The Financial Singing by Elena Mazzi

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Elena Mazzi, The financial singing, 2014, installation view
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 “. Continue reading “The Financial Singing by Elena Mazzi”

Fiona Marron

Fiona Marron is a visual artist based in Dublin, Ireland. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Dublin Institute of Technology and an MA in Visual Arts Practice from IADT Dun Laoghaire.  Solo exhibitions include Co-location at RUA RED South Dublin Arts Centre, Ireland (2013), Last and First Men at The Joinery, Dublin, Ireland (2011),  As Topic and Tool at The Joinery (2010) and For Who Knows What at FOUR, Dublin, Ireland (2009).  Recent group exhibitions include In Free Circulation’ at Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, Ingenious Showcase at The Drawing Project, Dun Laoghaire, We all live on the same sea at Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Co.Cork (2014). She has recently been awarded a residency as part the Digital Media Award at Firestation Artists’ Studios, Dublin and a production residency at Creative Spark, Dundalk, Co.Louth.

Sophie Behalf, Maeve Lynch, Steven Nestor, Rosie O’ Reilly and Benjamin Stafford had interviewed her.

Q1: Do you consider yourself an Irish practitioner of the arts? If so how does that manifest itself and is it difficult to be an Irish practitioner?

Yes – Identifying myself as an Irish practitioner of the arts, I acknowledge that my practice is based in Ireland and has a particular perspective because of this. While geographically on the periphery of Europe, and due of the island nature of the country I feel there are certain particularities to being an Irish artist. While still being exposed to European influences it is easier to be impartial to some trends. I don’t think being an artist in Ireland is necessarily difficult but I would be of the opinion that support for artists in other parts of Europe is more ingrained in society and perhaps eases certain pressures. Continue reading “Fiona Marron”

PIIGS Interview #5

Do you think PIIGS can fly? (ironical reference)

PT: The crisis that erupted in 2008, gave the neoliberal agenda a perfect excuse for its application. By the claim of “no other way”, the PIIGS countries were forced to implement large austerity measures and labour reforms, which disregard even the most fundamental EU tenets. Suddenly there were found pigs among us, and there is a fundamental logic behind this “warm” nickname. Continue reading “PIIGS Interview #5”

PIIGS Interview #4

As far as art is concerned, is it possible to defined it as the last critical space in neoliberalism reality? Can art free itself from the rules of the dominant market? Or if not, how can art deal with both the dominant economic rationality and develop an analytical approach to it?

PT: The modern economic system of art, which can be dated to the late XIX century, erupted in Paris somewhat by the instauration of the first art galleries. This galleries were envisioned to support the distribution and spreading of impressionist and post-impressionist artworks, thus representing a rebelliousness against the highly restricted art exhibited at the Salons, still clinging to the canons of the French Academie. At this point in history, approaching the spectators, by the means of another market segment, opened the possibilities of public choice and support of other artistic aspirations by the means of consumption, allowing the public to endorse another alternative order for art appreciation and validation. Continue reading “PIIGS Interview #4”

PIIGS Interview #3

Considering the socio-economical situation of your own country, which were the real employment prospects you had when you first undertook your studies in curatorial practices?

PT:In Portugal, as in other countries, we do not have many employment prospects in curatorial practices. Apart of some small projects inside universities or small galleries, it is very difficult for young curators and other art professionals to find a job and apply all their acquired skills.
In our country, we have some opportunities together with private institutions, that provide few scholarships for projects annually, but when we came across the offer in public jobs or public support for the arts, the landscape is very different. Continue reading “PIIGS Interview #3”

PIIGS Interview #2

2- Do you think that quality in art and curatorial projects may only be achieved in main art centers? Artist, curators, gallerists, and other “art workers” use to migrate permanently or temporarily into art centers, places in which they can see great exhibitions, attend fashionable events and meet the “right” people. Is living in peripheral areas actually an hindrance to the development of curatorial and artistic projects?

PT: It is not our conviction that high quality art can only be achieved at main art centres. Although, considering capitalism as our economy system these places achieve a greater relevance, due to its better offer in practical conditions and therefore public attention and funding, when compared to other art exhibit locations in peripheral areas. This fact can be observed, mainly, around the strong economic countries. This can be justified probably because on these countries there is a greater support of the arts, either public or private, hence creating greater possibilities to transpose “barriers”, that without it, one probably couldn’t. Continue reading “PIIGS Interview #2”

PIIGS Interview #1

A short interview: five questions, five answers to each question. One question each article, with five answers: a first real discussion.

Is there a common ground between all the PIIGS Countries? If Yes how would you describe it?

PT: The main reason why the PIIGS countries were grouped together is the substantial instability of their economies, which was an evident problem in 2009. All had experienced a severe economic downturn, budgetary and debt crisis, and intervention by international institutions.The five countries present high levels of unemployment and a very high proportion of those who are unemployed are long-term, indicating that the problem is becoming structural.They show increases in income poverty, with childhood poverty a particular problem in each and showing an increase in all countries since 2007.
All of the ‘PIIGS’ experienced increased emigration with the crisis. In all these countries social risks are increasing, social systems are being tested and individuals and families are under stress.Once the size of the PIIGS’ debt has become clear, investors are getting more and more reluctant to buy bonds from European countries, since many of those countries are heavily in debt — and the ones that aren’t in debt look like they might have to assume responsibility for the ones that are.

Continue reading “PIIGS Interview #1”

Irish Observatory

The Observatory section of TALKING PIIGS offers us an opportunity to engage with both art practitioners and non art practitioners in discourse around the effects of the economic collapse in Ireland. Our methodology for the first set of interviews is quantitative; we will gather a range of information that expresses the mood of art practitioners during this period and assess its impact on their own professional practice. The reach of the survey will be national and include artists, curators, gallery owners and directors of arts institutions. A second collection of information will be from non art practitioners to allow reflection from both inside and outside the art world. Key themes that emerged as points of observation that will inform our enquiry and become important discussion points for PIIGS_An Alternative Geography of Curating are:

Cycles, financial and other. Where does art fit in these cycles?
Art world & hierarchy. What are the value systems associated with art? How do people use art? What does it mean to be an Irish artist to-day / during recession?

Sophie Behalf, Maeve Lynch, Steven Nestor, Rosie O’ Reilly and Benjamin Stafford

A gaze from within: the social experience of Giulio Delvè

The recent research of Giulio Delvè (Naples, 1984), delves into the study of dominant social dynamics in gentrified spaces, especially in those contexts more harshly hit by this almost ten-year old crisis. Delvè’s approach to social dimensions is characterized by a direct participation in these social bounds, in order to gain a first-hand knowledge and experience of them, his artistic output is often expressed through sculpture-objects and installations marked by a metaphorical language. His gaze from within comes, all of a sudden, synthesized and through “sought objects” translated in a new meaning-form, despite their being firmly embedded in the real world.

Muralismi, a work-in-progress series, is composed by various graffiti’s colorful flakes of plaster, rearranged in order to form abstractly the setting from which they come from. My reflection is dedicated in this case to observation, not to painting: I needed a pretext to analyze a situation, a movement, a contingency much close to me”. Continue reading “A gaze from within: the social experience of Giulio Delvè”

The Observatory

The Observatory will be an investigation emplacement on the actors of the contemporary art system in Italy. At variable frequency, it will be offer interviews with artists, curators, museum directors, critics and gallery owners in order to provide a detailed overview on the current situation and how the crisis has impacted on various professions. The interview is necessary mode of reflection for its dialogical component, which is essential in the project PIIGS_An Alternative Geography of Curating.

A first set of interviews will address the reality of Southern Italy, an area that, for numerous reasons, suffered and suffers more the effects of the economic crisis.

Gianpaolo Cacciottolo