Residency as a reflection on time and waiting: Raf...

Residency as a reflection on time and waiting: Raffaele Di Vaia at Cassero in Poggibonsi

Projects that combine contemporary art and the regeneration of historical and artistic heritage are nothing new, but those that manage to unite different institutional partners, such as the Municipality, Region and associations that start from the bottom are always to be praised. Driven by a not instrumental love for the territory and the community with which they dialogue, they propose activities in the name of discovery and valorization in cultural terms, of life and not exclusively of tourist exploitation.

Raffaele Di Vaia, “La casa del custode”, 2024. Exhibition view, ph Maurizio Sorvillo, courtesy the artist

This is certainly the case with Mied Media, which has been working for years in the context of the Sienese neighborhood and in particular in the town of Poggibonsi, carrying out artistic and literary production and diffusion initiatives. The new challenge is dedicated to the Cassero di Poggibonsi complex, which insists on an extraordinary stratification of historical, archaeological and landscape heritage, with particular attention to the recovered spaces of the medieval structure identified as those of the “caretaker’s house”, on this occasion reopened and given into the custody of an artist. Redevelopment therefore rhymes with a return to attendance, habitation and knowledge for a reinterpretation in a cultural and productive sense which in the first edition of the residency project, started in 2024, was consigned to Raffaele Di Vaia, an artist based in Prato and biographically linked to town of Poggibonsi where he spent his teenage years.

Raffaele Di Vaia, “La casa del custode”, 2024. Exhibition view, ph Maurizio Sorvillo, courtesy the artist

Throughout his stay, the artist had the opportunity to compare his personal experience with the notions and knowledge of some specialists, such as the anthropologist Maria Elisa Dainelli, the physicist Piero Centorrino, the archaeologists who work in the local Archeodromo and the surveyor Marco Mestri. These different narratives on the place were remodeled by Di Vaia who, in the narrow spaces of the Rocca, was able to intertwine different levels of complexity and modulate his proposal to a place so architecturally characterized and to the experience of residence. The title of the exhibition “the caretaker’s house” gives the red thread and the main clue in decoding the various works which, without arriving at a staging, play with the identity of the caretaker, suspended between that of a man in constant waiting, dedicated to the mapping of the archaeological site, that of the spider, which in suspension implements its attack strategy and of the artist himself who during his stay inhabited and modulated his gaze on that expanded horizon and those dark rooms.

Raffaele Di Vaia, “La casa del custode”, 2024. Exhibition view, ph Maurizio Sorvillo, courtesy the artist

Photographs that tell the story of the first explorations of the site, physical and conceptual maps of the fortress, installations, videos once again intertwine Di Vaia’s formal language with the dimension of time and story which becomes a performative and biographical tool in the continuous references to his personal experience and the living experience of the days spent in the role of the “caretaker”. In this continuous alternation of media, the quality and refinement of the photographic works stands out both in terms of the look and in the choices of materials and printing methods. This is the case of the series of five images that describe the approach to space and its functional recovery which passes through the relationship with one’s body, the perceptive and artistic measurement unit of the re-elaboration. The first sense brought into play is therefore the sight, that guides the discovery of the distant horizon and of the darkness that instead enveloped the small rooms not yet equipped with artificial light. Visions that ideally dialogue with a “recovery” in the artist’s archive with the shot that portrays the remains of a possible spider’s banquet, from its trap, the cobweb, to what remains of the prey. Di Vaia proposes a reflection on a place of collective historical and cultural memory which is also a Kafkaesque novel, with multiple identities and subjects that intertwine and trigger new stories and germinations, like the words of the artist who often makes himself available at the weekend to accompany anyone who wants to discover the “caretaker’s house”.

Serena Trinchero


Raffaele Di Vaia. La casa del custode
23/03 – 30/06/2024
Cassero delle Fortezze di Poggio Imperiale, Poggibonsi (SI)


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