Although our focus is on the art of moving image, participating in art residency makes it impossible to separate genres and media when the borders are washed away by the free flow of artistic experiments. Passagi Atina curated by the artists, curators, and so much more Jude Cowan Montague and Chris Simpson is just one of those cases.
Atina Superiore. © Ivan Filippo Tavolieri
Atina Art Residency 2018
A small valley in Atina Superiore (Upper Atina)* which the windows of Asillo are facing is a huge bowl of sounds, an amplifier, and an echo chamber.
Church bells, barking dog, a rehearsing trombonist, crying baby, children playing football, Mat Armstrong accordion, – were all making the soundtrack of Atina residency. It was equally inspiring to the poet Emma Roper-Evans, and a sound artist Umia Kukathashan. Carrying their inspiration down the hill to the valley of Lower Atina, full of sounds and objects awaken by Mia’s experiments, they created a unique collaborative piece Pool Palisade Concerto.
Mia coaxed sounds out of Atina that filled the valley. Old cans, pots, canisters, all used as instruments, as were fence posts, railings, wire netting. Under her dexterous hands every inert object became a tool for sound. She led a Pool Paling Concert played by various artists and recorded with writers and artists to produce new sound work that wafted around the town and its fields.
Working with Emma's poem, India Roper-Evans, a Berlin-based photographer and video artist made work in the building of the abandoned Paper Factory, La Cartiera. Another collaborative piece of the residency this time moving image and poetry reading coming together.
© Saturn Stamps, Emma Roper-Evans & India Roper-Evans, 2018
La Cartiera played a role of a backdrop for the lives of many, from people who worked there fifty years ago to the refugees of the second decade of the 21st century, who hid there before their status was legitimized, and the new chapter of their lives began. The refugees are now housed in the building adjacent to the factory. Susana Sanroman, London-based artist worked with these people, exploring themes of the lost and newly found identity. Beautiful images of young men and women who have undergone dangerous and expensive journeys to get to Europe fleeing war, poverty and conflict elsewhere. By placing the young, newly arrived, in the old abandoned site, which used to employ most of the town, she examines the rejuvenating effects of immigration on the continent.
Alén do Mar, digital still. © Susana Sanroman, 2018.
Working with her sister Silver Bohus-Roper as a model and an actor, India Roper Evans kept exploring abandoned spaces of Atina. The old hospital, the old school, the old paper factory, all stimuli for her video work. Bodies move around each, live ghosts in abandoned spaces, crunching on shards, entering operating rooms, ploughing through long dropped schoolwork and books. Lone human in the now human-less; spaces that were hives of activity for healing, teaching, learning and paper making once. Sisters creative collaboration they document abandonment and loss.
Curating the residency for the second year, Jude Cowan Montague is a prolific artist herself. Her multifaceted practice is a cross-channel outpour that doesn't discriminate against any art form, technique, or genre form drawing and painting, to music and radio. Her last year video recording developed into a piece called Painting the Town Red.
Painting the Town Red. © Jude Cowan Montague. 2017/18.
In 2018, wolves and local landscapes advanced her work. Lazio, with its wild mountains and forests, inspired her to do a series of paintings using paints and varnishes that glisten and wink. Creatures that dominate the European imagination become both fearsome and magnificent in her textured impasto works, reinserting them into an Italian narrative.
Wolves (4 of many). © Jude Cowan Montague. 2018.
Unlike Judes explorations, Chris Simpson's work was confined to the Atina proper. The lovely streets of the old town become thoroughfares for tiny, mantled madonas who climb up and down the steep alleyways and steps leading to the Duomo. Prompted by the Festival of the Assumption celebrated by the town, Chris Simpson investigates the symbolism and power of this figure, which represents both fertility and purity and is traditionally taken around the town to bless and protect it for the ensuing year.
Madonas. Chris Simpson, 2018.
Playing all over town serenading residents, shopkeepers, tourists, passers-by, Matt Scott looked at local traditional and classical music. Drawing on works by local composer Samuele Pagano 1883-1972 and the Zampagno, double chantered pipes, that are produced and played in Lazio, he fused styles to make music that was simultaneously unique and recognisable. His musical interventions in the town provided a great bridge to the Atina community.
Matt Scott extemporaneous performance at the Atina Station, 2018.
A Red Cross was Julia Maddison's signature during her time in Atina, catching it on First Aid boxes, old hospital signs and orphanage walls, she made fragile works of place. Tiny horses beat their way to large madonnas or casually grazed near hospital tents, all using found materials that spoke of a perilous world in need of care and close attention.
Dame di Atina, Installation, in situ. Julia Maddison, 2018.
Working in uncharacteristically small format, Cassandra Mahoney challenged herself with the task of turning a picturesque grander of the surrounding mountains into and intimate painting diary. Bright squares of colour reinterpret mountains and woods. She used small sheets of paper, and canvases for her diptychs pairing down the monumental landscape, its vibrant hues and shapes, condense its grandeur into single intense views of place.
Atina Mountains. Cassandra Mahoney, 2018
Making sculptures out of found local readymades, and using the latest panoramic photo recording technology to capture the space, Vanja Karas forms new geographies out of old sites, drawing on their history and purpose to form a unique and deliberated view of abandonment. Combination of hi-tech visuals with the historical objects provide a striking and powerful contrast making time passage almost palpable.
Installation, in situ. Vanja Karas, 2018.
Old plastic chairs, sheeting, scrolls of wire, metalwork all ended up in Gzillion Artist's sculptures of locality. The things we leave behind became memento mori transformed into works laden with meaning and abstraction. The elements played a benevolent part in his installation by creating a violent rainstorm that shattered the material and was captured on Gzillion Artist's phone camera.
Water Explosion, video still. Gzillion Artist, 2018.
With her iPhone as a recording device, Veronica Shimanovskaya captured everyday topography, the daily passages that turned into Atina video sketch I Passi Che Facciamo (The Steps We Make), implying a wider perspective, a live that consists of singular moments, and echoing the theme of the residency Passagi (Passages).
I Passi Che Facciamo (The Steps We Make), 2018 © V.Shimanovskaya
Nest, found twigs, and branches. V. Shimanovskaya 2018.
Combined with a sculptural piece Nest, built out of the found twigs and eventually incorporating an abandoned nest of a magpie (La gazzaladra) her work was a multi-dimensional response, to both townscape and landscape of Atina. She also presented a completed piece, filmed in the local farmer Coppola's yard in 2017.
Sheep and their sense of colour. V. Shimanovskaya 2017/18.
Speaking with local inhabitants Natalja Jezova engaged directly with the townspeople, asking them to sit for her, she made a series of 49 photographic portraits.
Portraits. Natalia Jezova, 2018
Portraits, in situ. Natalia Jezova, 2018. (also visible: Wolves, by Jude Cowan Montague, and Class by Riitta Hakkarainen).
Her face-to-face contact with so many meant that this year the private view was packed with people wanting to see the work.
Natalia's video sketchbook video is full of tongue-in-cheek but tender impressions of the town and its inhabitants, including artists themselves, stone seas out of the cobbled streets and walls. an the running mountain river.
In Movimento (In Motion). Natalia Jezova, 2018
Riitta Hakkarainen installation animated by Mia's soundtrack is also inspired by engagement with the living community – Mia made a recording of those who had lived in the orphanage or attended classes there before it was shut - and Riitta recreating the primary school class which closed decades ago. using the objects remained in the building to arrange her wire mesh figures around: a haunting invocation of the past, both in sound and substance.
Class, installation by Riitta Hakkarainen, 2018.
Another close interaction with Atina residents happened at the Monday Market, when Magdalena Papanikolopoulou, inspired by the history of Atina's Visocchi family created her piece. Performance artist and flaneur she walked the streets of Atina on market day dressed in a wedding skirt decorated with the messages to the viewing public, with a baby doll firmly attached to her head, smiling and engaging with everyone in the thronged streets. Accompanied by a Matt's bayan, she beamed and waved, talked and enthralled as she paraded its squares and mountain thoroughfares. In a single hour she gave the town enough to mull over for a year!
Bella Fantasia. Magdalena Papanikolopoulou, 2018.
Coating one of the old Roman stones in the town with Chinese paper, Rachelle Allen Sherwood referenced global cultures and encounters. Her performance at the Palazzo Ducale involved a homemade musical instrument , a costume and spoken word, and an ode to Saturn, in which she examined place and polity from an artist’s perspective.
Rachelle Allen Sherwood, 2018.
Alice Naylor – Stitching and drawing, reimagining and researching, she created garments for former paper factory workers. Collecting old photographs and documents of this once crucial industry to the town, she reinvented the paper factory in thread, from its great fans to its rain droplet windows. Reanimating Atina’s industrial history in textile.
Reminiscing about loss and renewal was another work made during the residency. Massimiliano Battista's free ensemble of wire mesh, swags of painted cloth and torn plastic sheeting used to create a sculptural piece for the town that spoke of loss and renewal, primeval longing and contemporary desire. The painted sections surface through the veil of the sheeting and are covered again: Hiding and revealing, displaying and concealing. Peep Show for Saturn, the god of Atina.
In situ. Massimiliano Battista, 2018.
Harley Price's graffiti using dyes from the old paper factory and delicate line drawings left a brief mark on the town, causing delight to some and grief to some others. The inhabitants of Atina, a historical town taking its birth in pre-Roman times weren't all happy of animal skulls emerging from ochre walls: the work of some prehistoric inhabitant or totally contemporary? Found furniture sculptures combining filing cabinets and office chairs also made use of Atina items to theatrical effect.
Atina is town situated halfway between Rome and Naples.