April saw a residency at Casa degli Artisti, a remote medieval house devoted since the 1960's to housing collections of art from both it's founder Giacomo Vittone and international visiting artists. Situated in the Dolmits region north of the stunning Lake Garda it bestowed it's charms on us from the moment we arrived late on Saturday night.
Notably there was no sound at night at all except the low level clicking of crickets. All shutters were closed and no artificial lighting polluted the darkness of the mountain space. The morning gave us the most stunning view. What we couldn't see travelling up there at night was a vast mountainside on the other side of the narrow valley. The birdsong and sun awoke us and the mountains made their presence felt.
This house was a rabbit warren of hidden rooms, underground cellars, dusty attics and years of unknown history. We went exploring. It felt un-lived in. It needed occupying. Out in the garden we all as a group led by Bianca underwent some rite of passage ritual to break free of any creative blocks we may have been carrying. Can't name this ritual as not entirely sure what it was. Time to explore.
Lago di Tenno is a stunning glacial turquoise lake nearby which we explored. Time for sound recording, observing, photographing, listening, taking a dip in the freezing waters. The next two days involved the amazing husband & wife team of Manolo & Juri (Dolomit Learning) giving us a tour in an anthropological & sociological way of the region including the beauty that is Riva del Garda.
The exhibition by this time was looming on the Thursday. Guests had been invited. Food had been ordered. We had yet to produce work or curate our show. Pressure was on. I found myself retreating from the frantic production line of the main studio space to a quieter room and worked from a less frantic setting. It was a massively glorious time to only have to think about my work. To not have the distractions, pulls, commitments of daily life stop starting the flow of ideas. Things began to crystalline. To deconstruct. To simplify. Everything began being paired down to it's most essential parts.
I began to muse on relationships & connections. Both of the local folk and of our group and of those at home. What ties us together? What causes tension? What are the spaces in-between?
These constraints formed the core of the installation piece I produced. Alongside the work I ran a rolling soundscape of church bells, rain, water lapping, metal yacht rails, sheep bells, conversations in italian.
It was an amazing experience. To be immersed in another country. To work in an unknown area. To work alongside the group. To be a stranger in a strange land.