“APTITUDEforthearts is a new art project in the territory entirely dedicated to women’s artistic research.”
Aptitudeforthearts is a new art project in the territory entirely dedicated to women’s artistic research. The project, independent and non-profit, is born from a reflection on “taking care of” understood as an attitude and a sensitivity, innate or acquired, rooted in the universe of women.
The initiative intends in this perspective to invite artists of different generations to look at the landscape – and the peculiar agricultural context of Vercelli – as something and someone from whom to draw inspiration for their creative journey and take care of, addressing this context a series of gestures and new and rejuvenating looks.
The aim of the project is, on the one hand, to offer, in a context as peculiar as that linked to the rice industry, an opportunity for contemporary artistic production and, on the other hand, to enhance the important, even if still little known, artistic heritage-architectural territory through the recovery of historic spaces being restored, abandoned, waiting for care and that can be temporarily regenerated by the presence of a different look. The project every year invites an artist to design and/ or develop his research in progress (which is linked to the themes and nature of the territory) and to install her work in one or more selected places in the Vercelli area – in collaboration with local institutions.
APTITUDEforthearts aims to look at artists who, through their research, have undertaken inter-disciplinary and innovative paths, linked for example to the themes of work and its new paths related to the development of technologies, written literature, sound and visual that told it, nature, play, research on textiles and materials, objects related to agricultural culture, education, music, up to the ability to address issues of diversity and dedication to the project as an instrument of emancipation, identity, freedom.
The first edition will take place in the lowlands of Trino Vercellese in Piedmont. Its rice paddies are the natural landscape whose shape has been changed, over the decades, by the toil of women. The effort of their meticulous labour has defined the history and the traditions of these lowlands. And here we will pay homage to them thanks to an contemporary art installation.
Born in Lecco in 1991, lives and works between Milan and New York. She received her BA in Painting from Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan where in 2014 she co-founded the artist-run space Armada.
Her practice is informed by the interest in the “skin” of objects and in the different modes of perception and understanding of the work. Through the use of Jacquard-weaved textiles, the artist investigates the role and the meaning of texture. By creating microscopic reliefs of different scales and dimensions, namely woven drawings, her intent is to access a space simultaneously with a painting and a sculpture while tearing them both from their immobility.
Textile is also employed in the realization of ceramic, bronze and cast-iron sculptures. These works are the results of an experimental process where the fabric gets sacrificed, mainly through combustion, in favor of another material. The loss emerges in new mutated forms where the echo of a body exists with its limits and possibilities for transformation.
Casting the Tempo
The intervention foresees the presentation to the public of the first act with a musical composition, expressly realized for space and inspired by the history of the ecclesiastical complex. In fact, the composition takes its cue from the Church, or rather from the painted organ – which, according to the sources, never existed – that can be seen both crossing the threshold of the main door and from the windows of the bell tower open towards the inside. This imaginary, immaterial object, only represented, is however a solid, tangible presence that the visitor “feels” echoing in the space in a powerful way. The painted organ is a visual presence full of expectation and powerfully evokes the fervent musical activity of the church, which also enjoys excellent acoustics. Thanks to the collaboration with the Antica Fabbrica Passamanerie Massia of Turin and the Tenuta Margherita di Desana farm, the artist has succeeded in elaborating a musical composition that starts from the recording of the “music” produced by the famous looms and machines for processing rice of the respective farms. These sounds, testimony of secular work, will be translated into a composition for organ diffused inside the space.
The sound will be conveyed through a series of speakers placed inside the perimeter of the nave of the Church and turned in such a way as to convey the sound from the inside towards the churchyard and the immediate surroundings of the Church.
In this way, the music will be diffused in a calm and respectful way of the context, with low tones that will echo the songs of the rice fields and in this sense will be able to attract the attention of the public towards the heart of the Church, still inaccessible because it is undergoing restoration and consolidation works.
The public, compatibly with the agreements made with the institutions involved, will be able to approach from the churchyard to the entrance of the Church to fully enjoy the musical composition.
The sound will be accompanied by some clothes for the Bell Tower, that is to say, fabric banners specially made by the artist and placed along the path that leads from earth to sky. The path thus continues with a second act, dedicated to the intervention on the bell tower.
The artist intends to accompany the ascent to the top of the tower through sculptural elements, also made of fabric, placed at prominent points of the central staircase. The bell tower is a lighthouse: as one leaves the ground even the concentration of the material is diluted until it reaches the masthead and sees the horizon clearly. Here at the top, you will find sound again, the same composition for organ played by the frame, to reiterate the relationship between the parts and the relationship between fabric and sound, between nature and work.
“I would like fabric and sound to echo each other. In the sculptural dimension as well as in the chromatic one. The soundtrack for the organ is based on a range of sounds related to industrial production (textiles and rice). With this, I would like to study the current relationship between man and machine, between landscape and production.”
On the other hand, the geometric motif drawn on the fabric is the landscape, that is to say, the whole natural context surrounding the Abbey. In this way, Margherita Raso aims to bring the outside – that is, the landscape of the rice field – inside the space, trying to encourage the visitor to never forget the passing of time, the changing landscape, and the rhythm of the seasons that mark the relationship between man and nature.
If on the one hand, the fabric is a metaphor of the outside, of the context, of the world that surrounds us, the sound is, in turn, a metaphor of the inside, of interiority, that is to say of the more spiritual, meditative and introspective aspects linked to a work made of gestures that are repeated – almost automatic and mechanical -, of confidences and songs that accompany them. In this sense, the rice field is in turn a landscape of work in which other contemporary places of production are reflected, destined to broaden the reflection on work today.
In a particular way, all the graphics recorded on the fabrics are the result of a photographic reconnaissance operation of the rice fields. Starting from these maps created through the use of a drone, Margherita Raso has in fact worked by subtraction, exactly as if the photograph were a block of marble to be sculpted.
The image was grainy and analyzed in detail to develop a reasoning on light and color. At the same time, an important source of inspiration and methodology was Angelo Morbelli’s famous painting Per ottanta centesimi! preserved in the Borgogna Museum in Vercelli.
“Morbelli’s work,” says the artist, “interests me for its constant attention to contemporary society, as a testimony to the intense relationship of dependence between body and landscape, between body and work. In Per ottanta centesimi! (For Eighty Cents!) the artist chose a wide shot, with a very high horizon that cancels out the sky, exalting to the utmost the depth of the space of the rice field. In this sense, I find interest in the “perspective relativism with which reality was observed”, as we read in the book La narrativa degli scapigliati by Giovanna Rosa. Moreover, For Eighty Cents! – one of the most significant examples of the application of Divisionist technique in Italy – interests me as a tool for studying light and color in the creation of textile works.”
writing about us
Lucedio Abbey as the ideal place to begin a process of cultural enhancement and innovation in the Vercelli area.
The architectural complex created by the Cistercian monks around 1123, located a few kilometers from the center of Vercelli in the municipality of Trino, is in fact not only a significant architectural testimony and a true heritage of the territory not yet adequately known, but also a model of sustainable economy and in fact a place where everything originates: from the culture and cultivation of rice to the rural and patrician community that developed it up to the entire imaginary produced by the relationship between nature, art and architecture within a sacred and symbolic dimension that makes this place unique in its kind.
The exhibition “Casting the time” by Margherita Raso will be open to the public from Sunday September 12 from 13.30 to 17.00 and from September 19 from 14.00 to 17.00.
PhD, she is an art historian and combines research activities with editorial and curatorial practice.
She is the head of Publications and Educational Department at Palazzo Grassi – Pinault Collection in Venice, since 2010 she has been a professor of contemporary art history at the Bocconi University in Milan and director of the classroom art and education center (www.theclassroom.it).
Member of the scientific committee of the Carriero Foundation, she lives in Milan with her family.