Notte Bianca at Villa Medici: between immersive performances and participatory installations

On Thursday 17 November Villa Medici hosted the Notte Bianca 2022 to celebrate the work of the sixteen fellows, a resident and a guest artist of the French Academy in Rome.

The gardens of Villa Medici remained open to the public until midnightfor a night walk through the historic spaces of the villa and the installations of the fellows in residence at the French Academy, the perfect opportunity to get to know the artists and their work.

The fellows, of six different nationalities, represent ten artistic disciplines which for the Notte Bianca took the form of installations, performances, concerts and screenings.

THE pensionnaires they are selected each year through a competition open to French-speaking artists, creators and researchers, and have the opportunity to spend eleven months at Villa Medici, starting in September, for a residency of creation, experimentation and research.

The White Night, edited by Xavier Veriniis a welcome event, a first moment in which the fellows offer a taste of their research and their work, proposing interventions that dialogue with the spaces and the essence of the Villa.

Focus of the path is just the dialogue between heritage and contemporary creation. Each of pensionnairesin fact, is linked to a specific place of Villa Medici: under the Loggia of Cleopatra, in the Grand Salon, among the casts of the Niobes of Florence.

The first installation you come across is at the Loggia of Cleopatra. The statue that stands out in the Loggia is that of Venus Cnidia, whose peculiarity is the missing head. On the occasion of the evening, however, the head was reconstructed through a 3D scan thanks to the collaboration between the restorer Hortense de Corneillan and the artist Mounir Ayache.

In the installation, the statue tells itself, retraces its own story, in a parody of the influencers’ way of expressing themselves. It is protected by a wall that resembles a shell and which incorporates Moroccan decorations (Ayache’s country of origin) reinterpreted in a contemporary key.

Person is the installation of Liv ShulmanArgentinian visual artist: a projection in which she herself appears in the form of a distorted avatar, in a narrative that mixes personal obsessions and a sense of humor, representing a delirium that is typical of contemporary society.

Furthermore, during his year at Villa Medici, Schulman will carry out research on the theater of Luigi Pirandello and on the influence that his wife Maria Antonietta Portulano, suffering from mental disorders, had on him.

At the Gipsoteca, the historian of art and architecture Ariane Varela Braga presented his video projection on a plaster sculpture, which was thus covered with a network of contemporary marbles from Brazil, India and Canada, representing the circulation of goods in the globalized world.

His research at Villa Medici focuses precisely on marble, and on the ideological, political, artistic and economic issues that have led to the identification of this material as a symbol, even controversial, of Italian identity.

The search for Lorraine de Sagazan, theater director, focuses on the shortcomings of contemporary justice and its applications, to investigate how art can be part of this dynamic. In its Chamber of Penaltiestherefore, it was possible to stop and share stories of unfinished justice.

Not only art and architecture: Zuri Camille de Souza is the first chef accepted for a culinary residence at Villa Medici, e Tea time it was his gift to the public of the Notte Bianca: a bouquet of herbs for herbal teas that visitors were able to take freely, and which recalls the atmosphere and scents of the gardens of Villa Medici.

Les Fines Fleurs de Pasolini is a filmic essay by the art historian Marion Grebert housed in the Quadrato delle Vigne. The work investigates the prominent position that flowers occupy in Pasolini’s cinema, in which they are charged with a tragic sense often connected to myth and history.

It is a first taste of the broader research work that Grébert will carry out in an essay on Italian visual culture read through the motif of flowers, from the frescoes of Roman villas up to the works of Pasolini.

The researcher Sarah Vanuxem has created a podcast in two acts that traces the sentence “Villa Borghese against Rome”, with which, in 1887, Roman citizens were recognized the right to walk freely within the park of Villa Borghese.

Starting from the case of Villa Borghese, Vanuxem focuses on the movement of common goods in Italy and on the limitation of freedoms in the age of the Anthropocene (the age of the human being who with his activities manages to affect geological processes, the times we are living in now).

Work artist is the installation-performance of the writer and visual artist Francois Durifwho for the entire duration of the event sat at his desk, with his back to the public, engaged in activities related to his practice as an artist and writer, showing himself in the intimacy of his workspace.

The relationship between man, natural landscape and urban context is at the heart of the research carried out by the visual artist Anna Solalwhose project for the residence at Villa Medici, entitled Empire failing (“decadent empire”), involves the creation of a series of collage-works that blend drawing and photography, developed in the time frame of ancient Rome, fascist Rome and today’s Rome.

Imperia bathroomthe work exhibited at the Notte Bianca, was a first taste of the project: a brutally figurative drawing with elements and materials taken from reality, with an almost claustrophobic point of view to represent the isolation of the individual in contemporary society.

The photographer and video maker Yasmina Benabderrahmane presented Excavatea 2014 film in which the subject are hands that dig almost obsessively around an object that is not entirely identifiable, a gesture that can be read as a metaphor for the idea of ​​research.

Benabderrahmane’s project for the residence at Villa Medici focuses on the tradition of carnival and on disguise as a transgression of genres and the imposed order.

Heaven it is the work of the composer Sivan Eldarfeaturing Eleonora Claps as a solo voice, in which voice and sound contribute to the creation of an indefinable atmosphere, questioning the boundaries between matter and form in a slow process of disintegration.

The poetess Laura Vazquez presented a preview of some verses of the work to which he is dedicating himself, Le livre du large et du longwhich will be published in 2023.

Finally, right in the center of the Piazzale di Villa Medici, the participatory installation by the Mexican feminist artist Mónica Meyer has been revived, entitled The drying rackedited by Dorothee Dupuis and to which various female artists have collaborated, including the fellows of Villa Medici.

Starting from a gesture historically associated with women, the action of hanging out the laundry, the public was invited to hang a note with a clip on it with experiences related to violence against women written on it.

After the 2021 edition, which brought together almost 5,000 visitors, the 2022 edition was also a real success with the public, with thousands of visitors lined up since the afternoon.

The French Academy in Rome reconfirms itself as a reality of great value which allows artists to study and work at their best, and the public to get to know its collections and the architectural and landscape heritage of Villa Medici.

Notte Bianca at Villa Medici: between immersive performances and participatory installations