Hold 2005

Multimedia installation by Russell Mills and Petulia Mattioli
Palazzo delle Papesse Centre for Contemporary Art, Siena, Italy

38 mixed media ‘thought engines’, 2 DVD films, 2 DVD projectors, stones, quartz sand, mirror, lighting, 2 CD players, 6 speakers

Soundwork by Eraldo Bernocchi, Russell Mills and Michael Fearon with contributions from Harold Budd, Bill Laswell and Gigi
Mixed and produced by Eraldo Bernocchi at Verba Corrige Production, Castagneto Carducci, Italy
Additional production by Russell Mills and Mike Fearon at Shed Studio, Ambleside, Cumbria

The “object poems” or “thought engines” that I’m proposing to make will be like visual “figures of speech”, not the common simile or metaphor (the substitution of like for like) but more like metonymy (substitution of an attribute for a holder. e.g. a crown for a king). Some will act as a synecdoche (part for whole), for instance an egg shell can refer to or stand for an egg, or for food, or for good living, or for new life and innocence. Some of the relationships suggested in the juxtapositions of the chosen objects will be provocative and nuanced while others may only make sense by demonstrating a kind of collective futility in the face of contemporary media bombardment. Some will elicit ideas of cultural evolution, others may suggest more socio-political metaphors of hope. I hope that these proposed assembled objects will create a sense of both unease and strange familiarity. I want them to walk a fine balance between representation (and illusion) and the material’s need to to conform to a certain use so as to become, to use Harold Rosenberg’s term, “anxious objects”. Most need to be old, everyday objects that have been used. They must be familiar and understandable, stained with a patina of time and traces of use, thereby suggesting possible histories. And yet when eased into improbable, enigmatic alliances with other objects, they will become new, suggesting possible futures. Through ambiguity, each juxtaposition would make precise and easy interpretation impossible. Meaning would slide backwards and forwards between the collective (of the assemblage) and the individual (of the meanings and history inherent in the parts) in a manner that is by nature both unstable and subversive. Some will generally be concerned with ideas of preciousness (not necessarily of rare “things”), essentials, fundamental choices and preferences, etc., set against objects that are non-essential. Talismanic, they would act as reminders of certain values, beliefs and hopes that we all share or need to prioritise more than we do. Above all their purpose is to be signifiers of potential, of what might be rather than what is or what has been. They are enabling and transformative.

The “object poems” or “thought engines” which I’m either working on or which I hope to produce are listed below. They are not in any order of priority and this is not a complete list as new ideas and juxtapositions are suggesting themselves daily. Conversely some may not be possible if I cannot find and acquire specific objects or if I cannot afford to purchase the necessary materials or services.

1) A life size head of rust dust. Possibly with a “Spirit Level”. I’m still trying to formulate, to work out exactly what this is about at present. It represents so many ideas for me about natural flux, about the need for balance and parameters in our lives. It’s also about the primacy of process and how materials are signifiers, carriers of ideas and metaphors to replace linearity or representation. As Robert Doisneau said ” To suggest is sublime, to describe destroy”.

2) Two silver goblets, one half full of honey and a second half full of ashes. The first represents birth and promise, the second suggests death and ending. The journey between the two is short. It is very minimal Beckett-like idea. Also with the goblets being half full they are also half empty and as such they allude to the test to discover if one is a pessimist or an optimist – another Beckett-like dilemma.

3) An old, rural egg carrier with 41 holes for eggs, holding only 40 eggs over which will be suspended a series of “Dobby Stones” – stones with naturally formed holes in them. These stones are local to Cumbria where I live, and are believed to “ward off the evil eye” i.e. protect against misfortune. They are good luck charms, which are usually hung over cattle stalls or the doorways of people’s houses. The egg is the true virgin, an innocent and real, a symbol of new life and new beginnings. Whereas the “Dobby Stone” is symbolic of old superstitions, of foolish, illogical and unfounded myths which tend to confound and stop progress. Perhaps we can purchase the eggs in Siena?

4) Four or six “Incubator” assemblage boxes, each containing a bird’s nest. Each nest will cradle, protect and nurture an object of potential. I have finished three of these so far with titles – “Pivot”, “Cardinal” and “Loop”. I’m currently making two others at present, one of which will contain either a piece of quartz crystal or mica, which is symbolic of frozen sperm, which in its turn suggest new life and potential. The second one is not resolved yet.

5) Thirty-six X-Rays of human skulls, all different, all unique. I envisage these being displayed in the inner vault of the Caveau, in all the cages that are at about head height. They will need some form of simple lighting behind them so as to illuminate them, perhaps a suspended fluorescent strip light in each cage? They will also need some form of black card or wooden mounts to be made on site, to frame each X-Ray and to fill each cage so that there is no light spill. Can these be made in Siena?

6) A specially made wooden attaché case carrying a display of “The Dust of Men’s Tears”. I can explain the thoughts behind this piece later if need be.

7) A series of small black square boxes each containing compressed materials such as coal dust, volcanic stone, roots, etc. These are materials that are usually hidden, unseen, and yet they effect us everyday – they serve to illustrate both the primacy of process frozen in time and the potential power and energy of compression whether it be of materials or ideas or words. For example, good poets have this ability to convey ideas of jaw-dropping insight and beauty in a few lines of crafted compression.

8) A “cave drawing” in sanguine of a common garden shed inside a split stone. Here in the UK the shed is a common site, usually made of scraps of wood and old doors, an assemblage. A place of refuge, it is also symbolic of independence and innovation, a place where individuals explore and develop unique ideas, a laboratory of the possible. There are many other meanings that I recognise a shed having, which I can supply you with later. For me the shed is a very potent metaphor for all that I do and believe in. I think that these two small pieces may be best displayed on a simple, single block of wood. If this is OK with you I’ll send the ideal dimensions nearer the time. Rather than having me carry it over or to have it shipped to Siena it would be easier and more economical if this were made on site in Siena.

9) A book titled “XXXXXXXXXXX” sealed in salt, on a bed of gold leaf with a sheet of glass holding it down. Salt destroys all but gold and glass. Salt, like time itself, is a preservative and a destroyer. This also refers to Italo Calvino’s writings and in particular a book called “Six Memos for the Next Millennium” which contains a short essay called “Exactitude” in which he discusses beautifully, the similarities and differences between a crystal and a flame. This is a really inspiring, erudite book that is alive with stimulating suggestivity. I can forward the text if necessary.

10) A small ceramic bowl containing a stone rounded by the currents in a river, which is attached to a copper wire suspended from and attached to a small motor turning at 1 revolution per minute. The stone sculpts the bowl whilst at the same time the bowl shapes the stone. The stone symbolises nature, what is given, and the certainty of mathematics and natural laws. The bowl represents what we make of that nature. The two objects working reciprocally together allude to the (uneasy) symbiosis we have with nature, that produces culture and cultural evolution. This piece has been inspired by my readings of William Wordsworth and serves to illustrate the imperative that runs through all of his work, which is that art should disclose in the workings of the universe analogues for the human mind and soul.

11) An old Kodak bellows camera flanked on one side by a suspended red rose (right way up), and on the other, similarly suspended, a seemingly fresh rose – in fact an artificial silk rose complete with fake dew drops. Over time the real rose will die whilst the second rose will apparently defy death and stay fresh. This is about photography’s peculiar ability to capture a moment in time, to freeze the instant and convey only a version of the truth. It is also about our perception, and our readings of such images.

12) An old shovel head with gold leaf swirls along its cutting edge and a suggestion of a starry sky. This refers, obliquely, to Galileo’s discovery of sunspots and it also suggests a conjoined paradox in that this is a tool made by man for working on and with the land and yet it also carries a message about the infinite, the heavens. It also suggests aspiration and ideas about enabling and transformation.

13) A small black wooden crucifix and egg hanging in space by a discreet thread. Another piece that refers to Galileo’s discoveries and the conflict they caused with the Catholic Church. It also refers to the differences between religious belief systems and natural phenomena, about the invented myth and the given fact, the analytical and the actual. The title for this will be crucially as important as the piece itself. Needless to say I still haven’t decided on the title – it must be just right.

14) A large Victorian family Bible riddled with holes made by bookworms, which will hopefully resemble constellations of stars. Again this eludes to Galileo’s achievements and the fear that they instilled in the Catholic Church as well as the ongoing debate between dogma and fact. This may be displayed with one other object or material such as sawdust, a by-product of an action to demonstrate cause and effect … not sure yet.

15) A pair of white Crow’s wings hung discreetly by threads in a cage. This is an alchemical allusion to aspiring to the ultimate goal, the philosopher’s stone or gold, which is of course impossible.

16) Three school inkpots found in a dig in the garden of the home I had in London. I converted an old Victorian school in Vauxhall, which had started life as an Art School. The inkpots had obviously come from the Victorian school. One is completely embedded in earth and stones, another is also embedded in earth and stone with roots emerging from its base and a third is also embedded in earth and stone with roots emerging from its base and will have tendrils of copper wires shooting from its top spout. (Copper is a conductor of energy). These serve to demonstrate an idea of progressive cultural evolution and again refer to Wordsworth’s work and his ideas that put nature at the centre of all we do.

17) A glass bell-jar containing either deer fur, cottonweed heads, leaf skeletons, or “Angel Hair” (a synthetic material used to drape over Christmas trees and lights to make them shimmer.) I want this to be an object that displays something that is ethereal and hard to grasp or focus on. Wild Deer are notoriously shy and nervous and as such are difficult to get near to. What the material is will be difficult to recognise or identify.

18) Kurt Schwitters’s scissors plus one other object. I’m not sure what this complementary object might be just yet. I want to make a link between his pioneering work using the collage principle in a wide range of disciplines including abstract picture making, sound experiments, phonetic poetry, installations, graphic design, sculpture, set design, etc., to the multimedia world that we now live in and which we take for granted. This will be a gentle but heartfelt homage to a man whose life and work have been a constant source of inspiration to me and whose influence on the arts and the media, I feel, has been totally overlooked.

19) A rope of sand to hang from a thread in one cage. Queen Elizabeth I of England, when discussing religions once said that ” … all religions, (except her faith) were but ropes of sand” – therefore useless.

20) A pile of about five or six old books each wrapped in waterproof brown paper and tied together with string plus one other, at present unknown, object. As with some of the other proposed objects and juxtapositions, I haven’t figured out what this about yet … hopefully it will come. I t feels like the weakest idea so far and my well be abandoned. If it does develop and take on a body then perhaps the books, which would be preferably old, large academic tomes, and the old-fashioned water proof paper, can be bought in Siena?

21) A series of small assemblage boxes which I’m working on. Each will relate to and celebrate the small, unseen, quiet explosions of energy in natural phenomenon, what I call “little forevers” – as opposed to what I call the “big nows” of most of the contemporary media landscape. These are meditative, contemplative and curatorial works. Titles for these so far are:- “Little Niagaras”, “Fall To Rise”, Perfume, “Air (Community)”, “What If? (Hum Box)” and “Velocity or Pause?”

22) A fish skeleton covered in blue-ish crystals. With another unknown object. This refers to the fact that in olden times before man had devices to enable them to detect poisonous gases underground, miner’s would take dead fish down into the mines. If a poisonous gas was present the fish would glow. This is just such a beautiful “enabling” idea. It also relates to the fact that the Caveau is underground, a place of secrets and the unknown of the unconscious.

23) A clock marked with thirteen hours. This is called the “Geek” clock. “Geek” is an American slang word given to people who were employed in fairgrounds and freak shows to perform the most ugly, disgusting and depraved acts in order to earn their keep, such as bite the heads off of live chickens. The thirteen hours on the clock face refers to the insanity of this behaviour and the questionable attitude of both the fairground owners who instigated and insisted on such acts and the strange mentality of those who paid money to see such acts. The “Geek” clock can also stand as a critical comment against the current “Geek” culture of society today, with its cult of celebrity in which the mundane, the dubious, the inane, even the criminal or the deliberately provocative are elevated to global status. It also refers to a society, which celebrates and encourages short term thinking, a society which I feel is moving to fast without enough thought being given to what is being lost or the subsequent consequences of this headlong rush.

24) A “random radio” that I’m devising. It’s an old, 1940’s valve radio that has a slow moving motor (1 revolution per minute) attached to the station tuning dial. Manual tuning of the radio signal is impossible as it is ceaselessly searching for a static station signal. This produces an endlessly changing sound collage of the everyday – a listener will never hear the same sound twice. A generative sound collage, it alludes to numerous ideas about the shifting nature of European history, of geography and borders, boundaries and those in between areas known as “no-man’s land”, languages, cultural similarities and differences, and the current question of asylum seekers.

25) A hand made fictional globe of the world. This will be about twenty inches in diameter and be constructed of rope, plaster, earth, sand, ash and computer resistors. It will be bound in a multitude of coloured sewing threads. It may be attached to one plate of a domestic weighing scale, On the other plate, the plate usually used for placing the weights on, may be a “Spirit Level” artificially weighted down so as to outweigh the world, metaphorically and physically. Ideally the globe should be illuminated from within so as to send beams of light through the gaps in the threads and ropes, creating a dappled light all around.

26) The bones of a horse’s spine, preferably in one continuous piece.

27) Glass aquarium full of blown light bulbs.

28) Another glass aquarium full of water and a block of stone-like material with a crack in. From the crack air bubbles escape. This will also need a small aquarium air pump.

I also like the idea of having a number of empty or apparently empty cages/shelves. Some could be minimally occupied, say with an evaporating pool of salt crystals, or a puddle of water or a sprinkling of earth. Others may have dust or tiny remnants ribbon or fragments of cloth. These would be like forensic details found at a scene or they may simply suggest an absence, a trace, a clue as to what might have been.

:- some leporello (concertina folding) hand made books concerning the ethereal and the enduring; one demonstrating the process of rusting (man-made materials being gently subsumed and transformed by a natural chemical process) and another showing abstracted cloud drawings using a Victorian art which uses of candle smoke; both are ethereal forms and both express the fragility and unpredictability of our contemporary condition. One never sees the same cloud twice and yet the smoke drawings are fixed. Other ideas for “mind bombs” for this contemporary Kunstkamera, (or is it Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer?) are massing on a daily basis! Editing will be the key to how effective these individual objects correspond to one another. The actual display of these objects will also be of critical importance if their effect, individually and collectively, is to be conceptually and contextually strong and visually seductive.

Alongside and to complement these, Petulia is conceiving of ways of using films of people appearing and disappearing, like ghosts of past, present and possible futures. These would suggest both the permanence of our presence and the transitoriness of life itself; the polarities of the enduring and the ethereal would be pulled like magnets. The films would display and suggest truly human emotions and qualities which we hope will create both a bond and an uneasy alliance with the series of objects within the cages of the vault. I know she has many ideas as to how these will be made, how they will look and how they will be projected. Also I know that she has many ideas that are informing their creation, but I cannot speak for her or attempt to outline her ideas in precise detail. I think that this is for her to do far more eloquently in her own language and her own words.

As for a title, Petulia and I have decided on using the word “Hold”.
This word has been continually suggesting itself to me as a word that encapsulates the ideas at work on all levels, and as such might make a good, bold, enigmatic yet multi-layered title for the installation. In English it has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. It is duplicitous too; it can imply a power that is compassionate or which is sinister or destructive. For me, as a word on its own, it is a simple, strong word which demands attention and yet is disquieting. It suggests ownership and possession, a vault, jail or bank vault or a safe whilst also alluding to safety and strength, certainty and also to love and one’s need to be loved and belong within a social group. Below are the main dictionary definitions which are complex I’m afraid, even for me! But hopefully you’ll read some parts that may let you understand what I mean.

hold1: keep fast, grasp; keep thing in a particular position (hold it in the light); hold a thing over a person, threaten him constantly with it; grasp so as to control (hold the reins); keep (oneself, one’s head) in particular attitude or condition. 2: (Of vessel etc.) contain or be able to do so (jug holds two pints); not to be unduly intoxicated by (liquor etc.) 3: possess, be the owner or holder or tenant of, (property, stocks, land or absolution: holds from the king); have (specified playing card or cards) in one’s hands; have gained (holds a law degree, the long-jump record); (Military) keep possession of (place etc.) against attack; occupy (place, person’s thoughts, etc.); engross (person’s attention); dominate (holds the stage). 4: keep (person etc.) in specified place, condition, etc., (hold him at bay, prisoner, in suspense); detain in custody; make (person) adhere to (terms, promise; hold to bail – bind by bail; (Sport) restrict (opponents) to (draw etc.) 5: observe, celebrate, conduct, (festival, meeting, conversation): use (insolent etc.) language. 6: restrain (hold your fire, noise, tongue); withhold, cease. hold everything!, cease action or movement); hold your horse !; there is no holding him etc., he etc., is restive or in high spirits or determined. 7: think, believe, (thing, opinion, that, person etc., to be. hold it against a person, regard it as to his discredit that; hold it good, think it advisable to do); (of judge or court) lay down, decide, (that); have specified feeling towards (hold him in high esteem, contempt); hold a thing as cheap, not value it; hold dear, regard, with affection. 8: remain unbroken, not give way; (of weather), continue fine; hold by, to, adhere to (choice, purpose, etc.); hold with, approve of. 9: hold good, true, (of law etc.) be valid, apply. 10: keep going (hold on one’s way). 11: restrain oneself; hold hard!, stop, wait. 12: hold the baby, hold one’s breath, hold the clock, hold on, hold the court, hold the fort, hold one’s ground, hold one’s or person’s hand; hold one’s head high, behave proudly and confidently; hold the line, not yield, maintain telephone connection; hold one’s nose; hold to ransom; hold water, be sound, bear examination. 13: hold aloof, avoid communication with persons etc.; hold back, restrain, impede progress of, keep (thing) to or for oneself, hesitate, refrain from; hold back, hindrance; hold down, repress, to be competent enough to keep one’s job; hold forth, offer (inducement etc.), speak at length or publicly; hold harmless; hold in, confine, keep in check; hold off, delay, keep one’s distance, not begin action; hold on, keep one’s grasp on something, not ring off, stop or wait; hold out, stretch forth (hand etc.), offer (inducement etc.), maintain resistance, persist or last, continue to make demand for; hold out on, refuse something to (person); hold over, postpone, relic; hold together, (cause to) cohere; hold up, support, sustain, maintain (head etc.) erect, (hold up one’s head, not be downcast), exhibit, display (especially hold to derision etc.), arrest progress of, obstruct, (stop and ) rob by (threat of) violence; hold up, robbery of this kind, stoppage or delay by traffic, fog, etc. 14: hold all, portable case for miscellaneous articles; hold fast, firm grasp, staple or clamp securing object to wall etc., attachment-organ of alga.
hold), grasp (catch, get, grab, keep, take, lay hold of, hold of); manner of holding in wrestling etc.; opportunity of holding, thing to hold by; hold (on, over, influence (over); (architecturally) fortress; get hold of, acquire, make contact with (person); with no holds barred, all methods being permitted; take hold, become established.
hold, cavity in ship below deck, where cargo is stowed.
[from obsolete holl from Old English hol from adjectival = Old Saxon, Old High German hol, Old Norse holr hollow from Germanic hulaz from Indo-European kel cover]

Also in slang there are other meanings for “hold”:- such as, retention in jail or vault; to have drugs for sale; hold down, extract a living by theft or begging; to hold one’s guts means to keep silent; hold-out, a device for hiding playing cards up a sleeve or in a vest; hold out, retain more than one’s share of the proceeds of a theft or robbery; hold-over, local jail; hold still, won’t be fooled; hold the bag, to be fooled; hold-up, one who robs by “holding-up” a person or a train, etc.; hold fast, property, pledge; holding heavy, having plenty of money; holding the lady down, holding her down, riding on a train, underneath to avoid paying for ticket; etc. The phrase “hold dear” above, when used in ordinary conversation also means considering someone or something as being extremely precious, more important than anyone or anything else.

Russell Mills
“Thought engines” for the installation Hold for the Caveau, Palazzo delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena.

The “object poems” or “thought engines” will be like “figures of speech”, not the common simile or metaphor (the substitution of like for like) but more like metonymy (substitution of an attribute for a holder. e.g. a crown for a king). Some will act as a synecdoche (part for whole) for instance an egg shell can refer to or stand for an egg, or for food, or for good living, or for new life and innocence. Some of the relationships suggested in the juxtapositions of the chosen objects will be provocative and nuanced while others may only make sense by demonstrating a kind of collective futility in the face of contemporary media bombardment. Some will elicit ideas of cultural evolution, others may suggest more socio-political metaphors of hope. I hope that these proposed assembled objects will create a sense of both unease and strange familiarity. I want them to walk a fine balance between representation (and illusion) and the material’s need to conform to a certain use so as to become, to use Harold Rosenberg’s term, “anxious objects”. Most need to be old, everyday objects that have been used. They must be familiar and understandable, stained with a patina of time and traces of use, thereby suggesting possible histories. And yet when eased into improbable, enigmatic alliances with other objects, they will become new, suggesting possible futures. Through ambiguity, each juxtaposition would make precise and easy interpretation impossible. Meaning would slide backwards and forwards between the collective (of the assemblage) and the individual (of the meanings and history inherent in the parts) in a manner that is by nature both unstable and subversive. Some will generally be concerned with ideas of preciousness (not necessarily of rare “things”), essentials, fundamental choices and preferences, etc., set against objects that are non-essential. Talismanic, they would act as reminders of certain values, beliefs and hopes that we all share or need to prioritise more than we do. Above all their purpose is to be signifiers of potential, of what might be rather than what is or what has been. They are enabling and transformative.

1) Is
Hat mannequin clad in rust dust.
(The head is the seat of consciousness, the rust dust an example of an almost imperceptible natural chemical process, which informs that consciousness. The work attempts to link the work of the earth, the physical intervention of the artist and the impact of time. It’s also about the primacy of process and how materials are also metaphoric signifiers, carriers of ideas to replace linearity or representation. )

2) Nothing is Unstable
Two silver goblets, ash and honey.
(One goblet is bright and half full of honey and a second is tarnished and half full of ashes. The first represents new beginnings birth and promise; the second suggests death and ending. The journey between the two is short. It is very minimal Beckett-like idea. Also with the goblets being half full they are also half-empty and as such they allude to the test to discover if one is a pessimist or an optimist – another Beckettian dilemma.)

3) Doppler
Rural egg carrier, 40 eggs, “Dobby” stones (Thunderstones), string.
(An old, rural egg carrier with 41 holes for eggs, holding only 40 eggs, over which are suspended a series of “Dobby Stones” – stones with naturally formed holes in them, these are also known as “Thunderstones” in some parts of the country. Local to Cumbria where I live, they are believed to “ward off the evil eye” i.e. protects against misfortune. As good luck charms, they are usually hung over cattle stalls or the doorways of people’s houses. The egg is the true virgin, an innocent and real, a symbol of new life and new beginnings. Whereas the “Dobby Stone” is symbolic of old superstitions, of foolish, illogical and unfounded myths which tend to confound and stop progress.)

Incubator Series
6 assemblage boxes, each containing a bird’s nest. Each nest cradles, protects and nurtures an object of potential, of latent energy.

4) Incubator #1: Loop
Dynamo, bird’s nest, plaster, ash, acrylics, varnish in wooden box.
(Dynamo is a container of and source of energy.)

5) Incubator #2: Cardinal
Honeycomb, bird’s nest, plaster, ash, acrylics, varnish in wooden box.
(Honey represents immortality, initiation and rebirth. Honey was supposed to impart virility, fertility and vigour and have an aphrodisiac quality. The imagined parthenogenic origin of bees made honey an uncontaminated sacred food. Bees filled the mouths of Homer, Sappho, Pindar and Plato with honey. The honeycomb is symbolic of a perfect societal model, a community that is driven by energy in the production of energy for the good of all.)

6) Incubator #3: Pivot
Rose petals, bird’s nest, plaster, ash, acrylics, varnish in wooden box.
(A highly complex symbol; it is ambivalent as both heavenly perfection and earthly passion; the flower is both Time and Eternity, life and death, fertility and virginity. The rose is perfection; completion; the mystery of life, the heart-centre of life; the unknown; beauty; grace; happiness, but also voluptuousness; the passions and is also associated with wine, sensuality and seduction. It typifies silence and secrecy, sub rosa, a rose being hung, or depicted in council chambers to symbolise secrecy and discretion. There are countless other references to the symbology of the rose, these are just a few …
I remember reading long ago of a Roman Emperor, whose name I cannot recall, who held a huge, lavish banquet in a chamber whose ceiling was festooned with rose petals. At a certain time during the proceedings the petals were released to fall down and over the guests, however their bulk and perfume caused the many of the guests to suffocate and die. In this instance the seemingly innocent, beautiful and fragile petals became a weapon, a powerful force, energy.)

7) Incubator #4: Battery
Teeth, bird’s nest, plaster, ash, acrylics, varnish in wooden box.
(Teeth are the most enduring part of our bodies and are one of the last parts of our bodies to decay after death. In some primitive initiation ceremonies a tooth was extracted and swallowed as a symbol of death and rebirth (Jason and the Argonauts). Teeth carry DNA information, which is a form of potential energy.)

8) Incubator #5: Fulcrum
Hair, bird’s nest, plaster, ash, acrylics, varnish in wooden box.
(Amongst many other interpretations hair symbolises the life force; energy; power of thought; higher powers and inspiration; strength (Samson); devotion; allegiance. Hair, like teeth, is one of the last parts of our bodies to decay after death. Similarly, hair carries DNA information, which is a form of potential energy.)

9) Incubator #6: Charge
Quartz cluster, bird’s nest, plaster, ash, acrylics, varnish in wooden box.
(Quartz is a form of energy in the form of condensed light; in some cultures it also represents sperm, the life force, frozen in a crystallised form.)

10) Head
Sanguine drawing on split Cumbrian stone.
(A “cave drawing” in sanguine of a common garden shed, inside a split stone. An invented archaeological find. Here in the UK, the shed is a common ready-made shelter, cheap and usually made of scraps of wood and old doors, an assemblage. A place of refuge and of dreams, it is also symbolic of independence and innovation, a place where individuals, usually of an obsessive nature, explore and develop unique ideas, a laboratory of the possible. For me the shed is a very potent metaphor for all that I do and believe in.)

11) Invisible Visible (Poetry)
Church offertory box and copper wire.
(Poetry makes the invisible visible. This juxtaposition is about shared experiences and insights, which the good creative, open mind can suggest and illuminate more clearly. It is also an homage to the transformative, morally and spiritually enabling capacity of the arts, to poetry in particular, and to creative open thinking in any walk of life. Good poets can create an image of enormity and emotional resonance in a few highly crafted lines of carefully chosen words. With the rare skill of compression and exactitude, a poet (or a musician, visual artist, writer, etc.) can suggest ideas and notions that have the ability to knock one sideways, thereby revealing new ways of looking at the world. The Church offertory box is a receptacle for collecting money donations, given freely to a commonly agreed cause; it is an object for sharing. The copper wires entering and leaving its thin opening are conductors of energy, offering and exchanging potential in a constant flow. )

12) Soul or Smoke?
Bird’s wings, spray paint, acrylics and emulsion.
(A collection of tarnished gold wings line the shelf whilst a pair of white wings is suspended above. This is an alchemical allusion to aspiring to the ultimate goal, the philosopher’s stone or gold, which is of course impossible. It also refers to the myth of Icarus.)

13) All the Lost Sounds
Headphones and “Angel’s Hair” (Christmas mist).
(A meditative piece, which partly dwells on the speculative “what if?” proposition. In this instance I was thinking about two unknowns scenarios, one which I would be curious to experience and another which I would dread. One involves the possibility of hearing the sound of natural processes in flux, such as clouds moving, unfolding and shifting almost imperceptibly. The other is the dreadful thought of all the everyday sounds of my past, sounds that remind me of places, people and events that have been eventful or life changing, but have disappeared or I can no longer can hear. Slow, old prop-driven cargo planes droning through the sky, steam trains and newspaper sellers barking the headlines on street corners. All these sounds have either already disappeared from our contemporary sonic landscapes, or are becoming rarer. Taking the scenario even further and I even imagine the awful possibility of the complete absence of sound.)

14) The Gradual Instant
CDs, rust dust, earth and sand.
(Before the car the horse was the most efficient mode of transportation; before the CD the cassette was King. With every new technological jump we are told with utmost certainty, that information and data will now be absolutely safe, that this radically improved item or that miraculously faster gizmo will last for thousands of years. Whilst some of these innovations and developments are welcome and truly revolutionary, I am slightly cynical and suspicious about our apparent willingness to embrace and glorify every new idea just because it is new. I suspect that new simply translates into novel. I suspect that what is being replaced has not yet fulfilled its potential. We are informed that landfill sites, nuclear power and nuclear waste processing plants are safe and will be for thousands of years. How can anyone be so sure? These CDs, which have been ravaged by being subjected to various processes, such as burial in earth rich in minerals, are now redundant. The absolute certainty of science is always in doubt. The perfection of these CDs has been questioned and proved inadequate and ill founded.)

15) The Dust of Men’s Tears
Hand made wooden attaché case holding a type case containing coal dust, rust dust, earth, sand, ash, poppy seeds, copper filings, iron filings, magnesium, iron sulphate, volcanic sand, gold leaf, mica, turmeric, salt, pollen, cyanide powder, snake skin, acrylics, oils and varnishes.
(This piece came out of a period of research towards an installation for North Tyneside on the North East Coast of England. This area of the UK has traditionally been shaped by its dependence on the sea and consequently has a fine and rich history of fishing and shipbuilding. This link with the sea produced a breed of hard men renowned for their physical prowess, typically macho and intensely proud. The language and dialect of the region, known as “Geordie”, is hard but warm, poetic but direct and has a rare lilting quality that has similarly been shaped by man’s interaction with the sea. However over the past twenty or thirty years the industries that were dependent on the sea have all but disappeared, to be replaced by white and blue collar occupations such as call centres, insurance companies, mail order phone centres. Distinctly indigenous culture has been replaced by the ubiquity of universal, bland commerce that apparently has no correspondence to the area. Paradoxically the region was chosen as the ideal location for such businesses because the Geordie dialect was considered by the majority of people in the UK to be the most welcoming and trustworthy. The Geordie character, which has been formed by man’s interaction with the sea, has now been hijacked to sell mobile phones, insurance policies and bogus holidays. I felt sad about this colonisation and its reverberations and began thinking about the possibility of these hard, proud men being reduced to menial desk bound jobs. Traditionally such men would not cry but I imagined them now doing so, crying for a past destroyed, a way of life lost to so-called progress. These samples of men’s tears are presented as dust, the effects of evaporation and symbolic of the fragility of traditional cultures. Tears are also symbolic of the incorruptible essence of life found through disintegration, decay and suffering. They preserve, conserve and are indestructible and their salts are the last residue of bodies.)

16) Seed To Star
Shovel head, cement, ash, acrylics, oils, emulsion, gold leaf and glitter.
(An old shovelhead painted to suggest a constellation of stars. This refers obliquely to Galileo’s radical discoveries and observations and it also suggests a conjoined paradox between the intimate and the infinite; this is a tool made by man for working on and with the land and yet it also carries a message about the heavens. Through contact with the earth and with matter it is tool of regeneration, an enabling and transformative object. The shovel or spade is a masculine symbol and is also representative of Saturn, St Christian and St Phocas.)

17) The Speech of Flint and Air
Violin case, ash, coal, acrylics, oils, gold leaf, glitter and three metal bee emblems.
(Another piece referring to Galileo’s life, work and the impact his findings have had on our understanding of the world. The violin case refers both to his father who was a musician and to Galileo himself, who played the Lute, particularly in his later years. The allusion to music also nods to the idea of the “music of the spheres”, the mathematics of musical intervals and to Walter Pater’s observation that “all the arts aspire to the condition of music”. Coal filling one half of the violin case is carbon, the oldest known and most ubiquitous substance in the universe, the body of stars and planets. Coal also symbolises the hidden, occult powers; burning coal symbolises the alchemical transformation of black into red. One half of the violin case is painted with ash, acrylics, etc., to resemble a night sky, an obvious reference to Galileo. Three scattered tiny metal bee emblems are embedded in this “sky”. These refer to the coat of arms of the family of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini who was elected Pope Urban VIII and who was responsible for Galileo’s subjection to the Inquisition. Galileo escaped the bee’s sting – just! The bee can also be read as symbolising industry, productivity and society.)

18) The Deep Uncertainty of Knowing
Victorian family Bible and razor blades.
(A large Victorian family Bible, its front and back covers embedded with razor blades, making it dangerous even impossible to handle or to open. Again this alludes, in part, to Galileo’s achievements and the fear that they instilled in the Catholic Church as well as the ongoing debate between dogma and fact. It is also an attack on all religious dogmas and fundamentalist thinking, which contrary to most of their doctrines, seems to only bring pain, destruction, greed and guilt.)

19) Eclipse
Wooden crucifix, coal dust and painted wooden egg.
(A small black wooden crucifix coated in coal dust – carbon, the material of the stars – and an egg replacing the cruciform Christ. This is another piece that refers to Galileo’s discoveries and the conflict they caused with the Catholic Church. It also refers to the differences between religious belief systems and natural phenomena, about the invented myth and the given fact, the analytical and the actual. The egg is the true virgin, an innocent, whereas religion has become increasingly corrupt and corrupting.)

20) Claiming the Heaventree
Rope and sand.
(Like the cord and all bonds, the rope both binds and limits yet provides the possibility of infinite extension and freedom; it can give access to heaven and is associated with rites of passage. Queen Elizabeth I of England, when discussing religions once said that ” … all religions, (except her faith) were but ropes of sand” – therefore useless. The word “Heaventree” is from James Joyce.)

21) Matrix
Three inkpots fused into earth, roots and copper wire.
(The symbology of earth is dense yet is generally understood; the universal genetrix, the Nourisher; the Nurse; as Earth Mother earth is the universal archetype of fecundity, inexhaustible creativity and sustenance. Earth and Heaven are matter and spirit. These three school inkpots, I found in a dig in the garden of the home I had in London. I converted an old Victorian school in Vauxhall, which had started life as an Art School. The inkpots had obviously come from the Victorian school. One is completely embedded in earth and stones, another is also embedded in earth and stones with roots emerging from its base and a third is also embedded in earth and stone with roots emerging from its base and will have tendrils of copper wires shooting from its top spout. (Copper is a conductor of energy). These serve to demonstrate an idea of progressive cultural evolution and again refer to Wordsworth’s work and his ideas that put nature at the centre of all we do.)

22) Festina Lente
Clock mechanism, photocopy and wood.
(A clock marked with thirteen hours. This is called the “Geek” clock. “Geek” is an American slang word given to people who were employed in fairgrounds and freak shows to perform the most ugly, disgusting and depraved acts in order to earn their keep, such as bite the heads off of live chickens. The thirteen hours on the clock face refers to the insanity of this behaviour and the questionable attitude of both the fairground owners who instigated and insisted on such acts and the strange mentality of those who paid money to see such acts. The “Geek” clock can also stand as a critical comment against the current “Geek” culture of society today, with its cult of celebrity in which the mundane, the dubious, the inane, even the criminal or the deliberately provocative are elevated to global status. It also refers to a society, which celebrates and encourages short-term thinking; a society that I feel is moving to fast without enough thought being given to what is being lost or the subsequent consequences of this headlong rush.)

23) Primum Mobile: This That There
Kurt Schwitters’ scissors and specially adapted “random radio”.
(Kurt Schwitters’ scissors alongside a specially adapted “random radio”. I want to make a link between his pioneering work using the collage principle in a wide range of disciplines including abstract picture making, sound experiments, phonetic poetry, installations, graphic design, sculpture, set design, etc., to the multimedia world that we now live in and which we take for granted. This will be a gentle but heartfelt homage to a man whose life and work have been a constant source of inspiration to me and whose influence on the arts and the media, I feel, has been totally overlooked and underrated. The “random radio” that I’ve devised. Is an old, 1940’s valve radio that has a slow moving motor (1 revolution per minute) attached to the station-tuning dial. Manual tuning of the radio signal has been made impossible, subsequently it ceaselessly searches for a static station signal, in vain. This produces an endlessly changing sound collage of the everyday, which the listener will never hear twice. A generative sound collage machine, it alludes to numerous ideas about Schwitters and his works, contemporary communications and also to the shifting nature of European history, of geography and borders, boundaries and those in between areas known as “no-man’s land”, languages, cultural similarities and differences, and the current question of contemporary nomads, asylum seekers.)

23) Shooting The Past
Rose and artificial rose with dewdrops.
(A pink rose is suspended (right way up) next to, a seemingly fresh pink rose similarly suspended upside down, – in fact an artificial silk rose complete with fake dew drops. Over time the real rose will die whilst the second rose will apparently defy death and stay fresh. This is partly about the fragility of life itself. It also is about the media’s peculiar ability to capture a moment in time, to freeze the instant and convey only a version of the truth. It is also about our perception, how we see and how we interpret photographs, frozen moments of truth or edited manipulated fictions.

24) Field Work
Carpenter’s smoothing plane, earth and printed texts on paper.
(This is a homage to poets and poetry, inspired by reading Seamus Heaney’s essays in “Finders Keepers” , and especially a piece called “The Government of the Tongue”. It also obliquely demonstrates the art of poetry, of digging for a subject and of shaping and crafting words that invoke a sense of wonder in a reader. The texts used in the piece are:-

…neither speaks nor remains silent, but gives signs + touch into meaning + after thought + what matters is not what’s measured + repetition is powerless before ecstasy + an approximation is all one needs of the real + signs of life are held in rock, the messages of the dead encoded in stone + words and numbers are all we have to describe the world + Roman amphitheatres during the Middle Ages were often used as barns and crops were planted in ancient arenas. Farmers were astonished by the prodigious growth – unaware that the earth had been steeped in blood + art, like poetry is imaginative truth, a means of creating unpredicted situations which could never, in actuality exist in the everyday. In a sense art consists of lies, but these are lies of value + the world will not perish for want of wonders, but for want of wonder + all loud is silence, all quiet noise, echoing absence + lichens and ice and salt crystals make more sand than ocean waves do +… this is the vowel of the earth / dreaming its root / in flowers and snow + Galileo eclipsed the heaventree + nothing is more real than nothing + … if I should remark that in the Pacific depths, bubbles trickle ominously through concrete boxes, what would you think? + the texture of space is a condition of time. Time is the warp and matter the weft of the woven texture of beauty in space, and death is the hurtling shuttle + nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope and the telescope + In Antarctica, in March, the sea ice begins growing at twenty-two miles a minute, the greatest seasonal event on earth + … it is a flow which has form, a form which flows … + Atomic tests in Nevada to test the effects of strontium on bones went under the codename of “operation Sunshine” with units of strontium labelled as “Sunshine Units” + the primacy of process + in the beginning was the gesture, not the word. The body moves before the tongue speaks + Blue Tear – the tear that cannot be held in, despite all efforts + poetry is what makes the invisible appear + the glare that explodes the lamp + ice permanent as iron, air that aches + biologists have found in the top inch of forest soil an average of 1,356 living creatures in each square foot, including 865 mites, 265 springtails, 22 millipedes, 19 adult beetles and various numbers of other forms of microscopic creatures, approximately 2 billion bacteria, millions of fungi, protozoa and algae; all in a mere teaspoonful of soil + time was a hook in his mouth + I’ll believe in religion when I hear an animal say the word God + Chinese House + knit with fog and juggle with soot + distance is internal + the mirror’s ghost, the world’s instant + in the reign of thoughts, imprudence is a method + the less we know, the more we name + if you stay still, earth buries you + …18 benedictions; that number, meaning “life” in Hebrew, corresponds to 18 vertebrae we bend when we pray + the Danube is guarded by a swarm of bees + Fire King + an optic lens was found in the rubble of Babylon + William II of England felt a cold wind pass through his side; the next day Tyrell’s arrow killed him + time was a hook in his mouth, reeling him in jaw-first + light bending + Q. Why is there something rather than nothing? A. Because nothing is unstable + the skin of an adult human covers a surface of 2,750 square inches; this is the largest organ of the body + the three Cs essential for a nation’s evolution:- curiosity, capitalism and conscience +

25) Divining Silence
Medal presentation box, ash and loudspeaker.
(This is a small, contemplative piece that suggests an idea of listening in to hidden internal secret sounds, our own emotional responses and the sounds of natural processes within the natural world. Ashes refer to the transitoriness of life; the perishable human body; mortality. In some rituals they have a purifying power.)

26) Revolution
Motor, stone, copper wire and ceramic bowl.
(A small ceramic bowl containing a stone rounded by the currents in a river, which is attached to a copper wire suspended from and attached to a small motor turning at 1 revolution per minute. The stone sculpts the bowl whilst at the same time the bowl shapes the stone. Here the stone symbolises nature, what is given, and the certainty of mathematics and natural laws. The bowl represents what we make of that nature i.e. culture. The two objects working reciprocally together allude to the (uneasy) symbiosis we have with nature, which produces culture and cultural evolution. This piece has been inspired by my readings of William Wordsworth and serves to illustrate the imperative that runs through all of his work, which is that art should disclose in the workings of the universe analogues for the human mind and soul.)

27) Without End (Towards the Crystal and the Flame)
Book), salt, gold leaf on board, acrylics, glass.
(A book titled “A History of the Earth and Animated Nature; Volume I” by Oliver Goldsmith, published in 1832, sealed in salt, on a bed of gold leaf with a sheet of glass holding it down. This particular book when published garnered great praise for its illuminating insight into our world. In fact it is a typical work of an imperialist, colonialist Victorian gentleman-cum-amateur scientist, full of spurious anecdotal evidence, ill-informed facts and dubious claims and is peppered with racist hyperbole. Salt destroys all but gold and glass. Salt, like time itself, is a preservative and a destroyer; it is the incorruptible essence of life; at death it is the last residue. This also refers to Italo Calvino’s writings and in particular a book called “Six Memos for the Next Millennium” which contains a short essay called “Exactitude” in which he discusses beautifully, the similarities and differences between a crystal and a flame. This is a really inspiring, erudite book that is alive with stimulating suggestivity. In this instance salt is destroying the book and by doing so is metaphorically redressing the natural order of things.)

Dark Embryos series
4 small boxed frames, each containing a different compressed material: –
(Coal = carbon = the oldest known substance in the universe. Volcano dust = evidence of enormous unseen eruptions beneath the earth’s crust. Salt = destroys all but gold and glass, like time itself it is, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, the great destroyer and the great preserver. Deer fur = soft and elusive. Where I live I frequently see a herd of 8 wild deer. These are beautiful, gentle, shy and understandably nervous creatures. Watching them calms me and inspires me greatly and I always long to stroke them but they will not allow human beings to approach them. I want these four boxes to convey ideas about materials and emotions that are both enduring and ethereal, the everyday that we tend to ignore, take for granted or abuse. These are materials that are usually hidden, unseen or untouchable and yet they effect us everyday – they serve to illustrate both the primacy of process frozen in time and the potential power and energy of compression whether it be of materials or ideas or words. For example, good poets have this ability to convey ideas of jaw-dropping insight and beauty in a few lines of crafted compression.)

28) Dark Embryo #1: Coal

29) Dark Embryo #2: Volcano dust

30) Dark Embryo #3: Deer fur

31) Dark Embryo #4: Salt

Assemblage boxes
(These relate to and celebrate the small, unseen, quiet explosions of energy in natural phenomenon, what I call “little forevers” – as opposed to the “big nows” of most of the contemporary media landscape. These are meditative, contemplative and curatorial works.)

32) What If? (Hum Box)
Loudspeaker, plaster, acrylics and oils in wooden box.

33) Perfume
Lightbulb, copper, roots, plaster, acrylics and oils in wooden box.

34) Fall to Rise
Leaves, mica, plaster, acrylics and oils in wooden box.

35) Little Niagaras
Feather, mica, plaster, acrylics and oils in wooden box.

– Some small mixed media leporello (concertina folding) hand made books concerned with the ethereal and the enduring. One Atoms To Skin demonstrates the process of rusting – man-made materials being gently subsumed and transformed by a natural chemical process, and another Dreaming Its Root shows abstracted cloud drawings using a Victorian art which uses candle smoke. Both are ethereal forms and both express the fragility and unpredictability of our contemporary condition. One never sees the same cloud twice and yet the smoke drawings are fixed. A third In Time explores celestial skies; another reference to Galileo.

Petulia Mattioli – Russell Mills. Caveau
Hold
Soundscape by Eraldo Bernocchi, Russell Mills, Mike Fearon

Palazzo delle Papesse opens its third series of exhibitions this year with two new shows, each occupying one floor of the palace. Alongside, this is the 8th installation in the Caveau cycle, and a special site-specific project by Olafur Eliasson.

The Caveau cycle takes place in the safe room of the ex Bank of Italy, used as a special project space. For this 8th edition the Italian video artist Petulia Mattioli collaborates with Russell Mills, an English artist famous for his legendary album covers. The research of the Italian artist has always explored the interaction between art and music, using sound as a fundamental part of her installations. These days her experimentation keeps growing thanks to the music created by Eraldo Bernocchi, Russell Mills and Mike Fearon (also with contributions by Bill Laswell, Harold Budd and the Ethiopian singer Gigi). It also interacts with Mills’ ‘object poems’, in a process of constant separation into parts that are reassembled again.

The second floor of the palace will instead appear empty at first sight. It hosts the interactive art of Invisibile, curated by Emanuele Quinz. The works showcased in Invisibile are not made up of visible objects. Within Invisibile is Olafur Eliasson’s The Uncertain Museum, a site-specific project commissioned to the artist by Palazzo delle Papesse.

Biographies

Petulia Mattioli. In 1994, Mattioli creates the project Verba Corrige Production with the musician and producer Eraldo Bernocchi. The work is based on the total interaction of art and music. She carries on producing graphics, stage sets, light designs, multimedia installations shown live on stage in various venue and theatres for artists such as: Bill Laswell, Toshinori Kondo, Dj Disk, Raiss, Somma (with the Tibetan monks), Ashes, Sigillum S in Italy, France, Germany, USA and Canada. Since 1994 Mattioli has been working with digital photography, installations, videos and multivisions created in real time using any media or language. She was amongst the ten artists shortlisted by the critics on the occasion of the 1998 Biennial of Young Artists. In 1998 Mattioli was awarded the first prize at Arti Visive 2 and her works exhibited at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa.

Russell Mills. Painter and musician, and creator of highly evocative album covers for some of the most important artists of the past few years – among these Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Harold Budd, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Robert Fripp, Nine Inch Nails. Mills collaborated with Eno on the book More Dark than Shark and with Sylvian for the video installation Ember Glance: The Permanence of Memory. Mills’ musical debut dates back to 1982 with the project Dome (Mzui/Waterloo Gallery) in collaboration with Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis (ex Wire). Strange Familiar (1996) is the first album under his name only, with Michael Brook. Mills’ second album, out in 1998, is Undark featuring Brook, Brian Eno and David Sylvian. In 2000 Pearl & Umbra offers a suggestive fusion of world music, electronica and rock with the help of some of Mills’ friends such as Bill Laswell, Harold Budd, Roger Eno, Paul Schutze, Robin Guthrie, Brian Eno, David Sylvian.

Eraldo Bernocchi. A musician and a fine sculptor of sound, Bernocchi was a member of the project Sigillum S, with whom he toured the world during the 80s. The 90s saw the expansion of his activity as a musician, producer and remixer together with prestigious collaborations. In 1997 Bernocchi produces the project Ashes with Bill Laswell and Raiss from Almamegretta, while carrying on other endeavours with artists such as Mick Harris, Percy Howard,Toshinori Kondo, Russell Mills, Scisma, DJ Olive, Jah Wobble, Thomas Fehlmann. The Italian public knows and loves him as the producer of Co.Dex, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti’s 2001 solo album. Bernocchi’s artistic partnership with the legendary Ferretti continues today: he is the director of the Sound and Music department in Giovanni Lindo’s Bottega di Musica e Comunicazione in Bologna.

Bill Laswell. Probably one of the most prolific musicians ever: Laswell’s discography (1982-2004) of his main titles – leaving aside hundreds of collaborations – reaches a count of 54. Bill Laswell, famous for his unique bass-playing style, is a complete artist: a musician and a performer, he also produces and manages his own label. Lasweel’s debut with the EP Temporary Music dates back to 1979. In 1983 he takes part in Herbie Hancock’s experiment with electronic music as the co-writer of Rock It, a track that topped the charts worldwide for weeks. Bill Laswell has played his bass for rock legends such as Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson. Having shaped his career on the concept of fusion of styles, Laswell has had forays into every musical genre conceivable: hip-hop (with Praxis), techno, ambient (with his own label, Axiom), dub (an example is the wonderful 2001 Radioaxiom: a dub transmission, with Jah Wobble), Irish traditional music (Emerald Aether: Shape Shifting. Reconstructions of Irish Music, 2000), drum’n’bass (Oscillations, vol. 2: Advanced Drum’n’Bass, 1988), jazz, religious music and Cuban music. Amongst his latest music productions are those for Dub Syndicate, Pete Namlook, Buckethead and DJ Spooky.

Mike Fearon. A sound engineer, musician and guitar teacher. Involved in the interaction between traditional and electronic music, he has taken part in group projects with Russell Mills, Michael Brook and David Sylvian. Fearon has been collaborating with Mills and Ian Walton since 1999 on sound in art installations.

Caveau

The Caveau exhibition series is hosted by one of the most interesting spaces within the Centre for Contemporary Art: the safe room built in 1952 by the Bank of Italy, whose headquarters were in the Palazzo delle Papesse at the time. The space has been left untouched with the original furnishings in place, from the iron cupboards to the safe door. It lends itself very well to the role of project room as a challenge set to different artists, each time asked to confront themselves and offer a personal interpretation of such a strongly characterised space. The work of art is forced here to find different channels of development in order to avoid the risk of being annihilated. Therefore, the caveau is no mere container but aspires to the role of work of art itself – or at least, to the transformation in an integral part of the installation.

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