FONDAZIONE IN BETWEEN ART FILM
An exhibition conceived and produced by Fondazione In Between Art Film with Karimah Ashadu, Jonathas de Andrade, Aziz Hazara, He Xiangyu, Masbedo, James Richards, Emilija Škarnulytė, Ana Vaz
curated by Alessandro Rabottini and Leonardo Bigazzi
Barbaria de le Tole, 6691 Venice
Penumbra is open every day, except on Tuesdays, from 10 am-6 pm (last admission at 5 pm). Free entry
INDEX OF CONTENTS
“In the darkness of the projection room, our dreams take shape as much as our anxieties. It is inside this constantly moving space that artists’ visions can materialise. Fondazione In Between Art Film was founded with the mission of supporting video and film works and their production, following every step of the creation of those worlds that artists are able to imagine and predict. Penumbra is the first exhibition entirely conceived and produced by the Fondazione. It features eight new works, immersed in the history and unique atmosphere of the Complesso dell’Ospedaletto and commissioned to artists that I admire profoundly for their ability to look unflinchingly at the tensions and hopes of our time. I am delighted to have the opportunity to present our work in Venice—a city that is itself a hymn to the act of seeing—and at an event as prestigious as the Biennale Arte 2022, in the hope that new visions and new forms of reciprocal understanding can emerge from the shadows.”
Beatrice Bulgari, President, Fondazione In Between Art Film
Penumbra features eight new film and video works by eight international artists, commissioned by the Fondazione In Between Art Film to stimulate a reflection on moving images as a space of material and metaphorical transformation.
Taking inspiration from the rarefied atmosphere of Venice and from the hybrid architecture of the Ospedaletto and the church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti, the exhibition was conceived as a stage where images, sounds, and the set design are in reciprocal dialogue with the architecture and its history.
The concept of “semi-darkness” is explored on two levels: in material terms, the absence of light is the necessary condition for making moving images visible; in metaphorical terms, semi-darkness is interpreted as a threshold or place of transition within which the contours and appearance of things blur together.
Understood as the space we inhabit as much at nightfall as at dawn, semi-darkness redefines the distinction between true and false, historical memory and personal specters, the reality of bodies and their social representations, the human subject and the subjugated environment.
The visitor’s path winds through different areas of the Complesso dell’Ospedaletto, the functions of which changed over time following its foundation in the 16th century, when it was built as a temporary structure for hosting the needy. The architectural stratification of the Complesso, contributions to which were made by Baldassare Longhena, Giambattista Tiepolo, Giuseppe Sardi, and Jacopo Guarana, corresponds with changes in the ways it was used, transforming from a hospital into a rest home, and finally a cultural centre.
Amplifying this polyphony of histories, epochs and functions, the works presented in Penumbra lead us into an architecture of images where distant places and imminent anxieties coexist through the use of a diversity of languages that range from narrative approaches to visual and sound experimentation. Presented in a place that was for centuries a space of care and hope, the works in this exhibition speak to us of a global, fragmented world, scattered with areas of darkness and sudden flashes of light, and turn our attention to scenarios in continuous metamorphosis between vulnerability and immunity, truth and fiction, destruction and affirmation, solitude and collectivity.
Alessandro Rabottini, Artistic Director, Fondazione In Between Art Film
Leonardo Bigazzi, Curator, Fondazione In Between Art Film
Single-channel site-specific video installation, colour, stereo sound, 19’. Courtesy of the artists, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
Between 9 May and 11 June 1943, Pantelleria island was violently bombarded by the Allied troops in the first operation to reconquer Italy. Residents recall that, after the surrender, some of the village’s buildings were blown up for the cameras of a propaganda combat film. Pantelleria traces the memories of this episode settled in the collective consciousness of the island and looks at the contemporary implications of an event in the shadow of official history. Through a two-years long participatory process with the residents, the film explores the tension between the truth and its ideological distortion, and between the reality of the bombs and their telling through images. The Nervi hangar, a symbol of Mussolini’s militarisation of the island, is filmed empty and inhabited by a magical animal presence. Extracts from the combat film are projected onto the buildings of today’s Pantelleria, while the camera travels through the bunkers dug by the Italian army. The voiceover, written and read by writer Giorgio Vasta, gives expressive form to the island’s stories, while the sound by GUP Alcaro and Davide Tomat distorts the recordings of the local orchestra Spata, finding in dance music a space for the reactivation of the past, and liberation in the present.
Masbedo is Nicolò Massazza (b. 1973, Italy) and Iacopo Bedogni (b. 1970, Italy). They live in Milan and have been working together since 1999. Their work has been exhibited at ICA Milano; MAMM – Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow; Manifesta 12, Palermo; Haus der Kulturen der Welt; MART, Rovereto; Leopold Museum, Vienna; MAMBA – Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; MAXXI, Rome; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, among others.
Two-channel video, colour, sound, 27’. Additional support by African Culture Fund, Mali. With thanks to Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination. Courtesy of the artist, and Fondazione in Between Art Film
The video installation depicts a group of undocumented, self-em- ployed tin miners in Nigeria’s Jos Plateau region, striving to make a living out of an impoverished and unstable land as well as precarious and often life-threatening working conditions. Plateau merges a lyrical and investigative exploration of the relation between the landscape and the corporeal, with the majestic presence of the cactus symbolically conjuring both in its endurance to harsh surroundings. Male bodies are seen strenuously sifting mud and moving buckets of water in repetitive, brushstroke-like gestures. Yet, rather than romanticizing, the film stays close to these fatigued workers, whose determined gestures courageously attend the land utilizing inherited manual techniques and re-mine what the British colonial regime left after it exploited Nigeria in its complex, century-long, violent occupation. Their testimonies, together with those of local villagers and landowners, document the economic collapse of the region in the aftermath of British corporations’ decommission as well as the newly found opportunities to pursue their community’s independence.
Karimah Ashadu (1985, United Kingdom) is a British-Nigerian artist who lives and works between Hamburg and Lagos. Her work has been exhibited at Secession, Vienna; Bonner Kunstverein; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Kunstverein in Hamburg; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; MoMA, New York; and Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, among others.
É Noite na América, 2021
Three-channel video, 16mm transferred to HD, colour, sound, 44’. Co-produced by Pivô Arte e Pesquisa, and Spectre Production. Courtesy of the artist, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
“A young anteater found dead by the side of a road, a maned wolf is found in a farm in Sobradinho II, a small owl is rescued in the Radio Center district, a capybara swims in the water mirror of the Itamaraty Palace. The question is: are animals invading our cities, or rather are we occupying their habitat?” (Correio Braziliense, February, 2021). On the wings of Brazil’s aeroplane-shaped capital city—a necropolis transformed into an oasis by architects—thousands of trapped lives seek refuge in its gardens. É Noite en América [It is Night in America] was filmed at Brasilia Zoo, habitat of hundreds of rescued species fleeing the violence of agribusiness, urbanisation and the pollution of the Brazilian cerrado. As a nocturnal feast filmed on expired 16mm—a material also in danger of extinction —, this immersive installation casts an animalistic spell with shades of eco-horror, wildlife fictions and documentary, subverting the limits of cinematic genres. Giant anteaters, otters, maned wolves, owls, and capybaras meet with veterinarians, caretakers and the environmental police in a sombre plot where the challenges of preserving life weave a web of intersecting perspectives. In the end, who are the real captives?
Ana Vaz (b. 1986, Brazil) is an artist and film director. Her work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Jeu de Paume, Paris; LUX Moving Images, London; New York Film Festival – Projections; TIFF Wavelengths, Toronto; BFI, London; Cinéma du Réel, Paris; Whitechapel Gallery, London; MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Matadero, Madrid; Jameel Arts Center, Dubai; Confort Moderne, Poitiers; Savvy Contemporary, Berlin; and Sonic Acts, Amsterdam, among others.
Aphotic Zone, 2022
Single-channel site-specific video installation, 4K, colour, 5.1 sound, 16’. Courtesy of the artist, Erik Cordes and the Schmidt Ocean Institute, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
As a cinematic journey across the ocean’s abysses, Aphotic Zone echolocates the mythological as much as the critical aspects of humanity’s avarice in its, albeit brief, stay on Earth. It crosses a trench at 4 km depth to reach the pitch black (or, aphotic) zone of the Pacific seamounts of Costa Rica on the other side. The only visible lights beam from strange, bioluminescent creatures in its inky depths. A Remotely Operated Vehicle samples deep sea corals with its robotic arms while images of the undulating seafloor generated from 3D laser scanner data as well as of the towering Duga radar (a Soviet-era missile defense system near Chernobyl, Ukraine) shift and scale into a landscape of prehistoric creatures and advanced technology. Here, more-than-human and machinic agencies weirdly coexist with the sonic memory of a distant civilization: mixed by Oscar- winning engineers Jaime Baksht and Michelle Couttolenc, the sound was recorded in Mexico City’s main plaza during the commemorations for the 500th anniversary of Spain’s bloody conquest of Tenochtitlan. The former capital of the Aztec Empire becomes a sonic ghost reverberating with the contemporary destructions of societies and ecosystems. Oscillating between the documentary and the oneiric, Aphotic Zone imagines the future as its vantage point with the aim of looking back into the present amid the threats of climate crisis and economic extractivism; the idealistic prospects of science; and what will survive the ravages of human greed.
Emilija Škarnulytė (b. 1987, Lithuania) is an artist and film director. Her work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, London; Kunsthaus Pasquart, Biel; Den Frie, Copenhagen; National Gallery of Art, Vilnius; CAC, Vilnius; Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Ballroom Marfa; SeMA – Seoul Museum of Art; Kadist Foundation; RIBOCA 2018; Serpentine Galleries, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. In 2019, she received the Future Generation Art Prize.
Qualities of Life: Living in the Radiant Cold, 2022
Featuring Daily Photos and Observational Photos (both, 2000–2007) by Horst Ademeit (1937–2010), and an extract from Hemlock (2022) by Leslie Thornton. Special thanks to Fatima Hellberg. Single-channel site specific video installation, 2K, colour, stereo sound, 17’29”. Courtesy of the artist, the Estate of Horst Ademeit, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
The work is a material and metaphorical endoscope that records and compiles domestic still lifes, detritus, and civic sewage systems into a poetry and music suite to look closer at the private and public dimensions of decay, hygiene, and contagion. Over its stanzas, it focuses with granular attention on the different materials it collects, as if involved in the anamnesis of a self, a body, a house, a city. The film entangles the macro with the micro scale across nonlinear discourses, from the millennial evolution of bees’ social structure—a footage originally filmed by artist and often collaborator Leslie Thornton—to the brief analysis of a body through an MRI scan. One of its guiding forces is a series of images from the archive of Horst Ademeit, whose obsessive, multi-decade imperative was to register the detrimental impact of radiations (or invisible, “cold” rays, as he called them) on his body and his surroundings. In another stanza, various erotic, narcotic, and nostalgic remains from Richards’s apartment and studio are gathered, scanned, and animated into mental conglomerates. Throughout the film, objects and subjects, bodies and images only solidify for a moment before smearing their borders, drifting into something else. Voices and percussions developed with musicians and actors rhythmically emerge and submerge, causing novel interferences. The film poses a survivalist dilemma, or maybe a trick, in the subtly mundane and infrastructural dimension that it traverses.
James Richards (b. 1983, UK) is an artist who lives and works between Berlin and London. His works have been presented at Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Malmö Konsthall; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart; ICA, London; Bergen Kunsthall; Chisenhale Gallery, London; Camden Art Centre, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; MoMA, New York; Artists Space, New York; and the Biennale Arte 2013, among others. Richards represented Wales at the Biennale Arte 2017.
House of Nations, 2021
Single-channel video, 2K, colour, 5.1 sound, 28’58’’. Courtesy of the artist, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
Set during the COVID-19 pandemic, House of Nations is an intimate and elusive portrait of a young Chinese man who lives in a Berlin rooming house for international students. The film closely follows its protagonist over two years in his daily errands, social gatherings, and more private moments amid the invisibility that the urban context places upon the life of individuals. No major events happen around him. Yet a series of minor specks of dust—a lonely look in his eyes, a sense of disconnection in his body language—creep in and suggest the existential aspirations and uncertainties he is grappling with. If tactile sensations such as the warmth of a fire, the dryness of his hands when rubbed together, the softness and harshness of a rope during a bondage session become the compass to navigate the spectrum of his psychology, the doors that recurringly open and close gesture toward those attempts at translation and transgression of the boundaries between what’s inside him versus outside. With its cinema verité approach, the film offers a space of storytelling to all those lives that would otherwise be deemed anonymous, while exposing the paradoxes of globalization in its false aspirations of a borderless world and seamless displacements.
He Xiangyu (b. 1986, China) is an artist and film director who lives and works in Berlin. His works have been shown at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Para Site, Hong Kong; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Kadist Foundation, San Francisco; LACMA, Los Angeles; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; and the Biennale Arte 2019 – Pavilion of People’s Republic of China, among others.
Jonathas de Andrade
Olho da Rua, 2022
Single-channel video, colour, stereo sound, 25’. Courtesy of the artist, Galleria Continua, Galeria Nara Roesler, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
Olho da Rua [Out Loud] casts a temporary community of homeless people in the streets of downtown Recife, Brazil, where the artist lives. Inspired by the techniques of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, the film stages a series of performative acts that focus on collective dynamics and exercises of gaze in a public square. Bordering fiction and nonfiction, the aim was to engage the cast of nonprofessional actors in debates about identity, care, family, class consciousness, and social and political visibility through actions and words. Out of the script, the images are delicately receptive to the cast’s personality and emotional worlds, and stand as a powerful testimony of contemporary Brazil, with its rich multiculturalism and structural inequalities. To accompany them is a hypnotic soundtrack by percussionist Homero Basílio that uses instruments rooted in Northeastern Brazil. The film is not only a reflection on power dynamics rooted in colonialism—and on how these may be tied to whoever holds the camera—, but also a provocation to the viewer. Using art and radical pedagogy tools to reposition the stories of people who are marginalized and made invisible, the work fosters ways to collectively rethink reality and imagine alternatives.
Jonathas De Andrade (b. 1982, Brazil) is an artist who lives and works in Recife. His works have been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; New Museum, New York; The Power Plant, Toronto; MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo; MAR – Museu de Arte do Rio; MAC – Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; MOMENTA Biennale de l’image, Montreal (2019); Istanbul Biennial (2019); SITE Santa Fe (2016); Bienal de São Paulo (2016); Performa15, New York; and La Biennial de Lyon (2013).
Single-channel digital video, colour, 5.1 sound, 9’58’. Courtesy of the artist, Experimenter, and Fondazione In Between Art Film
In the 1980s, the residents of Kabul used the darkness of the night as a space to protest against the ongoing Soviet occupation. When the USSR withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, thirty-two years of guerrilla warfare began across the country. At the end of the US-led NATO invasion in 2021, the residents of Kabul once again went on their rooftops and shouted the Takbir, chanting Allah-u akbar as a sonic act of defiance, as a collective reclamation of space in the darkness. The film attends to the affective complexity of truth, sidestepping the attempts that both the incumbent US-backed Afghan government and the Taliban made to appropriate these aural demonstrations for their own propaganda. Takbir observes darkness and light, sound and silence as perceptual and metaphorical devices to dissect the transformations brought about by the War on Terror. Most of the film’s scenes were shot in Kabul, and conjure the beauty of a city glimmering in the night with the cruel consequences of normalized violence. Ultimately, Takbir weaves together near and far geographies as well as incorporates recent and distant sonic rituals with translocal and transtemporal displacements.
Aziz Hazara (b. 1992, Afghanistan) has shown his works at PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv; Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard College, New York; Netwerk Aalst; Biennale of Sydney (2020); and IKOB, Eupen, among others. In 2021, Hazara has been awarded with the Future Generation Art Prize.
Penumbra is both a state of mind and an experience—one that thrives in the beauty of the uncertain. Through a series of repetitive structures, the exhibition design colonizes and reacts to the heterogeneous assemblage of spaces that make up Complesso dell’Ospedaletto: wooden modular stretchers covered with dark fabric—a system that adapts to different geometries and layouts, and that can be dismantled and readapted for future uses—unfold across the monumental sixteenth-century church Santa Maria dei Derelitti, the seventeenth-century spiral staircase, the illusionistic frescoes of the eighteenth-century Sala della Musica, and more recent adaptations.
Specifically framing and staging each film on display and reflecting on the interconnected notions of human and architectural anatomy, the setup is conceived as a collection of pieces from a dismembered body, at times enhancing, and others concealing the existing rooms. The space-time between one film and another is occupied by darkness, glimpses of light, and fragments of structures, collapsing the distinction between stage and architecture. The visitor is thus immersed in a cinematic journey through a dormant architecture that is floating across past, present, and future.
Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, 2050+
Throughout its duration, Penumbra will be accompanied by a public program titled Vanishing Points. According to linear perspective, a vanishing point is that real as much as virtual site on the horizon of a picture where its elements converge. It is the particular and universal point according to which the picture is fabricated and yet, despite being what the eye is invited to look at, it is also where vision paradoxically ends.
Within and beyond this framework, the public program of Penumbra looks at the material and metaphorical vanishing points which animate the works in the exhibition, acknowledging and engaging with a multiplicity of perspectives on activism, aesthetics, ecocriticism, geopolitics, philosophy, post-colonialism, critical spatial practice, and visual culture. Together with curators, researchers, and thinkers, Vanishing Points involves the artists featured in the show and expand the conversations around their practice via conversations, screening programs, performances, and live readings. It proposes public gatherings to encourage novel encounters and unexpected exchanges on cultural production.
Bianca Stoppani, Editor, Fondazione In Between Art Film
Paola Ugolini, Curator, Fondazione In Between Art Film
Please visit inbetweenartfilm.com for the details on the program of Vanishing Points
FONDAZIONE IN BETWEEN ART FILM
Fondazione In Between Art Film was founded in 2019 with a cultural programme focused on the role of contemporary moving images and the support of international artists, institutions, and research centres exploring the dialogue between different disciplines. The Fondazione investigates the boundaries of time-based media—film, video, performance and installation—through commissioned projects, acquisition programmes, and institutional collaborations. The permanent research platform STILL – Studies on Moving Images was created to extend our commitment to the field of theory, building a growing archive of texts about the works in the Fondazione’s collection and the artists that we support. The Fondazione furthers the work of the production company In Between Art Film which, from 2012–2019, produced video works for dOCUMENTA 14 in Kassel, the Italian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte in 2017 and 2019, Manifesta 12 in Palermo, Serpentine Galleries in London, and the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement in 2016 and 2018 in Geneva. The Fondazione’s commitment to the culture of moving images is also reflected in its support for the film programming of Museo MAXXI in Rome, Tate Modern in London, and Lo schermo dell’arte in Florence.
President: Beatrice Bulgari
Artistic Director: Alessandro Rabottini
Curators: Leonardo Bigazzi, Paola Ugolini
Project Manager: Alessia Carlino
Editor: Bianca Stoppani
Administrative Office: Simona Iandoli
Archive: Chiara Nicolini
Complesso dell’Ospedaletto, Venezia
An exhibition conceived and produced by Fondazione In Between Art Film with Karimah Ashadu, Jonathas de Andrade, Aziz Hazara, He Xiangyu, Masbedo, James Richards, Emilija Škarnulytė, Ana Vaz
curated by: Alessandro Rabottini, Leonardo Bigazzi
Project manager: Alessia Carlino
Research: Bianca Stoppani
Public program curated by: Bianca Stoppani, Paola Ugolini
Coordination: Giovanni Paolin
Set design: 2050+
Guglielmo Campeggi, Francesca Lantieri, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Massimo Tenan
Coordination and Set-up: Altofragile
Sara Bernasconi, Lapo Gavioli, Giulia Mainetti, Francesco Rovaldi
Design: Lorenzo Mason Studio
Lorenzo Mason, Dafne Pagura, Simone Spinazzè
Venews C563 Arts – Massimo Bran, Paola Marchetti
Ospedaletto Con/temporaneo – Mariachiara Marzari
Fondazione In Between Art Film – Simona Iandoli, Chiara Nicolini
Press relations and communications:
Lara Facco P&C – Lara Facco, Claudia Santrolli
Sam Talbot – Matthew Brown, Jennifer Kibazo, Sam Talbot
Delegato Patriarcale Beni Culturali Ecclesiastici per il Patriarcato di Venezia
I.P.A.V. (ex I.R.E.)
Luigi Polesel, Presidente
Fondazione Venezia Servizi alla Persona
Claudio Beltrame, Presidente
Laura De Rossi, Laura Marcomin, Edoardo Rizzi, Elisa Torri
Texts: Bianca Stoppani (except the synopsis for É Noite na América by: Ana Vaz)
Copy-editing: Rachel Walther
Translations: Alessandra Castellazzi, Sarah Elizabeth Cree
All works have been commissioned and produced by Fondazione In Between Art Film