An almost abandoned village, the legend of a glorious woman, the human condition.
“Uphill” is the result of an exploration of the intersections and the resonating pattern among these elements.
Scaletta Zanclea, Macalda, us.
We have birth and we often struggle about what we found out there waiting for us.
We are depicted in a certain way, they pave for us roads we don’t recognize as ours.
We are thought as the solution to others’ lives, problems, psychosis.
Even our actions are reinterpreted according to a culture we did not contributed to shape.
How can we reclaim our authenticity then?
How can we unchain us?
Which are the consequences?
Can we really do that?
Are we courageous enough?
“Uphill” is a site-specific performance by Cristiano Siri that mix physical theatre, poetry, dance, music and videos beating hard around these questions.
sCristiano; we are going to walk up! Up is the way! In the dark!
Cristiano knows how to walk. Much better than me. And he trusts only his own experience. So does not want to walk in the dark. I respect that but disagree. Sometimes you must put yourself out of your comfort zone. I had done the road before, yet no other knows, and he does only trust himself.
But Cristiano also feels the presence of subtle “matter”, the matter of wich bonds and dreams are made. I see him a few days later. On the top of the wall, in the wind, and the wind is strong as the tower foundations, as the mountain and as the island. I feel frail, not him. As his words were strong. Strong words tree time repeated. When I heard the poem for the first time I shivered. I think we all did. Was a great performance, a generous act. “In salita”. Uphill.
Sounds without images. Not necessary.
Matthew is an artist. He plays a lot of different instruments, to heal, to reach out, to break the distances between people. In trasformatorio, he shined in many different ways. I see him on the mount Etna, his rainbow jacket, and a casket of wood he carried on the whole way up. He wanted to burn it for the burning mountain. When we were resting, panting, drinking water on the semi-top, he disappeared a bit. The mountain few meters from us began to smoke, and the melting of the snow accelerated. Was this you? The igniter of the fire? Or better you took some of the lady’s one to carry down in the valley to the tower?
The smile of the wanderer covers your tracks, happy fellow…
Memory Distilled is a Python script that extracts the most used words from a text and places them into a shaped wordcloud.
The concept behind
This project starts in the bosom of the artistic residence of Trasformatorio 2017, to which I was honored to participate.
The main idea was to transform the energies and the resources that we found abundant in Scaletta Zanclea into something to give back.
For days I observed the people, the feelings, the landscapes, the thoughts: an explosion of beauty that was awaking in me lots of forgotten stimuli. Only in the last days, I’ve suddenly realized that the biggest transformation had occurred inside me thanks to the new experiences I was put into: as a project I wanted to distillate my thoughts as the deepest expression of my inner processes.
I keep a diary in which I record my days and thoughts, that was my starting point.
The starting point was given by the things I wrote down in those days. I’ve applied to it algorithms of Natural Language Processing to split the text, to bring back the words to their original lemma (basic form) and to compute the frequencies of usage of every single word.
At this stage, I can deduce which are the most dominant concepts reported in my diary. Through algorithms of Sentiment Analysis, I can assign a different color to the words that belong to the neutral, positive or negative semantic field. When it’s all set I print them onto the shape of the beautiful castle that has hosted us for 10 days.
A conceptual storytelling based on a local legend which is lost in time, using photography and slow motion animation, narratives and digital interaction.
The legend of Macalda of Scaletta presents the ordinary life of a living ghost in a contemporary reality moving freely around the village. After having different conversations and interviews with local people from Scaletta Superiore and Inferiore, we collected memories and impressions to inspire our project and recreate the legend as a contemporary one (future of storytelling).
The interactive storytelling allows the user to visit different locations and navigate on a map of Scaletta which connects the old and new village. In every spot, there is a picture or a short animation appearing together with a sound file (narrator voice or sound). All participants in this project (making off, the whole process, interaction): Irene, Martina, Jakub, Nino, Giulio, Rosaria.
I don´t have a video version that can be used online. If Nino or Giulio can create a video with some linear narrative containing the audios, it can be used to present this project on the internet (Youtube).
A visual photo documentation of Scaletta Zanclea during the residency period. The memories collected are directly connected with the sensorial perception of the environment and mixed with own impressions. While editing the images, a text came out as a narrative for the visuals collected. (Find it below and as an attached doc to this email).
It´s 17:10 to my left and 14:50 to my right. Where am I? One turn, two, three and four, what´s the time? Life moves backward and forwards in this strange paradise. I contemplate the landscape while listening to the perfect disharmony of a timeless symphony performed by an invisible orchestra, which instruments are made of electric wires and ferocious plants.
I smell the precious nectar of blossoming flowers trapping through the leftovers of an empty house. In the nonsense, the village maintains it´s own rhythm, solitude caress the pale with gradients of a green palette.
Nature takes all over the place invading massively as
an army of Mother Earth. While something perishes, something else is born. While the elderly count their days left, wilderness raises embracing it all.
Like two sides of a coin or a spiral staircase, this village goes up and down with a beautiful nonsense. I leave behind the fragments that I found today from an undated yesterday. Feeling like an archaeologist of tomorrow, smiling and wondering about all these artifacts and waste.
According to no law that science can tell, there is something peculiar in the streets and their smell. Some smell of flowers while others like death, some doors remain close when others are not found.
The people of this village are peculiar as well. They are scalettians, they function as the stairs. Life goes always up and down, down and up, who cares. While the dead ones meet up, modern life flows down the stairs.
Nature likes to play here too with disasters and big flows. They take away what men have built and leave a mess around. When nature wants to manifest it is an horror show. The forces of a thousand sons of Titan Poseidon play triumphant trumpets on their march towards the Sea and Beyond.
Memory seems to be forgotten in this tiny town. When one ask about their ghosts, nobody seems to know if they were once alive or dead or even if they existed. There is a castle on the top where all these invisible ones hang together and remain as local villagers. If you ask me where am I, I no longer know how to answer to this question without feeling lost. I love the fact that this place is a mixture of all times.
Somehow, it feels like the wind, sometimes dances soft and smooth and others like a storm.
Sca Zan Le Cle Tta A,
no matter what the order is, Scaletta Zanclea and Zanclea Scaletta are both one.
You can see many pictures taken by Irene all over the documentation of Trasformatorio 2017. She has a deep sensibility that she showed in a series of portraits of nature as well as the people she met.
Half of the secret dramaturgy of the operation rested on her strong shoulders and I would not have made it without her. This is not an evaluation talk, is a thank you.
Installation: Dry cactus leaves and tuna dye
Alluvione was made out of memories from tragedy, hope and nostalgia. A great flood in 2009 made an impression in the people from Scaletta and its landscape. One afternoon spent with any of them will allow you to feel the fear, shock, and respect people have towards nature, which always reminds us it cannot be controlled. Nostalgia because the cactus brought back to me memories from my country with a beautiful reminder of hope. The cactus has a slow and beautiful process of decadence, with the right timing, one can find traces of their inner structures dried out. Many of these leaves were specifically selected and dyed with the natural pigment of the fruit from the same plant, tuna. Later on, they were joined one after another to create a line which symbolises tears. Alluvione was placed in a specific site of the castle tormented by air, as a reminder of the flood and the unstoppable trace and force of nature.
Azucena work proceeded from familiarity and observation. Her sensibility transformed her findings into textiles, into the coral reef, into food, and memories. Left flying on the castle tower until has been cut out, by a knife, in the morning sun.
Arranging dead plants found in Scaletta Zanclea had to me at times more immediate function and overall an underlying driving force.
Curtain at the entrance of the castle made of dry giant fennel branches meant to mark the passage to a place where one can allow oneself more and is more open for reception, to take one defenses somewhat down. For a moment one is being brushed over by the plants, not knowing or seeing what is behind them, what is the meaning of it, and where does it lead to. Immersed and then free again to experience works that are awaiting visitors.
I found beauty, inquietude and gloom in branches placed on stairs to the castle. Similarly with dry trees that became part of Martina Caronna’s and Irina Baldini’s performance.
The driving force behind collecting the dead plants and making use of them is willingness to express sadness. Sadness of loosing home, sadness of loosing close people, sadness of some things that happened in my life, in life of my parents, in life of my grandparents, in all of our lives. And to accept this sadness.
Thank you to all of you who got engaged with the dead plants, helped with them and changed them. Your words, gestures, deeds and sheer presence made it all happen.
Jakob, Kuba for us, in various sounds and accents. Wandering up and down for the path to the castle tower. Day by day. Taking up textures, fighting thorns, stones, sweat and the wind. From the sea to the higher point of the tower. Efficient collector, smiling. We engaged in a staged fight where I killed him in a gruesome way. Poor Koba, he died laughing and was reborn a second later with a big smile.
His rebirth was a happy one, as, later on, he was the only one to swim the Scaletta sea, the strait of Messina water of the utmost blue, famous to be icy also in the summer.
The 28 night the castle seemed angry at us. From down up, the light was out in the whole village because of some strange leak in the system. No one really felt like to climb again the couple kilometres or so of steep path. But Kuba had to carry the trees…
And so we took the tree on our shoulders. 8 of them. and all we were silent, one foot after the other, to the dark village, in the grasses.
And on the pavement of the castle, looking up, we saw the dark spectral presence of the tower and our hart weakened. Strong wind. Sky covered.
Someone started lighting the trees. And danced. And we sang.
And the shadow of the dead forest hugged the walls around, climbed the castle, that was wan.
“no one climbs up to the tower till the stars show themselves!”.
So said the old man. And the star came out while you were dancing between the dead plants. And the first one was Jupiter. And this was good. And we walked to give the tower the last assault…
Then live, Macduff. What need I fear of thee?
But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live,
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.
THIRD APPARITION : a child crowned, with a tree in his hand
Presentation Day, 30 April 2017.
Some of the works have been presented this day. Some took shape during the presentation itself, as guided, inspired improvisations, till everyone entered the rooms of the tower, in pitch black that night, and got guided by their refined senses. Those documentation media and stories in a different butch.
The day started early, with a wounded falcon escaping a cat, under the bridge of the train, close to the sea. We tried to help but also fear that our intervention could have been disruptive. Maybe another sign from the spirits of the place. The sea gate was guarded by Horus? Or by the cat? The Falcon lately disappeared without any trace.
We went on eating some of the sheep that Eugenio the village butcher sacrificed in our honour. She cooked 7 hours in the wood oven behind his living room/shop. Another 7.
But officially all started as we took care of a group of people from Scaletta, as they came with us on the old path from the sea to the tower, a path that some of them did not step upon since 30 years.
The ascent was steady till the “Batteria” (Battery, both for cannons that to refuel our own), were the dancing stones from Nina Divitschek and Almud Krejza were waiting for us. Powerful poetry was repeated over and over, read from a strip of paper by Dierk Roosen in dutch language. And was translated by the Mother of RE, suddenly, with her german/sicilian incredible voice.
Then, after our offer, some asked to be blindfolded. We had brought too few bandages but improvised some more. And so, lead by friends, or family, as they could see with other senses.
The passage through the old empty houses towards the end of the path was enriched with names of forgotten people. The “Cascionara”, an old lady that used to sit close to the st. Paul memorial image. People that n not o one talked about since long.
We arrived up, to the church. And up again to the castle.
The images in the gallery refer to what has happened in the castle thereafter. These gallery images are taken by Irene Dominguez that was indefatigable during these days. They are (as all content here) cc Attribution-ShareAlike licenced.