with the pesci.strani collective
IL DECAMERON, 2020
ex libris pesci strani
For more information about the Pesci Strani collective, find them on instagram @pesci.strani
During the quarantine due to the outbreak of the covid-19, closed in an apartment in Tuscany, “the Decameron” seems like an ideal starting point for a creative practise.
Reading Response, Jerry Saltz “What Art Is and What Artists Do”
emergency exits / uscite di emergenza
Let’s reclaim art. Let’s mix it again with our everyday lives. Let’s
use it as a means of communication rather than just an aesthetically
pleasing passive activity. This call is open for anyone to
participate. […] Not because we need evidence of our existence, but
in order to define an archival space inspired by our imagination, to
be used as an interpretation weapon. This (published) outcome will
indicate possible “emergency exits”, not forgetting that “history is a
nightmare from which we are trying to wake up.”
Pretendiamo l’arte. Mescoliamola di nuovo con la nostra vita di tutti
i giorni. Utilizziamola come mezzo di comunicazione piuttosto che solo
come attività passiva esteticamente piacevole. Questa chiamata è
aperta a chiunque voglia partecipare. […] Non perché abbiamo bisogno
di prove della nostra esistenza, ma per definire un archivio ispirato
alla nostra immaginazione, da utilizzare come arma interpretativa.
Questo risultato (pubblicato) indicherà delle possibili “uscite di
emergenza”, senza dimenticare che “la storia è un incubo da cui stiamo
provando a svegliarci”.
in such strange times i find it hard to write down my thoughts
the world seems to be rebooting, and we are all waiting to see what comes next
we have to be prepared for all the changes, but to make assumptions about them seems absurd for me
when the situation i live in is so blurred, i usually prefer to talk about it
and since i’m currently forced to be always online, feel free to ring me
we just have to reinvent our reality, that’s all.
This is an open call for individuals or/and groups to participate in a self-organised collective art platform. For those of us whose ideas of oneself and socialization, sexuality, gender role, desires and lust don’t fit into their normative rules, there is a need to meet, communicate and express ourselves: to empower personal differences and collectivity at once.
It is an urgent need to create for ourselves the narratives that represent our reality and give meaning to our actions, and not fall for their mainstream depictions of marginalization.
We have to open up possibilities and break down restrictions.
One might wonder what ultimate use is “opening up possibilities,” but no one who has understood what it is to live in the social world as what is “impossible”, illegible, unrealizable, unreal, and illegitimate is likely to pose that question.
Moreover, by coming in touch with each other through art we might be able to overcome the barriers of speech; both the barrier of different languages and the inability of speech to truly describe our feelings.
Reading response, Rebecca Solnit “The Blue of Distance”
Intro Unit “Tempo Zulu” Project:
As many scholars have pointed out, one of the main charges correlated to the witch-hunt is that of the non-productive sexual practices, for reasons that can be related with the dawn of capitalism and the attempt from the authorities to control and increase the population, that is the labor force.
Along with horny old ladies, homosexuals were also thrown into the fire.
Tracing through Siena’s own history one comes across S. Bernandino of Siena, celebrated at 20th of May. Preaching , among other topics, against sodomy (which at the time was used to describe mainly the homosexuals). We can find in this local example prejudices about gender and sexuality based on the idea of nuclear family.
Those prejudices, still existing at our times, are covered by a veil of sin, most of the times without the effort to be rationalized. Written deep in the collective subconscious, they generate waves of violence still today, characterized by practices not far from those of the witch-hunt. While at the same time, these non-normative gender and sexual roles are still not performed freely, mostly out of fear.
The streets -as the public part of the city- is the place where power relations are practiced. The streets are full of signs, giving orders to the citizens. The Piazza is full of people hearing S.Bernandino’s preaching. The night before the 20th of May, all the street signs inside the medieval city are being vandalized. Semantic guerilla -they called it. A time-specific art project that gives a glance of the city’s social life about 600 ago.
The street signs are chosen as the medium, being a given code of communication, authoritative and easy-to-read. A contemporary medium that -now- speaks the (past) words of the saint, giving orders to the citizens about how to act on the public sphere. A new layer of information is being added to the city, critically fabricating a dystopic reality.
Intro Unit “Walk of Destiny” Project:
“Every time I go back to the past to examine the witch-hunt of the 16th -17th century, my study is interrupted by the urgent need to understand the causes of the new outbreak of violence toward women that we experience today.”
Piazza del Campo· the main public square for people’s gatherings.
no cats spotted
It being the starting point, the city invites you for a stroll.
Narrow alleys, medieval fortress-like buildings, arched passages
and unexpected dead-ends.
no cats spotted
The city tells you its story, trying to hide the dark parts.
no witches mentioned
Your walk gets you to the edge of the city.
A downhill road leads to an old gate.
a cat is licking her wound
Porta Giustizia· closed to the public,
used almost exclusively for the passage of prisoners.
What is perceived as dangerous must not infect the rest of the population.
some faggots are leaning towards the wall
Many women accused and tried for witchcraft were old and poor. Often they depended on public charity for their survival. Witchcraft -we are told- is the weapon of the powerless. But old women were also those in the community most likely to resist the destruction of communal relations caused by the spread of capitalist relations. They were the ones who embodied the community’s knowledge and memory. The witch-hunt turned the image of the old woman upside down: traditionally considered a wise woman, she became a symbol of sterility and hostility to life. […]
The witch-hunt did not result in new sexual capacities or sublimated pleasures for women. Instead, it was the first step in the long march towards “clean sex between clean sheets” and the transformation of female sexual activity into work, a service to men, and procreation. Central to this process was the banning, as anti-social and virtually demonic, of all non-productive, non-procreative forms of (female) sexuality. […]
The witch trials provide an instructive list of the forms of sexuality that were banned as “non-productive”: homosexuality, sex between young and old, sex between people of different classes, anal coitus, nudity and dances. Also proscribed was the public, collective sexuality that had prevailed in the Middle Ages, as in Spring festivals of pagan origins that, in the 16th century were still celebrated all over Europe. […]
The role that the witch-hunt has played in the development of the bourgeois world, and specifically in the development of the capitalist discipline of sexuality, has been erased from our memory. Yet, we can track back to this process some of the main taboos of our time. This is the case with homosexuality, which in several parts of Europe was still fully accepted during the Renaissance, but was weeded out in the course of the witch-hunt. So fierce was the persecution of homosexuals that its memory is still sedimented in our language. “Faggot” reminds us that homosexuals were at times the kindling for the stakes upon which witches were burned, while the Italian “finocchio”(fennel) refers to the practice of scattering these aromatic vegetables on the stakes in order to mask the stench of burning flesh.
Response to Rebecca Solnit “The Shape of a Walk”:
“It seems as though these artists were remaking the world, act by act,
object by object. […] One such gesture is walking.”
Walking around at a city gives you the opportunity to observe its details.
A city’s structure, the urban tissue, its public spaces,
the shapes and sizes of the buildings can give you
a solid idea of how its social life may be.
Walking around a medieval city like Siena
-once you figure out how to escape the contemporary invaders-
could be the closest possible look at that era’s reality,
which now is considered history.
But reality/history should not be constructed only based on thing that are there, but also on thing that are not.
By stressing out those missing parts and reenacting them,
art can build new realities.
The artwork as an outcome of walking, a representation of a walk,
an invitation for a stroll.
It gives the opportunity to the audience to perceive this new reality
and even build their owns.
Are these new realities things of the past or the present?
Have we -at last- been able to wake up from this nightmare called history?
And if yes, at which cost?