Last July 16 in Montelupo, a small village near Florence nestled between the large vineyards and dense woods of the Valdarno, it happened that the immaterial found form and substance among the placid hills of this strip of land. Everything happened from evening to dawn on the occasion of Ceramica OFF, an urban festival dedicated to culture, art and crafts, and during which the performance “Sogno 4: Alba Lunare” by Reverie (Vinci, 1994) was also brought to life.
The artist who in her long practice has created an indissoluble union between life, art and words, works incessantly through the formalization of futuristic actions, sculptures, installations, videos and architectures, an attitude that constantly pushes Reverie beyond all experimental, verbal, sound, physical and gestural limits. An intense poetic, material and conceptual construction makes the artist’s work ethereal, refined and spiritual workmanship. That of Reverie is a relational process in continuous becoming elaborated together with the processing of several media such as bronze, silk, glass, mirrors and photography. All the operations carried out by her in the most important Italian museums and institutions have a total value, in the Wagnerian sense ever since in the spaces of the Fondazione VOLUME! in Roma Reverie performed “Sogno 1: l’archetipo del sé”.
With her latest performance, which originates from a nightmare, the artist transforms the nocturnal anxieties into an act of sharing, a poetic lyric linked to a moment of rebirth, a lucid dream that becomes an antidote against new evils of contemporaneity. Reverie tells us how she destroyed and rebuilt the Moon and what the lunar sunrise means to her
Giuseppe Amedeo Arnesano: How did you live this experience in the land of your “artistic-operate”?
Reverie: This performance is part of a site-specific project created for Montelupo, which is a place to which I am very attached because it allows me to give body to my imaginations through mine “oggetti da sogno”. When I was asked to participate in Ceramica OFF, a festival curated by curious, dynamic and attentive people, I was happy to be able to dedicate an artwork to this land.
I chose a day that coincides with the anniversary of the moonlanding and, despite 90% of sure rain, the clouds thinned out and the moon itself was present in the audience that night
Why did you destroy and rebuild the moon in “Sogno 4: alba lunare”?
The “lunar dawn” represents for me the perfect moment of the day and of maximum reflection: it is linked to my nocturnal alarms when after a slow breakfast I follow the transformations of the sky before sunrise, and I meet the moon. For this performance, I wanted to narrate a common catastrophic moment to exorcise it together: I imagined the destruction of the moon and its reconstruction. When you dream of the violent crumbling of a planet, it means that you are experiencing a period of great stress and such has been the recent and current one for all of us. I thought it was important for everyone to ideally be reborn. Starting from the lunar ray in proportion, I have thus built 35 raw earth tiles (30 x 30 cm each) made by hand. I placed them in the square of the Fornace Cioni Alderighi, heart of the Tuscan event, and at 10 pm, dressed as contemporary Selene complete with ceramic horns, I violently destroyed them and then reassembled them in a lighthouse (with a diameter of 3.476 cm proportion): this was the “new” moon. The only request to the public was absolute silence. The performance was lightning-fast unlike my usual long-running projects, from a maximum of three days to a minimum of twelve hours; and as always happens it will not end here: the synthesis artwork will be made starting from those colored and baked fragments that will be part of the work that will be acquired from the collection of the Museo della Ceramica di Montelupo and for this too I am happy and grateful to the wonderful women who believed in my dream.
From the dreamlike vision of performance to the materiality of ceramics. How do these souls coexist in you, the spiritual one and that of doing, and what are the origins of the sculptural formalization in your “oggetti da sogno”?
In general, the “oggetti da sogno” are works unrelated to my performance cycle. In fact, these are elements that really appear to me during the dream-moments, from daydreams to nocturnal ones to nightmares and guided dreams, and to which I decide to give life. I started in 2018 by choosing ceramic precisely for its fragile strength and light intensity in order to be able to concretely give body to something that until recently was intangible. The former was inspired by the leaves of the lotus and the Judas trees, and I made them with pure gold and various colors: I imagined those leaves that spoke to my ear just like a shell and the sound of the sea; I then continued with emerald wombs, born from a nightmare in which I relived abuses suffered; tears, ouroboros… I could say that all the “oggetti da sogno” (they all have the same title) are an intimate branch of my social and collective production. At the same time I recognize that these too are born from my body but are directed towards everyone’s.
In “Sogno 3: la camera degli specchi”, staged last June during the FOG festival at the Triennale Milano Teatro, you were a single entity and at the same multiple, a reflected image, a form in motion and without a face. For Lacan, the concept of the other is an image that alienates, also perceived as a therapy for the sense of self. What is your relationship with the image in the mirror and how do you live the experience of action?
The perceptions of others often tell about us. They are our closest mirrors, perhaps the ones we pay the most attention to. But are we used to being alone with our image? “Sogno 3” was a performance born two years ago and which initially involved the creation not of “a room all for” the viewer but of a real labyrinth of mirrors for an expanded dynamism to discover the self. Given the circumstances experienced, I stopped to reflect, and I realized that perhaps almost no one had really taken the time and space to get to know each other inside and outside the mirror. In this way, I wanted to overturn the project, and give the public the opportunity to take the same journey that I had planned from the beginning but to experience it alone with all of their selves in a circumscribed place through a dynamism that is above all interior as well as spatial. My presence was thus only a voice, an invisible and attentive guide. I claimed to be their “dream observer”, just like in geometry when the presence of an external point that “observes” others proves their intrinsic existence, or the observer who creates reality in quantum physics … Talking about my personal relationship with the reflected image I would like to summarize it in one word but I can’t. In fact, a little over a hundred days ago I started a “diary of mirrors” that I will carry on for at least a year. Every day I reflect and write down what I see. Whatever I see, as I see it and I never censor myself.
In this regard, are your actions a form of spiritual and at the same time bodily therapy?
I married Arte and I dedicate every day of my existence to her in purity. I absolutely do not think it is a form of medicine for the spirit or the body; in fact, I do not believe it has a value neither linked to meditation nor to science. It is not even a creed and I say it with absolute conviction, even though I had dedicated my previous cycle of production to the “Sacramenti Atei”. Art is art, she is a person with his own identity, she is a presence with which many relate; for me she is the woman of my life.
In art, the theme of the mask is always current. For Nietzsche man is an actor who by deception agrees to the rules of the outside world, while in Pirandello the mask is awareness, identity and the desire to come out into the open, wishing and achieving freedom. During the performance are you looking for liberation, catharsis or do you flee from the sunlight, therefore from the truth?
In the Japanese Nō Theater there is a ceremony that allows the actor to enter the character: in the hall of mirrors, kagami-no-ma, he erases his emotions and wears the mask and its archetype. We often see images of us frozen in time. The mirror does not show our inner changes and the risk is to stop looking at ourselves as if for an omen of death: ideally cover all the mirrors, thus moving away for fear of illness, pain, death. Behind the mask is the mirror, from which the real face shines through. Performance for me is a life shared with the public. This is why it is truth and everything happens as it should happen without preconceptions, limits or fictions. If the catharsis occurs, it is collective and my body is only a medium for the realization of these actions that always represent the community involved and the global sensitivity. However, I do not deny that the performances can also lead to a personal liberation on the part of the artist. I had never written it publicly but this is what happened to me for the “Wedding” in 2016. From that moment on I was reborn. But always from that moment I no longer cared about my single body but about the collective one. With the public we are one thing: I do not exist despite the fact that sometimes my role is apparently the main one. The subject is the spectator and the world he represents: an active mirror of society that moves my body-voice-being like a puppet with strings. We are connected without the possibility of cutting out: after all, the performance is in the present, Art is in the present and I really care about the actuality of the artwork.
Giuseppe Amedeo Arnesano
For all the images: Reverie, Sogno 4: alba lunare, Ceramica OFF, Montelupo Fiorentino, 16 luglio 2021, photo L. Mugri, courtesy the artist
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