THE FOUNDLING by Terry Smith
Collaboration between Terry Smith, me, Mauro Sambo, Giorgio di Battisti, Samantha Cinquini and Michaela Leonardi.
PERFORMED AT CA`PESARO, THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART in VENICE
Venice Performance Art Week
The live art exhibition project dedicated to contemporary performance art will showcase in its second edition works of over 50 international performance artists from around the globe, some of which are presented in cooperation with cultural institutions and foundations. Pioneers of this art discipline will exhibit alongside established and emerging artists, reflecting influences and current tendencies in the field. The project consists of a vibrant program of live performances, installations, photographic and video documentation, conferences, daily round tables talks, a Study Room, a Movie Room and meetings with the participating artists, researchers and curators. For the second edition with the focus “Ritual Body - Political Body” the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK 2014 aims to investigate a wide range of concepts such as: art as a space for civil negotiation where human ethical values are the core; interconnectivity; political confrontation; utopia; ecological issues; social and individual conflicts and responsibilities, and how the self relates to them, at the same time concentrating on the fact that the presence of the human beings in this world is always more than a temporary condition. The communication that can be triggered between artists and the audience is an essential element. The topics addressed during the week will relate to the need to look at social relations and the lives of individuals with greater care. Due to the specificity of the theme of this second edition “Ritual Body - Political Body”, the live performances and works on display will also seek to provide reflection and further considerations on how to find meaningful mechanisms to foster positive change through contemporary art and culture in a clearly vital way. The VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK wishes to enrich the highly renowned art scene in Venice with the audacious art form of performance art. information Ticket: consulta il sito dell'evento Visit the website organizers Fondazione Musei Civici Veneziani (Visit the website) Università Iuav di Venezia (Visit the website) Venice International Performance Art Week (Visit the website)
THE FOUNDLING performed at CA´PESARO, The Museum of Modern Art in Venice
PIECE FOR THE CAST OUT, REST FOR THE LOST © photo by: Monika Sobczak | Terry Smith in collaboration with Marita Isobel Solberg, The Foundling. Venice International Performance Art Week at Ca'Pesaro - Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia (2014) text by Karla Horvat Crnogaj red rover red rover may I cross over? only if you are wearing white maybe if you are wearing red not if you are wearing black If you are filming scenes in a street, with only the legs of the passersby in the frame, the only faces that you are going to see are the ones from the children. Until you spot the child, the choice of the framing is puzzling for the observer, who then gets caught in the expression of a boy who is being led through busy city streets. These scenes followed the quoted verses, both projected on a museum’s ancient walls, starts the multi disciplinary performance The Foundling of the British artist Terry Smith in a special event of the ART WEEK held at Ca'Pesaro - Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Sequences of music, video text and live performance overlap each other in a seemingly hermetic correlations, until those, just as the framing of the first video sequence, starts to make sense, as the member of the audience follow hints made of words, sounds and images that lead him through the layered story of the lost and the cast out. In a play of modern and historical, from classical music scores to electronically induced rhythms, over images of modern night scenes of cities and historically burdened sites, to disturbing undertones of awaiting peril in children’s plays, Smith forms a tale of Dickensian presentation of the vulnerability of childhood, and children’s exposure to determination by their social context. The abandoned child in the title is also a reference to the Foundling Museum (the work was primarily commissioned in a form of a video and sound installation by Gill Hedley for the Foundling Museum’s contemporary art program), institution dedicated to the history of The Foundling Hospital, founded in 1741 in London by the philanthropist Thomas Coram. The word hospital in its name indicates not medical services, but rather the offered hospitality for abandoned children. The play with the terms of lost and found woven into the structure of the performance is also an allegory of the birth tokens a lot of the abandoned children were left with – to leave the parent the insurance that they can later identify their child, if they ever look out for him. It is almost like an office for lost and found things, Terry told me afterwards, with an obvious acknowledgment of the tragic content of the chosen metaphor. The performance, he also points out, is much about collaboration. The video images projected on three walls are accompanied by musical scores of Atari Mauri, live musical performance of two Italian musicians, Giorgio de Battisti and Mauro Sambo on violin and saxophone, the Norwegian singer Marita Isobel Solberg, as well as a live performance of two young performers, Micaela Leonardi and Samanta Cinquini, who developed a performance within the performance, titled Mirror, Mirror in which they face each other in a series of movements resembling children in play, like the Red Rover verse that introduced the performance are rooted in the British 19th-century children’s group game. As the images alter in the video, the sounds coming from the speakers change to a rhythmic score. The forest, the theme of the new chapter of the performance introduced with images of tree branches and roots, looms over the performers and the audience as the dark forbidden place that calls out to be explored but hides unnamed dangers. The two performers circle around the room, showing to the audience the most loathed sign of the childhood – an index finger that is waving left and right, the movement that forbids. Underlined with sounds resembling a pouring rain, the title of the next chapter appears, “Cross Bones,” the original name for a burial ground in south London, called the “Single Woman’s churchyard“ in historical documents dating from the 16th century, where “the single woman” is a euphemism for prostitutes, and which was by the end of the 18th century used as a cemetery for the poor. A plaque is placed on the cemetery stating that locals have created a memorial shrine, with the inscription “The Outcast dead R.I.P.,“ and the graveyard gates are decorated with messages, ribbons, flowers and other tokens, shown in a slideshow of photographs taken by night, while the eerie vocals of Marita Isobel Solberg sing the story of a lost girl in a snow, which is looking for home, “waiting for her mother caring and warm.“ London finds its counterpart in the performance in Venice – these are the birth towns of two musicians, Handel and Vivaldi, whose scores Smith deconstructs in his work. Handel himself was also closely connected to the Foundling hospital, where he used to perform annual benefit concerts. Venice, the birth place of Vivaldi, is introduced to the performance with night scenes from mostly empty streets and bridges, accompanied with deep-bassed roaring coming from the speakers and the dance of the violin and saxophone sounds, bouncing from the walls, among the enchanted audience. When I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch The images of another part of London, mentioned in a popular nursery rhyme and a children’s singing game announce the last chapter, bearing the name of a neighbourhood, whose original name after a legend was “Shore’s Ditch”, after the mistress of Edward IV, Jane Shore, who allegedly died or has been buried in a ditch around that area. The social component of this chapter is illustrated in the text written and recited by Mel Gooding, art critic, writer and exhibition organizer – “The poor and the drunkards curse every night, and their children are to misery born.“ Although for a moment prophesying the arrival of a modern Orpheus – “The blackening city has cleaned up its act somewhat, but up from the underground arrives one with a guitar or a bagpipe, with a song in his throat and hope in his heart.“ Gooding still soon returns to a more ominous tone that characterizes the overall atmosphere of the performance, abridging to the audience member the last hope for a more optimistic, or at least cathartic closure. Quoting the burial song from Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline, sung by two boys over the dead body of another boy, he echoes the central motif of the Terry Smith’s work: Golden lads and lasses must like chimney-sweepers come to dust. Those are the found and those are the lost. Terry Smith, The Foundling (2014) December 18, 2014 Venice International Performance Art Week at Ca'Pesaro - Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia