Between the several Italian reality that are entering the electronic and contemporary art world, this year Perugia hosted some events that deserve particular attention. Performance, workshop, interactive environment, exhibitions, competitions, concerts, meetings, festivals: this was “Le arti in città“, that showed between its protagonists Saul Saguatti, Murcof, Giovanni Sollima and Isabella Bordoni.
The project of Isabella Bordoni together with Luca Berardi and Angelo Benedetti for “Le arti in città” in Perugia developed in three parts. Public spaces such as escalators and elevators played the recording of the conference “Simplicity and Chaos” by John Cage, held in 1992, and elaborated as poetry to build a soundscape. A workshop f a week collected and edited audio-video material about the city and personal experiences of every participant, realizing an installation inserted in the context of the conclusive performance. The final event has seen the poetical-performance exhibition of Isabella Bordoni, alternated to the music of the violoncellist Ulrike Brand, at the Rocca Paolina.
Isabella Bordoni is a poet, director and actress. Her interest is for acoustic and visual events, for technologies sensible to memory and language and for communication systems. Theatre, radio, performance and media are the contexts she enjoy the most. From the middle 80’s, she works in the north Europe, particularly inside the research centers of the new technologies applied to arts, of Linz, Graz, Wien and in Germany. From 1985 to 2000 she’s fundamental part of Giardini Pensili, Theatre Company of particular relevance in technology and scenic arts ambit. She teaches Videoart and Direction/Dramaturgy at the Beaux Arts Academy in Rimini and collaborates as professor at the Digital Environment Design master at the NABA in Milan .
Alessio Chierico: In your artistic research you’re now interested in creating poetical environment that mix with the space: its structure, its history and people that pass or live there. Word, voice, sound and scene are the elements on which you focalize your work. Which kind of relation do you design between these elements and the space that host your creations?
Isabella Bordoni: Every artistical research is founded on a place, no matter if a theatre scene or a space limited to an action, a gesture, to one or more body, or the one open and unpredictable of the public space. In this last case the work on spaces contains more incognitos, some of which are part of the relation system that is created between event and user, inside the mechanism sensible to the comprehension and the answer. Operations of this kind are a real mystery.
I use calling poetry.scapes a permanent project that includes events realized on different scales, sometime realized with interactive technologies. It’s about installations or events that create poetic proximity with places. Approaching a position or experience it’s like taking a risk, it is elaborating spaces of knowledge where our experience doesn’t arrive. There are anyway some rules given by the experience, which honesty is the first one. You cannot bluff what exists. The honesty I’m talking about is an internship, a measure of our knowledge, maybe even a geometric condition that gives shapes a space. Therefore, I think it’s all about creating relations between identities, made of “emotional relationships”. And the space turn into an emotional, contradictory, exigent and hence “real” map. It is a space of truth exposed to knowledge. You say, “space that host creation”, and it is correct because every space is hospitable. The events I create are an experience that reciprocally situates and de-situates bodies and territories. Poetry has the possibility to con/fuse and understand the opposites. (N.O.T.: in Italian ‘con’ means with)
Alessio Chierico: Defining and collocating your art, you talk about “Terzo Paesaggio” as refuge for diversity. Which particular importance does this location own? Which poetical interests can it express?
Isabella Bordoni: I’m interested in the concept of “third”. Third is, some way, the unexpected relation space that you give your work where dualism meanings divide. Third subject or object in a relation that opens to dualism of collectivity and that brakes a predictable equilibrium or dialectic. It is the illness inside a wealth body; it is the immigrant inside the State; it is the trauma inside the existence; it is the doubt inside certainties; it is the question that goes beyond the answers.
All disturbing elements that delete the I from the ego and make it a wandering subject. But the idea of the “Third” is also the contrary of each of these elements. Somewhere there’s a “yes” to listen to. This is the unexpected. The unexpected is the “yes” of a defeat that is not slavery but rather new look. When you don’t search for it, it arrives. It is the neuter more than the masculine and feminine, aversive creature that contains chains and cuttings, it’s a “space of relation”, subjected but not submitted.
Third passage echoes Third State , a space that doesn’t express power or submission to power. So I’m interested in thinking a certain passage as third place, between light and shadow. I got a debt for this with a little book, “Manifesto of the Third Passage” by Gilles Clément, which talks about confused and no-named spaces. Reading it, I understood the passage/territory Clément states as Third is exactly the artistic space I tend to. That’s probably the reason why during the years I renounced to names, categories, definitions to inhabit border and passage zones.
Alessio Chierico: I find interesting the conception of “everywhere-place”, almost a contraposition or better a different prospective than the one proposed by “no-place”. The “no-place” has been one of the characteristic symbols of the post-modern culture; we could talk about the sampling culture in art, the usage of preexisting forms. Can the concept of “everywhere-place”, and the poetical potentialities of the environment, be considered as presage of the passage to a creative re-evaluation inside the contemporary context?
Isabella Bordoni: The concept of no-place first, and then the super-place and sub-place, are fundamental to understand the city, the society the contemporary art. In this prospective, the interpretations of Marc Augé, but also Mike Davies and Foucalult, took place where the city is exposed, where the urban body becomes mass, where the human body turns into exposition and consumerism place. Where the space completes itself because of an excess of representation. Hotels, malls, cinemas are plenty of social prospective sense. Understand them, make us understand the exigencies of the nowadays life. I’m interested most of all by another prospective that I named “poetic citizenship”, where the two terms, citizenship and poetic, move unite and disunite, in a common space of obsolescence. Old places are the forgotten residencies, the little memories and the look to the childhood as passage and transformation place. They conserve the memory of their past as foreshadow of the future, as promise, as life triumph. Recognize them means giving back the laws of the original life to every place. A poetic everywhere. So with “everywhere-place” I mean an undefined and inalienable time-space.
Alessio Chierico: Inside the environment themes, do you think a cyberspace such as the Internet has potential poetic qualities as every physical space? Can it suggest the construction of a poetry.scape?
Isabella Bordoni: I’m very connected to the Net and in general I’m very interested to communication systems. Poetic is everywhere, but rarely show up. It is a slow work it contains a utopia. Benjamin says that “The memory, similar to ultraviolet rays, indicates to everyone inside the life book an annotation that, invisible, as prophecy, interpret the text”. The memory, the annotation, the invisible I say that sometime my work breathe inside the folds of the speech. I know I’m part of a minority thought. I adore conducting the art in a state of suspension and amazement. This process asks to live a real experience of senses, but also describes an interior scene, being in the confusion, being lost. This way sensible territories are investigated and reveal their own enigma. If Internet is interpreted as third place, the answer is yes; it is possible to go by in this third place of the elsewhere. By the way, it is the Net itself that allows the remote fruition, wanderer, multi-directional and by the shared authorial. Besides, I got the impression that the space of the Net is nowadays interpreted as here, as immediate and as exposed. So it is possible to build poetic platform on the Internet, tools ready to compose poetry.scapes, provided that here will be mediated with there.
Alessio Chierico: How do you see technologies and media related to arts with antique origins as poetry and theatre? Which is their role inside your creation? Are they considered following an aesthetic worthiness or is there intent to investigate inside those languages as well?
Isabella Bordoni: Writing has been my First creative thing I made in my youth. I then grew in the ambit of North European research, relating immediately artistic projects with communication technologies. I talk about projects such as ” La Natura ama nascondersi” of ’92, “Realtime” of ’93, “Lost Memories” of ’94, “Horizontal Radio” of ’95 or “Sphil” of ’96, collective projects that saw me protagonists with others, because often the physical world interfaced the Net. I had the dramaturgic responsibility of the project, I had to create a poetical texture between the word, the scene and the media. I lived the Italian theatre from the middle 80’s, following the path opened with the multi-disciplines art. My theatre experience developed spontaneously in the reciprocal trespassing of languages, arts and technologies. I can’t think about a real distinction between aesthetic worthiness and the investigation of the language, as I don’t think a language can exist without aesthetic.
Alessio Chierico: The body is an essential expressive element in performance and theatre areas. Which conditions does the technologic development impose in relation with body? Which characters can the man-machine interface originate?
Isabella Bordoni: When we talk about landscape/territories/scenes, we inevitably find a corporal place. The body is a glorious, changeable machine, which already contains its interface, its communicative prosthesis: the language. In my performance and writing experience I desired putting on scene an athletic but also sacred body-language. As home and intruder, on one side the body-language is quiet and contemplative, on the other side kinetic and viral. Obviously it is not about value that contradict, but once again about opening the conflict that third places own, about resonance and invisibility. I think that technology brings fantastic. Not all the technology, but a technology that honor the man childhood, its poetical memory. Therefore, a childish, imprudent, dreaming technology.
Alessio Chierico: “Different nature”, name of the workshop you directed, refers to multiple stratifications of Perugia , which see different époques enter the same environment. And different were the research areas that you investigated: poetry and landscape, childhood and time. Does a natural conceptual relation exist between time and experience of a city and those of a person? Which emotional similarities link poetry of the landscape/place to the poetry of the person?
Isabella Bordoni: Everything exists inside the knowledge. Person and world, macro and micro-cosmos enter one in the other, deeping the grill of the reciprocal looks. I call “look”, the sensitivity the world has toward the world. Absolutely, having a time and geography different to each other makes us who we are. You know, this is the invisible map we were talking about. I dedicated a Borges poem to this project: “ ”
Alessio Chierico: In your soundscape of public environment you worked using the technical structure that was already present, employing institutional systems with a certain pervading degree. Is there intent in that, or did you used those audio instruments only to “talk with the place voice”?
Isabella Bordoni: An interesting aspect of the soundscape of Perugia , inside and outside the Rocca Paolina, was the relation with a location that, as you said before, contains so many historical stratifications. The Roman and Etrurian history, the medieval and modern, and the contemporary one are the sign of the plural nature of this city. And then, the today design multi-ethnic centers and peripheries. It’s been a bet to work “with” the Rocca Paolina, as the space was so fascinating, but also so difficult, that it was like working with a real body. Inside the Rocca antique streets and squares of the medieval Perugia are found, but lifts and escalators turn this place into something more and more controversial and beautiful, connecting the low part of the city with the high part from 1982. Suddenly, when you step inside it, as stranger, you think about “Parigi capital of the 19 th Century” by Benjamin, you think about the technical age, about the “passage”, about the mutations of the first industrial revolution, you fall in a temporal “gap” of enormous strength.
You can easily understand how the “flow” idea at the conceptual base of the section managed by Moreno Barboni, where “Diverse Nature” has been hosted, perfectly fit the environment. It’s been all in one, architectonic conformation, its use as infrastructure, its technical equipment. Moreover, the re-semantic work has been interesting as well, if you think the music centre of the entire mechanic transportation system, normally used for service announcements, alarms, and so on, has been used to create a poetic nerve, starting from John Cage work.
The June 23 rd of 1992 John Cage presented the conference “Simplicity and Chaos” in Perugia , invited by Quaderni Perugini di Musica Contemporanea. I was there, expecting for my daughter that would have been born in a while. I often thought about that brief but intense meeting and the phrase “everything will be good” and a cuddle. Fifteen years later, the recording, of what would have been for Cage his last travel to Italy a few months before his death, came back in the city as poetic pulsation. With those materials mixed with my voice and words I desired giving testimony and gift. So we’re back to those “affective relations” we were talking at the beginning.