Places #3 | Sergio Racanati

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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).

The artist presented in June his site-specific research as a part of the ‘Living room’ project promoted by Spazio Y and curated by Paolo Assenza, Ilaria Goglia, Silvia Marsano and Germano Serani, in a suggestive setting of Palazzo Savona (via Roma 206). It’s a research originated from a period of residence and dialogue with the social sphere in which it took place: Palermo, a paradigm city of the complexities of the contemporary and the Italian capital of culture 2018. The project, being a part of a series of complex residences (Palermo, Marseille, Matera, Serignan) chosen by the artist as a format and device for developing an artistic research, focuses on the concept of artistic residence as a place of learning and personal and collective development. The message is brought forward through meetings, debates or possible exhibitions, with the aim of questioning a vision of the SOUTH. The original idea is that the interruption of the daily routine, the variation of the perception and use of time, the shared moments between the artist and professionals in a specific place and the meeting with a new culture, can be catalysts for the processes of acquisition, exchange and circulation of the knowledge. This way the project activates a knowledge that is ‘unframed’, informal and not certified, but yet very valuable in terms of acquisition of new ways of doing and thinking, both by the artists and those who he share his experience with during the residential period (local artists, collaborators and other professionals, specialized and non- specialized public meeting or being involved by the artist in any of promoted by him activities).

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Manifesta 2018 

In this very context of network building, on the 17th of June the artist participated in the implementation of the performance of Alfredo Jaar, promoted by FatStudio (Alessandro Brighetti / Giulio Cassanelli), in the municipality of Corleone. The project is held in a building confiscated from the mafia, repurposed and returned to the community, through the RAID program, which aims to contribute to the demolition of dark mythology around Corleone, trough widespread artistic contribution.

The vast number of people and institutions collaborating on the project is made possible thanks to a shared vision between public and private realities, who have chosen to support the post-ideology path of the artist without setting any creative and temporal boundaries. It is also a sign of the fruitful cooperation between organizations whose goal is to promote and spread the newest forms of artistic experimentation. That’s why we chose to support the creation of a new project by the artist Sergio Racanati, whose research covers public topics like the political behaviors of the communities and the relationships between individual memory and collective memory. To address these themes, his artistic language tools are several: performances, situations, installations, videos and films. The methodology and operational strategy of these tools is a part of the debate of so-called ‘conversational institutions’ aimed at re-thinking how the institutional and artistic sphere interact to provide access to and spread the culture, where the dialectic practice of citizens becomes the protagonist of the process of shaping institutions and art itself.

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Manifesta 2018 

A.S. Not only Manifesta, but also several other artistic residences have often led you to experience the interruption of everyday life and became a place where starting the narrative of the political and social context of the territory during that time. How is the Living Room Project as Spazio Y different from other residences?

S.R. The main idea is that the interruption of the daily routine, the variation of the perception and use of time, the shared moments between the artist and professionals in a specific place and the meeting with a new culture, function as catalysts for processes of acquisition, exchange and circulation of knowledge. In the many art residences I have been, I’ve always activated a knowledge ‘unframed’, informal and not certified, but still valid and valuable for the acquisition of new ways of doing and thinking – both mine and those who come had direct contact with it during the residential periods (local artists, collaborators and other professionals, specialized public non-specialized that meets or is involved in promoted by the artist activities).

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 the artistic residence, intended as a learning environment, can interact and influence an event like Manifesta and Palermo, an archetypal city, in its difficult conditions of contemporary and an 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.