Homage to the homelands: “1698/t-t”

Homage to the homelands: “1698/t-t”

Until Tuesday 20th December, the Brodbeck Foundation, Catania, will host the final exhibition of the artist residency project between Italy and Switzerland, “1698/t-t”, conceived by Valeria Caflisch and curated by Valentina Barbagallo and Philippe Clerc.

The artistic couples of the artists in residency. From left: Marcella Barone – Christiane Hamacher, Gianluca Lombardo – Ivo Vonlanthen, Alessandra Schilirò – Primula, Francesco Balsamo – Isabelle Pilloud. Ph. Luca Guarneri, courtesy Valeria Caflish

The Brodbeck Foundation was born in 2007 thanks to the will of Paolo Brodbeck and came to life in a difficult reality within the city of Catania, that of the San Cristoforo district. From the very beginning the idea at the base of the Foundation was to believe and trust the social value of art and the capacity that it has in modifying and improving the quality of life of the area in which it came to life. The Foundation, located within a post-industrial complex, is spread over an area of ​​about 6,000 square meters, in a late 19th-century structure, which over the years has been used for various functions: production of licorice, processing of dried fruit, a military garrison during the Second World War, and finally, an agricultural and carpentry consortium. Today, of the available space, approximately 600 square meters have been renovated and destined for spaces for temporary exhibitions, residences and design workshops. Thanks to these possibilities, the artists who are involved by the Foundation can produce and exhibit the works at the end of the residency period and, furthermore, there is a program of activities which, through site specific projects, aims at involving the social, cultural and artistic reality in Catania and Sicily.

Meeting at the Brodbeck Foundation amid the eight artists, the curators Valentina Barbagallo and Philippe Clerc and the graphic Sofia De Grazia. Ph. Luca Guarneri, courtesy Valeria Caflish

1698/t-t” is a project organized in two residential modules, which involves four Swiss artists – Isabelle Pilloud, Christiane Hamacher, Ivo Vonlanthen and Primula – together with Italy and the eight artists Francesco Balsamo, Marcella Barone, Gianluca Lombardo, Alessandra Schilirò. The eight artists involved in the project found themselves working in pairs of mixed nationalities, both remotely and in presence, for three years. In addition to the work of the couples, the program also included the involvement and collaboration of external figures, who allowed continuous mutations to the project, until it reached its conclusion. A fundamental part were the moments related to the artist residencies: at the end of each of them a flash expo was organized in the host city, which saw the confrontation amid the “actors” of the project: the artists, the creator and the curators, institutions and citizens, that received the project, allowing the artists to understand what the external impressions of those who observe and do not live the experience firsthand were.

Gianluca Lombardo – Ivo Vonlanthen, “Untitled”, 2021-2022. Ph. Luca Guarneri, courtesy Valeria Caflish

Valeria Caflish, the creator of the project, who divides her time between Catania, the city where she was born and raised, and Fribourg, the Swiss city that adopted her as an adult, explains this project by starting from her experience, from what the search for her own identity is, from how she can create a relationship between her two “homelands”, starting from the 1690 km that separate Italy from Switzerland. Caflish, with “1698/t-t”, tried to involve the artists by making them carry out cross experiences through their collaboration. The eight participating artists, who later became four binomials, had to open up to each other, taking on the responsibility of their partner and trusting them. The first approach among the eight took place thanks to Matchingplattform, a form of art-tinder, thanks to which the creator was able to play “the role of an algorithm that sees, regulates and connects everything”. After this first meeting, once the couples were formed, they started working independently without having to relate to the platform or the rest of the group.

Alessandra Schilirò – Primula, “Untitled”, 2021-2022. Ph. Luca Guarneri, courtesy Valeria Caflish

The project also comported a meeting with didactic purposes, presented on 26th October in the Aula Magna of the Academy of Fine Arts in Catania. The talk was moderated by the curator of the exhibition, Valentina Barbagallo, and the focus of it was around the theme of the artist residency and the importance of the cultural exchange that allows to connect the center and the suburbs, in which took part also: Director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Catania, Gianni Latino; Valeria Caflisch; artistic director of the Brodbeck Foundation, Gianluca Collica; freelance researcher, curator and author, lecturer in art theory at the Universities of the Arts in Zurich, Constance and Bern, Sibylle Omlin; sociologist and professor of sociology at the University of Catania, Guido Nicolosi; graphic designer of the catalog Sofia Di Grazia; together with the eight artists protagonists of the project.


AA.VV., 1698/t-t
Artistic project curated by Valeria Caflisch
Final exhibition curated by Valentina Barbagallo
With the support of Fondazione Brodbeck
22/10/2022 – 20/12/2022
Fondazione Brodbeck
Via Gramignani 93, Catania


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