Residents: Abhishek Khedekar, Carly Breame, Teresa Kittler, Cecilia Ceccherini, Alberto Valz Gris, Daniela Ruiz Moreno, Joshua Leon, jocjonjosch
For our final session of 2022, we welcomed Abhishek Khedekar (b.1991, Dapoli, India), winner of the inaugural Mahler & LeWitt Studios / Loose Joints residency and book prize ‘Publishing Performance’, supported by Webber. The award offers a residency and book publishing opportunity for a project focussing on performance and photography. Abhishek developed his project Tamasha, an experimental docu-fiction following a troupe of artists, established in the 1800s, who live and perform nomadically across the state of Maharashtra in India.
Abhishek uses archival material as well as documentary photography – inviting collaboration from his subjects and using collage techniques – to give voice to this often-discriminated group through experimental and surreal visual narratives, siting the traditions of the Tamasha in the realities of modern India.
At his Open Studio event, pictured below, Abhishek presented an installation inspired by his current edit of the forthcoming book. Across the gallery, an audio clip pealed out on repeat – the sound of the Tamasha master of ceremonies driving through a village and announcing, in shrill a capella, the evening’s performance.
This session saw the beginning of our Materia program – a multi-year, multi-disciplinary project bringing together artists, writers, scientists, geographers, materials designers, architects, and theorists. With a macro lens, scanning pre-history to futures studies, Materia aims to map, across time and diverse local geographies, the industrial, agricultural and cultural production of the Valle Umbra, with particular reference to histories of materials and their extraction.
Materia asks how we might reconsider our relationship to the environment by changing the materials we use and our attitudes to production and consumption.
The first residents were: Carly Breame, Teresa Kittler, Cecilia Ceccherini, Alberto Valz Gris, Daniela Ruiz Moreno, Joshua Leon. Aspects of the Materia project will be presented in the Festival dei Due Mondi in 2024.
Working collaboratively, geographer Dr Alberto Valz Gris and artist Cecilia Ceccherini focussed their research for the Materia program on histories of water usage in the Valle Umbra.
Political ecology describes water as a multiform and dynamic assemblage of both humans and nonhumans, of bodies and machines, with both technical and social elements. This reality is best captured by the term ‘hydrosocial territories’.
For UMRU: FRAGMENTS FROM THE HYDROSOCIAL CYCLE OF THE VALLE UMBRA, Cecilia and Alberto have selected a number of case studies which illustrate the complex hydrosocial histories of the region. These diverse studies include research on local water mythologies (specifically St. George and the dragon, who dried up swamps with his breath), contested water sources used for the commercial bottling of drinking water, and the survival of a rare mountain shrimp in the Sibillini Mountains. As part of the project, Cecilia is weaving a large-scale tiled map whose interconnecting symbols will be used as an abstract key to access the studies and their related issues. The studies will be written up by Alberto, his texts taking a semi-diaristic mode.
UMRU: lavori in corso, Alberto Valz Gris e Cecilia Ceccherini.
Lavori in corso: una tessera della mappa idrosociale.
UMRU: designs for the woven, tiled map.
UMRU: una pubblicazione di Open Studios che include i testi di Alberto.
Art historian Teresa Kittler is participating in Materia, contributing to a publication which will draw together various aspects of the project.
Teresa’s current research examines post-war Italian art through the lens of habitat. This ecological concept, which encompassed models of both individual and collective dwelling, gained currency in the immediate post-war period, signalling a new approach to the environment. The project asks how questions of habitation, ecology, landscape and temporality, and the availability of new and highly various synthetic and industrially produced materials shifted the parameters of artistic practice, visual culture, and art criticism.
CARLY BREAME: DINING IN THE VALLE UMBRA – TERRA E VINO
Ceramicist, materials designer and researcher Carly Breame joined the Materia program in partnership with the University of the Arts, Art for the Environment residency initiative. Carly began her residency asking, ‘How can the dining table – specifically tableware – represent the material culture of Spoleto and the surrounding region? How can the landscape be reflected in the experience of dining?’
Initially Carly investigated the geological landscape of Umbria, examining and sourcing accessible clay deposits exposed in riverbeds, landslides and quarries. The largest clay source came from a quarry in Marsciano producing roof tiles. The sheer scale of the quarry drew attention to the environmental impact that the extraction of materials such as clay have on the landscape, particularly when processed as products for our built environment. Creating knowledge around materials, by tracing their extraction and understanding their impact on the environment, is at the centre of her project.
In Umbria, fertile land is predominantly used for vineyards and olive groves. Carly incorporated various local ashes as well as by-products from the wine-making process – grape skins and stems – in her ceramic glazes. Using the locally sourced clay and glaze ingredients, she produced several prototype utensils in collaboration with the Deruta-based master potter Fabio Veschini. The designs reflect the important regional ceramic traditions.
Filling the utensils with food, Carly said, ‘The Open Studio event is an invitation to gather around the dining table, to eat and drink from utensils which materially represent the Valle Umbra, and to engage in conversations around the materials we use day to day.’
Glaze tests using locally sourced materials.
Materials research presented at Carly's Open Studio event.
Carly sourcing clay.
The roof tile quarry at Marsciano.
Carly with guests at her Open Studio event.
THE TREE THAT BURNS – JOSHUA LEON AND DANIELA RUIZ MORENO
We were also joined by artist Joshua Leon and curator Daniela Ruiz Moreno, whose project The tree that burns focusses on olive tree farming in Umbria and the cultural significance of olive tree production through social, economic and political realities. As part of the project, they will cultivate abandoned olive trees in the local area and use the harvest for lamp oil which will burn in lamps placed across Spoleto during the Festival dei Due Mondi.
Finally, in the Torre Bonomo we hosted the collective jocjonjosch. Their work, which includes performances, sculptures, paintings, photographs and videos, are expressesions of the world they experience, specifically a world shaped by their relationships with others and with each other.
Recently these relationships have been expressed through their c0llaborative photographic paintings in which jocjonjosch manipulate the photographic process by wrapping the paper around their bodies whilst exposing it to light, or by scratching the surface from the print.
Their processes and techniques are often conflicted and result in uncertain resolutions, which bring into question distinctions made between oppositions like production and destruction, efficiency and waste, purposiveness and pointlessness. jocjonjosch will be developing a new project with us over the next two years.
The Neon Hieroglyph
Tai Shani’s The Neon Hieroglyph at Somerset House, London.
Thank you for following our work. We will be in touch over the winter months with updates on events and residencies. Wishing you all the very best,