Marsèlleria presents a solo show by the artistic duo Invernomuto, from Thursday 23 October to Saturday 29 October 2014.
The exhibition is designed as an overview of the last three years of artistic research and production by the duo, comprising Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi. It takes the form of a narrative and reflection on themes generating varied, multi-faceted content that is at the same time harmonious and coherent.
The exhibition illustrates all the characteristic features of Invernomuto’s work, which focuses on processes of cultural combination. The artists’ approach is based on the combination of popular rituals, symbols from folklore and urban culture, reinterpreted using different languages such as moving images, sound and installations.
Invernomuto adopt a complex artistic format, and in this exhibition it takes over the three floors of the gallery, which form three separate areas that are nonetheless interconnected and in close relation in terms of thematic affinity and areas of investigation.
The exhibition is organized in the form of a non-chronological itinerary, comprising sculptures and video works, specially adapted and modified for the spaces of Marsèlleria, along with a series of new installations specially made for the show.
The sequence of works begins from a point of access to the space designed for the project, which is a floor lower than normal (basement floor), in order to invite visitors to explore the exhibition vertically, from bottom to top.
Each space has a title referring to a real location: evocative titles that introduce the theme and atmosphere found in the corresponding area.
The Negus cycle – an extensive documentary that traces an imaginary line linking Vernasca (near Piacenza, and the location of origin of Invernomuto), Ethiopia and Jamaica – is the work, or rather the cycle of works, with the greatest presence in the exhibition. Negus is based on a historical event dating back to the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. In 1936, a soldier who had been wounded returned to Vernasca. To celebrate his return, the local community organized a festive but at the same time sinister ritual, burning an effigy of Haile Selassie I in the town square. Haile Selassie I was the last Negus of Ethiopia, and a messianic figure for the Rastafarian cult that had developed in Jamaica during the 1930s. Invernomuto’s project follows an itinerary that is initially biographical, but that expands and develops, linking Vernasca, Ethiopia and Jamaica according to two points of view: certain critical moments in Italy’s colonial history are placed in relation to the symbolism of Rastafarian tradition.
Negus is a cycle in constant development, an ongoing work, an ever-present theme in an itinerary that at certain stages induces the regeneration of the theme itself. It began as a film project, but more recently it has taken a more sculptural form, closer to an installation concept. The works from the latest phase of Negus are presented at this show at Marsèlleria, and they have been compiled into the solo show “I-Ration” curated by Emanuele Guidi, at ar/ge Kunst in Bolzano (2014) and as part of the group show “Glitch. Interferences between art and cinema in Italy” curated by Davide Giannella, PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2014).
THE EXHIBITION ITINERARY
The show develops vertically from bottom to top, according to a sequence of themes. Access to the show is not from the main entrance, but from the door of the boiler room leading to the basement floor, location for the first work presented, a new site-specific installation.
>>> -1 Basement | WONDO GENET
Wondo Genet – or “earthly paradise” in Amharic – is a location near Shashamane, Ethiopia, and it is considered sacred by the Rastafarian religion.
The title of the installation refers to the idea of Eden, but it is also the name of a famous spa resort in Ethiopia. The space is entirely cloaked in reflective sheets and with a cloud of fog above the floor, above which there are lights for indoor cultivation, a video made by Invernomuto on Wondo Genet and the Shashamane community, and an audio installation.
>>> 0 Ground floor | RUATORIA
Ruatoria is in Australia and it is the eastern-most point in the world, the first to be illuminated by sunlight. Here there is a Rasta/Maori community that lives and is awaiting the coming of the Messiah Haile Selassie I.
This space is given a visual focus by a beam of light. It takes up the ground floor of Marsèlleria, and takes the form of a landscape with three sculptures, a metaphorical connection between locations that are a long way apart.
At the end of the room, there is the sculpture Wax, Relax (2011), a wax grotto that gradually melts during the course of the exhibition. This is a monument of popular culture in which there is a reference to a copy of the Lourdes grotto in the church of Vernasca. The work is therefore the copy of a copy, but it has been stripped of its devotional value, even though it retains strong links with religious ritual represented by the process of melting. Invernomuto attempts to create a new, slow ritual, the reconstruction of a landscape (landscape is a central, almost obsessive, aspect of their work). The Vernasca grotto possesses ritual characteristics, but also something artificial and clearly fake, bordering on the grotesque. Invernomuto embraces this meaning by placing it in the “background”, deeply-rooted in the collective imagination, with all its religious symbolism removed. Wax, Relax – in its existence in the form of wax – a material that can be used to generate an infinite number of “copies” – is a work on the concept of a copy: the copy of a copy, of a copy of a Lourdes grotto.
In Zion, Landscape (2014) Invernomuto explores the area of memory and processes of hybridization. The work depicts a monument in the shape of a staircase, installed by the Italian army in Addis Abeba opposite the imperial residence during the Fascist invasion campaign. After the defeat of the occupants, the last emperor of Ethiopia performed a conceptual operation: the fourteen steps symbolizing the years of the regime’s empire were reduced to a pedestal on which a small lion, symbol of Ethiopia, was placed. Invernomuto underlines this gesture of reclamation by placing a climbing plant on the base of the staircase and evoking an exotic perception.
Motherland (2014) is a new sculpture, forming a dialogue with Zion, Landscape. An LCD monitor on the floor becomes the pedestal for a copy of the lion originally placed on the staircase erected by the Fascist regime at Addis Abeba. The monitor displays a video made by Invernomuto at the National Museum of Addis Abeba, whose exhibits include Lucy, the oldest hominid.
Movimenti Versus l’Altro (movement towards the other, 2014) is a collage made by placing three original scarves one on top of the other: one used by the Italians in Italian East Africa, one of the tour operator Club Med, and on from Norwegian Caribbean Lines, a Norwegian company that organizes cruises in Europe and the Caribbean, in particular Jamaica.
>>> 1 First floor | BLACK ARK
Black Ark is the name of the recording studio founded in Kingston, Jamaica, by the dub/reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, and burnt down by Perry himself in 1984, as an act of purification.
The first floor of Marsèlleria presents a setting in motion, with two sculptures and a video.
The first sculpture is Negus (2011), a profiled sheet that on one side bears an airbrushed portrait of Haile Selassie I; the other side has a mirror finish. The sheet rotates continuously, and it is lit by a spotlight that projects its shadow and reflections onto the walls of the hall.
The second sculpture, I-Ration (2014), is a three-pointed star, made in iron and cut at the centre by a flame that lights at regular intervals. Its shape recalls the Mercedes-Benz logo. As documented by a farmer originating from Shashamane later living in Invernomuto, this star was the emblem of Haile Selassie I, and only later did it become the logo for the automotive company, which in exchange supplied public transport vehicles to the city of Addis Abeba.
The video projected on the back wall of the hall, Negus — Lee “Scratch” Perry (2013), documents the ritual staged by Invernomuto with the participation of the Jamaican musician Lee “Scratch” Perry in the town square at Vernasca, the location where an effigy of Haile Selassie I was burnt. Fire, an element in ritual, is strongly present in Negus: Invernomuto uses it to purify Vernasca and its square. In 1983 Perry himself burnt down his own recording studio (Black Ark) on the hills of Kingston as an act of purification of a place contaminated by negative influences. As well as fire, the scene includes a soundsystem (Prince Healer), an effigy of Haile Selassie I and a monument dedicated to the fallen of all wars. Lee Perry moves on this set, completing his ritual.