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Manifesta 2018 

Sergio Racanati (b. in Bari, Italy, 1982) lives and works between the north and south of Italy and in several Artistic Residency all over the globe. He graduated at the European School of Design (Milan).

In June, the artist presented his site-specific research as part of the “Living room” project promoted by Spazio Y and curated by Paolo Assenza, Ilaria Goglia, Silvia Marsano and Germano Serani, in the evocative setting of Palazzo Savona (Via Roma 206). It is a research born from a period of residency and dialogue with the social environment in which it took place: Palermo, a paradigmatic city of contemporary complexities and the Italian Capital of Culture 2018. The project, part of a series of residencies (Palermo, Marseille, Matera, Serignan) that the artist chose as a format and mechanism to develop an artistic research, focuses on the concept of artistic residency as a venue for personal and collective learning and development. The message is brought through meetings, debates or possible exhibitions, aiming to question a vision of the SOUTH. The concept of the original idea is that interrupting the daily routine, changing the perception and use of time, moments of sharing between the artist and professionals in a specific place, and encountering a new culture, can be catalytic of the processes of knowledge acquisition, exchange and communication. In such way, the project activates “unframed,” informal and non-certified knowledge, but highly valuable in terms of gaining new approaches of being and thinking, both by the artist and by those with whom he shares his experience during the residency period (local artists, collaborators and other professionals, specialized and non-specialized public meetings, or those who are involved by the artist in any of the activities he promotes).


Manifesta 2018 

Precisely in this context of network building, on June 17 the artist participated in the creation of Alfredo Jaar’s performance, promoted by FatStudio (Alessandro Brighetti / Giulio Cassanelli), in the town of Corleone. The project takes place in a building seized from the Mafia, readapted and brought back to the community, through the RAID program, aimed at contributing to the demolition of the dark mythology around Corleone, through a distributed artistic contribution.

The large number of people and institutions cooperating in the project is made possible through a shared vision between public and private organizations, which have chosen to support the artist’s post-ideological journey with no creative or temporal limitations. It is also a sign of the profitable collaboration between organizations aiming to promote and disseminate the newest forms of artistic experimentation. For this reason, our choice was to support the creation of a new project by the artist Sergio Racanati, the research of which concerns public issues like community political behaviors and the relationship between individual and collective memory. To deal with these themes, there are many tools of his artistic language: performances, installations, videos and films. The operational methodology and strategy of these tools is part of the debate on so-called ” Conversational Institutions,” intended to rethink the way in which the institutions and the artistic sphere interact to providing access to and disseminating culture, in which the citizens’ dialectical practice becomes a key player in the process of institutional shaping and art itself.


Manifesta 2018 

A.S.Manifesta is not the first artistic residence that has led you to experience the interruption of daily life, a new place of narration through its social and political context. Does the Living Room project with Spazio Y differ in any way from the other residences in which you participated?

S.R. The main idea is that the interruption of the daily routine, the variation of the perception and use of time, the moments of sharing between the artist and the professionals in a specific place and the encounter with a new culture, act as catalysts for processes of acquisition, exchange and circulation of knowledge. In the numerous artistic residences in which I have been, I have always activated a knowledge “not framed”, informal and not certified, but still valid and valuable for the acquisition of new ways of doing and thinking – both mine and those who came into direct contact during the periods of residence (local artists, collaborators and other professionals, specialized non-specialized public that meets or is involved in the activities promoted by the artist).

Also in this artistic residence promoted and curated by Spazio Y, Paolo Assenza, Ilaria Goglia, Silvia Marsano, Germano Serafini, who have opened a space in Palermo for the Manifesta 12 season, the methodology was the same. I see the artistic residence as a device for the development of artistic research, it’s a place for learning and personal and collective development. For the “Living Room” residence, held at Palazzo Savona in Palermo and implemented thanks to the support of the SuothHeritage Foundation for the contemporary art of Matera and the project “Puglia Circuito del Contemporaneo” (created and directed by Giusy Caroppo and promoted in collaboration with Ettore Pomarici Santomasi Foundation of Gravina in Puglia and Polo Museale della Puglia), I have activated a wide network of collaborations between institutions, triggering a project shared between public and private companies, who have chosen to support the realization of my new DEBRIS / DETRITI project. This project involves public sphere topics, the relationships between communities, between individual memory and collective one, communicated trough several artistic languages: performances, situations, installations, videos and films. My artistic research is based on the experience of a context (artificial, natural, anthropized and etc.), so the format of artistic residence plays an important role in the construction and design of the project. In this framework, I believe the format of artistic residence allows:

  • to activate interventions within and in the territory;

  • to create devices for analysis and other representation of the context in which it acts;

  • to experience a certain type of living, understood as participation and civil interaction.

For these reasons I consider the residential period not a self-referential process, but a possible catalyst, a platform that leads the project and the artistic research to interact with dynamic and structures of a territory. Within the great crisis that the current artistic production is facing too, I believe the artistic residence is an operative methodology for overcoming and reactivating processes of renewal of sense of making art and of the status of artist.

A.S. How does an Artistic Residence interact and is it able to influence an event like Manifesta and Palermo, archetypal city and Italian capital of culture 2018?

S.R. I’ll respond according to my experience of artistic residence, which took place during Manifesta. For me it was a chance to deepen my research and investigations on marginal, liminal territories. Palermo is certainly one of these territories. I would define it the Capital of the Mediterranean and the geopolitical revolution we are witnessing. It’s truly kaleidoscopic. In a nutshell it’s a chameleon, it’s elegant, magical, possessive, devastating, worrying and sensual. It’s a perfect scenario to host the biennial of Manifesta and open the city to contemporary thinking. My experience during the period of residence, especially thanks to Manifesta, a major international event dedicated to contemporary art, has led me back to work and reflect on the institutional and artistic sphere that has the task of spread and facilitate the access to culture. In this framework, thanks also to the assistance of the conversational practice (which becomes the protagonist of an action of an active and conscious thinking of the institutions), during my residence I have woven a sort of map of relations, contacts, comparisons, with a constellation of political subjects who live and work in different districts of the city, to be able to involve citizens as much as possible in a speech on the SOUTH and on the potential political value the the SOUTH may have.

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