by Nico Angiuli
Berlin, 11 June 2023
From my diaries I extract some subject words, capable of conveying as a whole the sensations and reflections, vivid from my memories, of the days of residence in Intersecția.
WORKING MEAT: we have been in Brădet for a day, we have done some collective shopping and now we eat near the market, sitting in front of a meat and sausage seller. We ask him what parts the meat is made up of and he replies “WORKING MEAT”. He meant the cuts, the less valuable part of the pig.
WATERMELON TOOL: in that market where we went shopping, you can try watermelons, like everywhere else; but here the seller uses a knife that does not have a blade, but a sort of cylinder that enters the watermelon and extracts a circular portion, small enough to test its quality and flavor. I draw it.
SOUR CHERRY JAM: When Alessia woke up she went into the garden of the residence, she picked the sour cherries from the tree, a couple of large handfuls. She then pitted them and put them in a pan with honey, a little sugar and a teaspoon of salt. A fresh jam that we ate with bread, butter and cow’s milk; the latter taken by Emanuela and received by locals.
THE SCALE OF LIVING: a few hours were enough to feel that the center of everything would have rotated (as imagined in the premises) to the sense of a community of agricultural origin, which still reverberates its customs. This, in the residency project – which also includes a second stop in Puglia (in the Murge) – would have opened a reflection between these two rural cultures. In fact, I felt this “scale of living” strongly, that’s how I feel like defining it.
That set of practices, habits, customs, that tension towards repairing something rather than buying it back, that direct relationship with the landscape which becomes or remains – still – a personal place, with which to relate and from which to recover food and economies, forms of living.
HORROR VACUI: we live in the landscape of Brădet, the whole group is of Apulian origins, yet this presence of ours is quite complex to digest. We are not in the city, we have no clubs, events, shops or entertainment apart from that extraordinary possibility of capturing the spirit of a culture in its essence, which, as in Emanuela’s words, slowly disappears or is transformed under the blows of the consumer society, of industrial flavors.
We are surrounded by mountains, houses scattered in clusters, children who bring in the cows in the evening, fresh milk from the milking, a landscape that somehow reflects what, as a generation of southerners, we wanted or had to distance ourselves from. A strong rooting with the practices of living and self-sustaining. Yet we are lost, in some cases out of place, as if there was nothing to see. As if these practices didn’t still partly define the southern culture we come from. It is this space “of fear” that we are trying to decipher.
THE BIKE CHAIN: the scale of things, I’ll go back to it. Emanuela’s uncle lives for a few months of the year in the house of the residence, in these days when we are here we share everyday life. I asked Emanuela for a bike, her uncle took care of repairing it and then spent more than twenty minutes oiling the chain using a flower and used oil. He could have bought a lubricant spray instead.
CLOSE YOUR EYES: these days pass quickly, Michela has been unwell. We are a little tired and have struggled to find a balance. We tried to close our eyes, we wanted an image that could define our presence so we could share it. Closing your eyes as a strategy to abandon an entire culture of the event, of waiting for a fullness, to perceive a place through the other senses. Finding smells, the breeze, the silence, perceiving yourself.
BECOMING A LANDSCAPE: the pinnacle of our presence in the Carpathians is the drift that saw us set off on foot in a group one Sunday in mid-July and follow a herd of free-grazing cows on the hills of Brădet. The herdsman of the animals will accompany us. We meet the herd on a hill, we are surprised by the birth of a calf that was just a few hours old. We are amazed, the calf with its mother had been there since night, the cow had not returned from the pasture because she felt it was time to give birth.
We continue the journey, we keep a short distance from the animals, but at the same time we are in unison: their bells around their necks accompany us and mark their and our presence in the landscape; if they stop we do too, if they rest we do too, when they eat it is also the time for us to eat. Emanuela accompanies us and helps us with translations when we have the opportunity to talk to the herdsman.
It then happens that almost at the end of the journey Emanuela invites Alessandra and Alessia to wear two cowbells, similar to those used by the herd, I think smaller perhaps. At that moment, as I have said on other occasions, the entire project arc that Emanuela has built over the years seemed clear to me. The sound of the cowbells “dragged” the two young artists into the animal condition, they became not only the sound of the cows, but part of that place. That fear, that hostility of recognizing oneself in those places vanished thanks to a work tool in some way. The girls resonated in the landscape, somehow becoming a part of it.
“HUMAN’S NEEDS ARE DEVELOPED INSIDE THE PLACES THEY LIVE IN”..F.P.G.: I marked this sentence, I don’t remember whose it is.
SIMILARITIES: for days I have been wondering how places, food, languages are similar; between the Carpathians and my south there are infinite similarities, within these legible spaces we can weave paths of familiarity.
Nico Angiuli is an Italian visual artist. His research addresses the socio-political and historical implications of work, such as the transformation of workers’ bodies and their mechanization; the reduction of human complexity and the attempt to humanize androids; the relationship between work time and free time. Through videos, performances, and community processes he translates the gestures of work (The Tool’s Dance, 2011-2017); the logic and mechanisms that regulate Amazon’s warehouses (Amazon Dance, 2021); the current exploitation of African migrants in the Italian tomato supply chain (Tre Titoli, 2015). He is currently working on Part- Time Resistance (2022), which focuses on private forms of sabotage and resistance. He lives between Italy and Germany.
Interchange was a transnational residency between Romania and Italy which involved 8 students from the Academy of Fine Arts of Bari in July 2022. 8 days in a small village in the south-eastern Carpathians (Romania) guests of the space for art Intersecția founded by the artist Emanuela Ascari, and then another 10 days in the Murge to reflect on these places by crossing them, each with its own research to develop a collective reflection.