VIA APPIA PARK
A pile of broken stones
For my intervention for Exploded View I have taken as a starting point Pier Paolo Pasolini’s claim that the ‘ragazzi di vita’ (street urchins, hustlers) who mentored him in his explorations of the Roman outskirts, showed nothing but indifference towards ancient monuments. Pasolini’s earliest mention of this attitude can be found in the short stories he wrote the early 1950s, especially in Squarci di notti romane [‘Glimpses of Roman nights’]. The narrator relates how for Arnardo, a ‘ragazzo di vita’, the Theatre of Marcellus, the Colosseum, are nothing but than ‘a pile of broken stones’ [‘quattro pietre rotte’]. Such an indifference was surprising and yet refreshing for Pasolini, who «wanted to try for a moment to wander around Rome possessing within himself, in all his cells, the Geography of the boy. [...] He would no longer know which way the Tyrrhenian Sea lies, how many years separate us from the death of Belli, and finally hate the broken stones of the Theatre of Marcellus». For Pasolini the true, authentic ‘origin’ is not to be found in the ‘broken stones’, i.e. the monuments, artefacts frozen in museums; that antiquity is not vital; the archaic dimension is embodied in the ragazzi di vita. This discovery would inform Pasolini’s subsequent literary and cinematic works at least until Hawks and Sparrows (1966). In his first film Accattone (1961), Pasolini expounded what he thought was the Roman sub-proletariat’s attitude towards antiquity in a scene of set on the Appia Antica. I have chosen that scene as the subject of my work for Exploded View as it sums up a certain critical attitude that I endorse.
Building on research I carried a few years ago [Jacopo Benci, ‘“An extraordinary proliferation of layers”: Pasolini’s Rome(s)’, in Dorigen Caldwell, Lesley Caldwell (eds), Rome: Continuing Encounters between Past and Present (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 151-186], my work plan includes the following:
● a study of the relationship between Pasolini and ‘the antique’, involving research in libraries in Rome, such as the Central National Library, the Umberto Barbaro Cinema Library, the Library of the Department of History of Art and Spectacle at Sapienza;
● a survey of the Via Appia Antica, Fourth Mile, to gather a ‘re-photographic’ documentation of the two main locations (the so-called ‘Pyramid’ mausoleum and the standing statue of a man in a toga) used by Pier Paolo Pasolini in the film Accattone;
● extracting relevant footage and audio from a DVD of Accattone at a professional video editing facility;
● shooting video footage of the Via Appia Antica, Fourth Mile, approximating as much as possible the positions and angles of the original matching shots of Accattone;
● editing (at the aforementioned professional editing facility) my video footage on the Via Appia Antica, with the visual and sound elements drawn from the Pasolini film;
● develop a commentary to articulate Pasolini’s concept of (metaphorically and literally) ‘turning one’s back’ to the past, and of the ruins as ‘a pile of broken stones’; Integrate the above elements into a video work, which may also be accompanied by works combining still image and text, and possibly by a presentation (lecture).
Come l’acqua che scorre
What interests me is the cyclical repetition of the rhythms of nature in its infinite diversity. The world passing by At first glance, it seems that people are there to stroll, jog, cycle, ride on horseback, walk their dogs… The monuments, statues, stone fragments, show themselves in their immobility (actually a slow, imperceptible change) while all around, people, plants, light, air, move and change as fast as the wind.
Walking on the basalt paving stones reminded me of the paths in Japanese gardens: one must watch one’s step; irregularity requires a certain attention. Trying taijiquan steps on the paving stones is an interesting experience, both physically and mentally. I invited a dancer and taijiquan practitioner, to try taijiquan with me on the Appia Antica.
These themes come together into a video piece, entitled Come l’acqua che scorre (‘Like flowing water’). I watch the world going by and walking on the stones of the Appia Antica; a sound collage by Alvin Curran [On The Roads, for DeutschlandRadio Kultur, 2007] accompanies my video footage. Everything moves and transforms. The gaze focuses and wanders, the landscape contains sounds, voices, images/phenomena. Preserving the splendour of nature, of the visible. No separation between subject and object; the landscape is no longer what I see, but nature in its entirety, in its life. We are part of this life. Careful observation makes the slow transformative process visible. Along the road, plants grow spontaneously, creep into the ruins, the holes in stones and walls; they adapt and endure.
«Rome is in a very special condition. It is an area that has been continuously inhabited for almost 3000 years, without interruption. [...] We can therefore consider Rome as an experiment of particular interest in interpreting the genesis of synanthropic flora. [...] Archaeological areas may also be identified with the definition of ‘neglected land’ [friche] expressed in the concept of Third Landscape (Gilles Clément, 2005), a place where one can find its most characteristic elements, such as ‘uncultivated terrains, hedges, margins, street edges, sidewalks, flowerbeds, abandoned land, wasteland [...] places that are on the verge of being reduced or suppressed’, but that are nevertheless fundamental as a refuge for biodiversity.» [Fernando Lucchese, Erika Pignatti, 2009]
An investigation on the plants of the Park may bring about many discoveries and surprises. Following the approaches of Gilles Clément, Stefano Mancuso, François Jullien, I will weave different visions and methods together. With the help of botanist Giovanni Buccomino in the identification of plants, my work will yield photos, herbaria, books, drawings, and further elements and interpretations.
Paola Romoli Venturi
to touch-(1) research-(2) embodied map-(3) play-(4)
BASOLO’s View project starts from the volcanic stone elements that compose Via Appia Antica and from its route from Rome to Brindisi. The BASOLO has the ability to go back in time, even before the Romans. It is made by the lava stone extracted from the Colata di Capo di Bove which was formed about 260,000 years ago during the eruptive phase of the Vulcano Laziale. Starting from the BASOLO - a single volcanic stone element that makes up the BASOLATO – I create an exploded view of Via Appia in different physical, historical and conceptual directions ACTION1.1 TO TOUCH - To get in touch with the material of the BASOLO. I visited the tomb of Cecilia Metella, where there is the end of the lava flow of Capo di Bove and the Fiorucci and Boncompagni Ludovisi quarries
ACTION1.2 TO CHOOSE - Inside the BASOLO I can find the history of the road. I Choose, photograph, reproduce in a 1:1 scale drawing/frottage and analyze a single BASOLO.
ACTION2.1 RESEARCH/TO STUDY - The BASOLO will provide us with vibration support. I enter into the road structure. Supported by an archaeologist, I study the Roman construction technique, analyzing the groud on which the BASOLO is laid. I verify the sound absorption perspective. Moreover, I study the use of the road over the centuries through the traces left on the BASOLATO and several restorations
ACTION2.2 TO MAP - The route of the via Appia Antica from Rome to Brindisi becomes the pentagram on which the score of the sound performance will be drawn. I received from the Parco Archeologico dell'Appia Antica – MIBAC a .dwg file with the survey of 13 km in an environmental scale with the basolato symbolically represented. I thank Dr. Rita Paris and Dr. Bartolomeo Mazzotta - graphics elaborated by Dr. Monica Cola
ACTION3.1 EMBODIED BASOLO - Performative pilot action-solitary exploration I place myself on the chosen BASOLO. I touch it with my feet, with my hands; I get in touch with the energy of the BASOLO, searching for the internal and external exploded view, which I will externalize through the emission of a sound/silence/gesture/word
ACTION3.2 EMBODIED MAP - Participative performative action on Via Appia Antica I would like to involve people walking along the road from Rome to Brindisi to choose their own BASOLO in order to search for the sound/silence/gesture/word of their BASOLO and externalize it. The position of the chosen BASOLOs will be identified and recorded on the map in order to create a score on the pentagram/road. The BASOLOs become communication keys between people across space and time.
ACTION4.1 TO PLAY - I invite a musician to collaborate and play the score created on the map. The performer can read the score with the dodecaphonic technique or you can invite different performers (instrumentalists or choristers) to make a note by placing himself on the basolo The pentagram is the 13 km survey of Appia Antica inside the park. Full and empty spaces create the rhythm. The individual basols are the notes.BASOLO’s sound
ACTION5.1 Rome/Amsterdam participated performative action a contact action could be organized at the same time in Rome and Amsterdam, through a catalyst to be identified in the Amstelpark. e.g. columns site specific installation for the exhibition: BASOLO's frottage,1:1 drawing of BASOLATO’s survey, drawing of map/pentagram, drawing of EMBODIED MAP to play, photos of the hands and feet that touch and choose the BASOLOs, performance, or BASOLO's sound concert, Possible interactions between Rome and Amsterdam
The Transfusioni project, conceived and directed by curator Anna D’Elia in collaboration with artists Tomaso Binga (Bianca Menna), Silvia Stucky and Paola Romoli Venturi, aims to encourage and urge ‘trans-fusions’ of ideas, places, contexts, subjects among Italian and foreign artists from different backgrounds and practices. The project has its headquarters at the Menna/Binga Archive, the Rome branch of the Filiberto & Bianca Menna Foundation. Since 2016, the exhibitions of the Transfusioni project have put works by contemporary artists in dialogue with historic works of the Archival collection.
Silvia Stucky lives and works in Rome. Her work includes painting, artist’s books, installation, video, photography and performance. Environmental and social issues are central to Stucky’s work, whose underlying themes are water as stillness and mutability, and the simplicity and profundity of everyday life. She has exhibited in galleries and museums in Italy, Argentine, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Indonesia, India, Iran, Morocco, Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey.
Paola Romoli Venturi lives and works in Rome. Her artistic research is linked to the value of transparency as a means of communicating. In her work she touches upon social themes, creating spaces designed by light shadows and sounds, using different expressive pictorial sculptural means, video, audio and site specific performative installations. She currently works on the performative project ‘ROVESCIARE’ for the MACRO museum, Rome.
Jacopo Benci lives and works in Rome. His work encompasses video/film, photography, installation, drawing/painting, performance. Between 1998 and 2013, he was Assistant Director for Fine Arts of the British School at Rome (BSR). He curated over 60 exhibitions of artists and architects at the BSR and other venues. He was BSR Senior Research Fellow in Modern Studies, 2013-18. He is currently part-time Lecturer in Contemporary Art History at Istituto Europeo di Design, Rome. He is also active as a musician.