta ricorda, the organizer Roberto Ricco has followed the different stages of production. I’m thinking about how open source–that is sharing the source code of a software (like Linux) or of editorial content (for example Wikipedia)–can be translated and reconciled with the artistic practice and authorship. What could it mean to share the source code of a work? Maybe it is about making the principles, the contents and the method that originate the work accessible although I am aware of the contradictions of this approach.
CR Could you tell us more in detail about the process behind the making of the video you realised in Putignano last summer?
VV I went into the Putignano Carnival workshops for the first time in December 2019. It was a very cold day, and there is no heating in the hangars…, I was introduced to the Fondazione del Carnevale di Putignano and to three Maestri Cartapestai: Deni Bianco, Vito Mastrangelo and Domenico Galluzzi. Entering their workshops, witnessing all the labour that precedes the carnival is astonishing: you discover the variety and complexity of the assemblage of a Carnival float, a colourful world characterised by patience and mastery. And then, in February 2020, I followed the parades of The Putignano Carnival, that have been celebrated for 100 years, the assembling of the float at dawn and I joined the celebrations at night.
The Carnival workshops and the parades have been recounted several times through videos and photographs, I wondered how to find a fresh look on this world. So, I started getting closer to paper, the true protagonist of these workshops, and to tell the story of the paper’s bowels, secrets and voice. A very important choice was that of telling the story from the point of view of all workshops as one. You don’t see floats or faces, the logic of the Carnival, a deeply felt competition, is thus reversed.
A key sound and video shooting was made between July and August 2020. The lockdown caused a pause in the production of the work, a time of reflection that gave us the possibility of seeing the hangars and its inhabitants in a less chaotic moment than that of the Carnival, and so more favorable to the dialogue and collaboration. That’s how I discovered that newsprint, if worked with glue of water and flour, turns into papier-mâché; and it has the memory of the cast in which it dries, and it can also lose this memory.
CR This Giornata del Contemporaneo will be held online, I know that you are developing new works implementing a new way of experiencing online contents, do you want to tell us something and perhaps mention your research in the hacker world as well…?
VV In 2014, in Brussels, I went for the first time in a hacker space and from then I was caught in the web together with the people that are designing the internet. The hackers, contrary to their mainstream image, are people, programmers, who write systems essential to our lives: from the internet, to cryptocurrencies, blockchain, future facilities for our digital identities. This research helped me look at the web more consciously and encouraged me to achieve a Master of Science in Digital Currency.
These days I am finishing a video, the last of a trilogy, TAILS, started during lockdown, dealing with the internet and new ways for online circulation of artistic work. They are short animations mixing visual poetry with web aesthetics and focussing on two verbs: remembering and forgetting.