Esotericism and art under the volcano – Stromboli

In July 2015, the Sicilian island of Stromboli will host the fifth edition of Volcano Extravaganza, the yearly festival of contemporary art presented by Fiorucci Art Trust. For this year’s programme, entitled In Favour of a Total Eclipse, curator Milovan Farronato will stage the adaptation of a prophetic manuscript whose author remains unknown.
16 Luglio 2015

  • Kenneth Anger, Lucifer Rising, 1970 Copyright Kenneth Anger Courtesy Sprueth Magers
  • Work by Kembra Pfahler - Volcano Extravaganza
  • Portrait of Goshka Macuga
  • Work by Christodoulos Panayiotou © Screen capture, youtube video. Alessandra Ferri as Giselle, La Scala, Milano, 1996
  • Stromboli Landscape 3 © Lewis Ronald
  • Raphael Hefti, Quick Fix Remix - performance at Ancient and Modern, London
  • Portrait of Thomas Zipp
  • Portrait of Mathilde Rosier
  • Portrait of Kenneth Anger, 2013 Courtesy Sprueth Magers
  • Christodoulos val, anv‰nd denna
  • Work by Adriano Costa
  • Portrait of Adriano Costa

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Dal 17 (giorno di luna piena) al 27 luglio (giorno di picco dello sciame meteoritico del Delta Aquaridi) l’isola di Stromboli ospita la quinta edizione di Volcano Extravaganza, progetto d’arte contemporanea presentato da Fiorucci Art Trust, che nel 2015 prende il nome di In Favour of a Total Eclipse. A cura di Milovan Farronato, il tutto (titolo compreso) prende spunto dall’interpretazione di un antico manoscritto profetico ritrovato nel 2008 durante il primo soggiorno di Fiorucci Art Trust sul luogo, il cui autore rimane ignoto. L’oscurità del testo stesso (la cui decifrazione è stata presa a cuore dalla società), a cui fa riferimento anche il titolo, trova espressione nei lavori degli artisti invitati, nonché nei luoghi espositivi: le zone più nascoste e spopolate dell’isola. “In Favour of a Total Eclipse” si svilupperà nel corso di tre atti (17-19, 21-23 e 23-27 luglio), che richiamano il simbolismo del testo narrativo omonimo originale, diviso, appunto, in tre sezioni.

Va a crearsi, dunque, una specularità tra progetto e fonte d’ispirazione, la cui difficoltà di traduzione e il cui lato esoterico ed arcano lasciano spazio a due giornate (20 e 24 luglio) di assoluta meditazione. Ecco gli artisti partecipanti, suddivisi secondo i tre turni espositivi: Kenneth Anger & Brian Butler, Mathilde Rosier e Raphael Hefti; Thomas Zipp, Adriano Costa e Kembra Pfahler; Goshka Macuga, Pedro Paiva & João Maria Gusmão e Christodoulos Panayiotou. Inoltre, la collaborazione con la Vinyl Factory di Londra darà luogo ad un programma musicale che vedrà le performance del dj italiano Daniele Baldelli (18 luglio) e l’intervento dei dj della Vinyl Factory, che fonderanno i loro linguaggi sonori con il rumore delle onde del mare: il dj set, condotto da una barca, coinvolgerà tutta la spiaggia (19 luglio). Da ricordare è anche la collaborazione tra Fiorucci Art Trust e Serpentine Gallery, che consente a Christodoulos Panayiotou di presentare il suo “Dying on Stage”, che mediante letture affronterà il significato letterale, metaforico e simbolico delle morti sul palco, come il significato filologico del concetto di “ironia tragica”.

Stromboli Landscape 1 © Goshka Macuga

Stromboli Landscape 1 © Goshka Macuga

Volcano Extravaganza – In Favour of a Total Eclipse an adaptation by Milovan Farronato
17-27 July 2015, Stromboli, IT

In July 2015, the Sicilian island of Stromboli will host the fifth edition of Volcano Extravaganza, the yearly festival of contemporary art presented by Fiorucci Art Trust. For this year’s programme, entitled In Favour of a Total Eclipse, curator Milovan Farronato will stage the adaptation of a prophetic manuscript whose author remains unknown. With its title acting in praise for obscurity, In Favour of a Total Eclipse will present a new series of artist’s projects taking place in the most hidden spots and unforeseeable locations of the volcanic island. The programme will begin with the new moon on Friday 17 July and last until 27 July, the peak of the Delta Aquarids meteor shower.

In Favour of a Total Eclipse will unfold over the course of three acts recalling the symbolism of the original, eponymous narrative text, where failing to appear was the virtue at stake. The manuscript was discovered upon Fiorucci Art Trust’s first visit to Stromboli in 2008 and it was handed over to the organisation to preserve and decipher its contents. The act of translating is difficult by definition and, in this specific instance, has not been resolved in all its parts. The composition in three sections of the manuscript is faithfully mirrored in the format of this year’s festival, yet a subjective interpretation of the original script is given. Two dates (20 & 24 July) are left purposely unprogrammed and open to reflection and meditative moments.

The active volcano and unlit landscape of Stromboli will become the natural, ideal stage for As below so above (17-19 July), including a special screening-cum-performance by Kenneth Anger & Brian Butler; a dance performance on top of the active volcano by Mathilde Rosier; and live Thermit welding on the darkest shores by Raphael Hefti. During the second act (21-23 July), the powerful energies of the works of Thomas Zipp, Adriano Costa and Kembra Pfahler will come together to celebrate a tribute, apology and praise to the volcano. On three different days, the artists will each present a new work, including a parade, sacred offerings and collective performative actions. The title of this chapter is still being decoded, while its relation to transhumance seems certain. The third and final act, La Catastrophe, will see otherworldly appearances and endings.

Goshka Macuga’s alien will deliver its first speech to humans and films by Pedro Paiva & Joa?o Maria Gusma?o will open the possibilities for other kinds of sightings. On the last day, Christodoulos Panayiotou’s performative lecture will focus on the representation of death on stage. In Favour of a Total Eclipse includes a collaboration with The Vinyl Factory, London, who will present a special music programme as part of Volcano Extravaganza. Legendary Italian DJ Daniele Baldelli will play a special ‘Cosmic’ disco set all-night long under the stars on 18 July, hosted at Stromboli’s club Mega. On 19 July, sound and sea waves will intertwine on the beach for a unique live set by a special guest TBA, played from a boat as a companion piece to Rafael Hefti’s performance artwork. The Vinyl Factory film team will be on Stromboli documenting the events for their online channel. A special limited edition vinyl in celebration of Volcano Extravaganza 2015 will be released by The Vinyl Factory later in the year, including contributions from Adriano Costa, Kembra Pfahler and Thomas Zipp, among others.

Giovanna Silva will be photographer-in-residence and document Volcano Extravaganza in Stromboli through her work.  Food-design studio Arabeschi di Latte will join the last act to unveil the alchemic and alimentary properties of typical, locally sourced food products.

On Friday 18 September at 8pm, the Serpentine Galleries in association with Fiorucci Art Trust will present Christodoulos Panayiotou’s Dying on Stage, a lecture/reading exploring the hierarchical order of literal, metaphorical and symbolic deaths on the stage, as well as the philological concept of ‘tragic irony’, through readings, videos and dance. This new version of Dying on Stage, which features dancer Jean Capeille in a choreography by Panayiotou, premieres in Stromboli on the occasion of In Favour of a Total Eclipse.

Work by Thomas Zipp

Work by Thomas Zipp


17 July – On the first night of the festival, which coincides with the New Moon, Kenneth Anger & Brian Butler will present a special outdoor screening of films such as Lucifer Rising and Rabbit’s Moon, accompanied by a live sound performance including infrasound frequencies that resonate with those produced by the volcano. One study has suggested that low frequency sound can cause people to have unusual experiences even though they cannot consciously detect infrasound.

18 July – For Mathilde Rosier’s performance Abstracting Attraction in Stromboli the public will climb to the crater of the volcano while the sun is setting. In a state of mind modified by the gentle exhaustion and the scenery, they will meet two dancers composing a static ballet of a fantastic absurdity. They will show how the usual perception of the Self can be blurred and the rigid barrier between me and the Otherness broken. The notion of identity as gender or as anything else vanishes, consumed on a volcanic stage.

Who am I?
I am the abyss
The bottom of my soul has so much depth Nether joy nor the waves of sorrow can reach it I am bliss
Who am I?
I am the abyss…

This song for drum, adapted from Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro, comes with the dance.

19 July – Raphael Hefti will engage with the natural context of Stromboli and stage a new, specially conceived iteration of the Thermit welding performance series on a remote beach. The features and materials existing on this volcanic island lend themselves perfectly as the setting for Hefti’s performative work. From the characteristic black sand of Stromboli beaches, to the presence of an active volcano, all the natural elements on this island resonate very much with the aesthetics of Thermit welding, as well as with Hefti’s broader interest in challenging materials through extreme conditions of transformation. The audience will witness the spectacular shifts in state that occur when steel is heated to melting point then cooled within ravine-like grooves in the sand.

21 July – For his performance Method of limits for determining sensory thresholds, Thomas Zipp conceptualises a microcosm model of the society, whereby he is dealing with the possibilities of psychophysical measurement methods. The performance will be arranged as an experimental set-up, which portrays and reflects social structures and surveys them here specifically in view of the social function of spirituality and Religion and the related rituals. The Medium of Performance will be used as an instrument to explore the possibilities of artistic work and extends it into scientific research and religious practice. Can art grow as a collateral product out of scientific research or religious practice? Is it possible to do scientific research or release spiritual energies within the framework of artistic work? These are questions Thomas Zipp is asking while reversing Guy Debords society of the spectacle: the aesthetical potential of mundane staging of human action is focused, social categories, the difference between reality and illusion, authenticity and appearance are losing their definiteness and their relevance.

22 July – Adriano Costa will present DARKROOM: a place for magic where we do not judge. As an old adage in Portuguese says: “In the darkness, all cats are
gray”. DARKROOM will be a space in between the Sacred and the Profane, a place where new objects of desire will be revered. The absence of light will become an invitation to bring us back to a time when things were freer, accompanied by the sound of Brazilian and Italian pop tracks.

23 July – Set within a large, dark cave by the sea, the new performance by Kembra Pfahler is conceived as an apology to Stromboli volcano. Through the involvement of multiple presences, including locals and non-professional performers, Pfahler will create an explosive environment in close response to the natural presence of the active volcano.

25 July – Goshka Macuga’s presentation will stage an alien landing on Stromboli, including an alien’s speech touching upon subjects of human history and the future. Macuga has been working recently on the idea of ending or collapse and she has been exploring different fields of research starting from art history, math, anthropology, philosophy to arrive at the conclusion that we have no chance to continue on this planet or in the Universe. Perhaps the only way to carry on would be as machine or in large part machine and small proportion human.

26 July – An open air screening in Ginostra – the very small village on the other side of Stromboli, separated by the Sciara del Fuoco – will include a selection of early and new works by Joa?o Maria Gusma?o and Pedro Paiva. Films will include new material shot during their recent residency in Japan and growing out of the artists’ long-time interest in subjects of alterity, alien-ness and archetypes.

27 July – Christodoulos Panayiotou’s reading, based on a series of videos, aims to identify dominant death representation systems on stage. Drawn by Rudolf Nureyev’s choreography of La Bayade?re, which Nureyev completed for the Paris Opera, shortly before his death, Panayiotou suggests an idiosyncratic seminar questioning the hierarchical order of literal, metaphorical, and symbolic deaths. Dancer Jean Capeille will participate in the performance with a “Pas-Seul” (a classical variation) choreographed by Panayiotou.

Work by Kembra Pfahler; photography by Walter Wlodarczyk

Work by Kembra Pfahler; photography by Walter Wlodarczyk

Portrait of the artists Courtesy of the Artists (Pedro Paiva & João Maria Gusmão)

Portrait of the artists Courtesy of the Artists (Pedro Paiva & João Maria Gusmão)

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