Romania, France, Hungary, Poland, Italy. These are the countries the “Creole Performance Cycle” has been travelling across. There, artists of diverse provenances and backgrounds have met on the stage and have negotiated language, methods, topics, and forms of expression in order to produce a series of performances.
The group’s luggage was filled with skills and ideas. These in turn became questions, which they asked to the places and the artists they met. Together with the latters, Balletto Civile was involved in a role-play, which nally displayed both the hard work of mutual understanding they had gone through, and the urgent need of thinking about their own identity.
Daniela Neri, photographer, closely observed this process of transformation with the aim of keeping its traces in a series of shots. Some of the images have been collected in the exhibition Creolimage. Since she worked side by side with the artists involved on the stage, Daniela Neri could not avoid projecting the process of creolisation into the photographic image.
On the one hand, this has meant documenting that transformation. Photography was driven toward adopting the style of the reportage: it assumed the posture of a witness who, through his gaze, participates to the dynamics of the encounter. The camera slips into the artistic negotiation to finally observe the moment of creation.
Nevertheless, witnessing is not reporting the truth. It means, instead, to report facts from a point of view that is necessarily conniving at someone else’s one. The photographic shot throws the beholder in the very middle of the struggle and puts him next to somebody who was there, where the event took place. By means of providing the standpoint of a witness, the camera asks the beholder to side with whoever is involved in the creolisation process. Images invite the beholder to share with the portrayed people the tensions, the attitude and the target of their glance.
On the other hand, to imprint the process of creolisation into the images implied the translation of the theatrical forms of representation. Photography had thus to be thought of as a language capable of “speaking the scene” through its peculiar expressive tools. It had to achieve through other means what the stage realises through the mise-en-scène. In this sense, Daniela Neri’s photos push the stage towards the depth of eld and take its place in front of the audience. The portion of the world they crop shifts in this way from the mise-en-scène to the mise-en-cadre.
Thus, if on the one hand the creolisation process is documented, on the other one, photography directly participates in it, in order to produce visions that bridle all the forces at play in the very instant of the shot. The surface of the image is made thus appear as a space always on the point of exploding.
Balletto Civile has played with the imagery of all the diverse communities it came across along the journey. The Italian company has tried to investigate the logics and the mechanics of the European imagery in order to translate this imagery into the performances. In this way, any theatrical action enacted on the stage could really be able to affect it. Once this process has taken place, Daniela Neri’s photographic work brings back this recon gured imagery to the nature of image and returns it to eyes whose gaze should now be able to reconstruct it. Image thus becomes the ingredient of a new European memory that is very different from archived collections of beautiful landscapes and folk stereotypes. The result of this process is also quite distant from the goals of institutional policies of integration.
Daniela Neri’s shots look closely at, and keep the traces of, the encounter between different forms of life. They chase the force released by artistic acts, which unavoidably aim to give to the world an unexpected order which lies behind appearance: that is, a new picture of reality. However, the creative act runs along time and escapes from being captured. Consequently, the only possibility that is left to photography is to recreate the act in order to render it.
Memory of the encounter. Memory of creation. The memory that is kept in the pictures is to be in turn reactivated by the beholder’s glance. Chasing the rhymes through the pictures can allow us to nd again the way and reshape the travel’s route step by step. Thus, the beholder will be absorbed in the mixture of gestures and in the tangle of viewpoints. It will be possible for him to trace back each of the events to the places where they occurred. At the end, the beholder will be progressively able to recognize the identities of each of the artists engaged in the project, and to follow them in their gradual transformation.
Gaze is driven to perform a double movement. On one side, the inde nite set of relations established between the images leaves to the beholder the task of linking them through his own interpretative code, and in this way forces him to join the process of creolisation. On the other side, the way pictures have been organised in the exhibition points to the trace of an experience, at the same time as it hands this experience over to memory. Walking around the panels, the observer crosses his steps with those of the processes of identity, and enters the game of interactions. At the end, once creation has been made in this way the subject of vision, it becomes available to us as a place we can nally live in.
PLAYING IDENTITIES/CREOLIMAGE è una mostra a cura di Daniela Neri e Stefano Jacoviello.
L’allestimento per Voci di Fonte è curato da Luca Baldini.