One of the main goals of PIIGS and curators involved in this project must be – and it has been so far – try to understand how artists approach to the crisis. In my research I had the chance to meet Elena Mazzi (Reggio Emilia, 1984), an artist who is often dealing with the concept of crisis in its wider meaning, not only from the economic point of view.
“I’m working since long time on the crisis. In 2009 I was in L’Aquila and I lived the experience of the earthquake. I started to think about the crisis as an opportunity for positive change, the chance to start again, also thanks to Per Bak and his book How nature works, in which the Danish physicist compares ability of nature to self-organize and how so this is imitated by men”.
I had a chance to talk with Elena Mazzi about one of her works in particular, The financial singing (2014), a video installation with two screens that, through a graph and a singing performance, on the one hand it provides a real track of the trend Stock Exchange of a specific context (USA 1871-2011), the other a musical interpretation of the same.
“At a certain point in his book, Bak faces the economic issue, especially how men reacts to changes. And the Stock Exchange is one of the clearest reflections of the trend of contemporary society. It is an unpredictable complex system whose line is characterized by high and low. It is a structure in which you can find a not linear rhythm, but in some way it is cyclical. In my opinion the American Stock Exchange is the symbol of Western capitalist society that has determined the course of the twentieth century. Working closely with a soprano we transferred the graph on the pentagram. The same soprano subsequently played it in a singing performance “.
Elena Mazzi introduced the syllables of the graph, which together with the line’s peaks let the viewer to follow the trend of singing performance.
“We tried to translate it in an onomatopoeic way according to historical times to which the peaks relate. For example, the Eighties are brilliant, fast, strong, in contrast to the period of the crisis of ’29, that is dark, low, tonal. We used musical figures such as trillo, crescendo, decrescendo, in addition to some syllables”.
The financial singing is an ongoing project, the artist’s intention is to proceed by case studies, identify other graphics related to different economic contexts in order to analyze them and put them in that form, mostly contemporary economies in the process of strong growth and development.
Elena Mazzi was born in 1984 in Reggio Emilia (Italy). She received her BFA in 2007 in History of Art from Siena University, and her MFA in 2011 in Visual Art from IUAV, Venice University. She was selected for an exchange program at Royal Academy of Art (Konsthogskolan) of Stockholm. She participated in the 14° Istanbul Biennale, 17° BJCEM Mediterranean Biennale, EGE-European Glass Experience, Fittja Pavilion at the 14° Architecture Venice Biennale, COP17 in Durban, Festival of Contemporary Art in Slovenia, and among others she exhibited at Botkyrka Konsthall in Stockholm, Italian Institute of Culture in Stockholm, XIV BBCC Expo in Venice, Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation. She attended different residency programs and workshops such as HIAP (FI), GuilmiArtProject (IT), Via Farini (IT), Foundation Botin (SP), Bevilacqua La Masa (IT), Future Farmers A.I.R. (USA), Fondazione Spinola Banna in Turin (IT), Dolomiti contemporanee (IT), Botkyrka Konsthall Air (SE).
She is one of the finalists at Celeste Prize, Fabbri prize, Meru prize and Termoli prize and the winner of Illy grant for Unidee, Pistoletto Foundation 2016, ntcm e l’arte 2016, m-cult media and technology program 2016, Special mention for Arte Patrimonio e diritti umani, Antworks award 2015, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo prize 2015, Lerici Foundation grant in 2012 and Movin’up Italian prize for young Italian artists abroad in 2011.
Elena Mazzi currently lives and works in Venice.