The Residenze Digitali (Digital Residencies) project is about to open to the public online. Seven artists selected from 178 applications meet to experiment with the “contamination” between performing arts and the digital environment, in dialogue with professionals from the sector.
This is the result of a process that has sought and found proximity and exchange in the digital space. The difficulties of the moment have been transformed to produce huge potential. Luca Ricci who, together with Lucia Franchi, is co-director of CapoTrave/Kilowatt and who, with Armunia, launched and coordinates the Residenze Digitali project, tells us how this was achieved, as the artists prepare before the curtain opens on their work.
E.G.Rossi: The online residency programme is now in its second year. Festival Kilowatt and all the partner organisations of the project have been active for some time with residency projects in physical space. The digital space is certainly far removed from theatrical space, both in terms of preparation and staging. What surprised you about this new experience?
Luca Ricci: First of all I’d like to point out that the residences in presence have continued to exist, apart from the period of the first lockdown. This is true for us, but also for our partners, who are all equally active on this front. The Digital Residences project was born in 2020 to respond to the needs of the moment.
We have always dealt with performing arts with a very strong link to physical space and the local territory. The pandemic situation opened our eyes to this reality of digital creation and represented an opportunity to access it. We operated and still operate as neophytes, explorers trying to learn the rules and how we have to move. It was precisely in this status as newcomers that we found our strength.
What difficulties and opportunities have you encountered?
We were faced with completely new problems. In activities taking place in a physical space, to give a trivial example, it’s a problem when the light bulb goes out. However, in the dynamics of online work, the number of gigabytes needed to transport and circulate a project on the network represents a problem of equal measure. These are technical examples but there are also problems more closely related to the artistic aspect. We have learnt many things from artists who are used to inhabiting the digital space and we have offered ourselves as a testing ground for them, putting ourselves in the shoes of the spectators and testing everything that those who are used to working in these spaces necessarily take for granted. Problems and difficulties always lead to unexplored paths and turn out to be a big opportunity.
You started the digital residency programme in the first year of the pandemic. What have you changed in the short term, in light of what you gained after the first experience?
First of all, we expanded our network of partners in order to be able to give more significant financial support to the artists. The project promoted by the Tuscany Centre of Residency (Armunia – Capo Trave/Kilowatt) is, in fact, developed in partnership with the Associazione Marchigiana Attività Teatrali AMAT, the Cooperative Anghiari Dance Hub, ATCL – Circuito multidisciplinare del Lazio per Spazio Rossellini, the Emilia – Romagna Centre of Residencies (Arboreto di Mondaino and Corte Ospitale di Rubiera), the Fondazione Luzzati Teatro della Tosse in Genoa and Zona K in Milan. Nine realities, all of them accommodating residencies in physical spaces.
We have improved the support given by tutors to the artists, who already benefitted from the contribution of scholars and experts in the contamination of performing arts and digital culture. Annamaria Monteverdi and Federica Patti were joined this year by Laura Gemini. Their presence offers extra support to the artists, not only with regard to the technical aspect but also with everything concerning the artistic revival of their work. We also benefitted from their input. They have opened our minds to the history of digital technology and its many potential uses.
Another aspect that we have implemented is the residency time, which has now been extended to seven months, two more than last year, punctuated by regular meetings between artists, tutors and ourselves, during the work in progress. This exchange and confrontation has been mutually beneficial because we placed ourselves in the position of spectators.
A balanced mix of artists who have solid experience in the physical space but want to experiment with digital platforms and artists who are completely at ease in the virtual space has also been constructive. For the latter, the exchange with newcomers like us has been very helpful in getting feedback on many things that are usually taken for granted.
We discussed the relationship with artists, the work, the space and the creative process. Now to the audience… What audience do you look for online and how do you position yourself?
First of all, it should be noted that we are talking about “residences”, meaning work in progress. The result of these creative processes should be seen in this light, even if most of the time it is finished work that is presented to the public.
This year we decided to establish a relationship with the public which is well-defined. We made viewers responsible by asking them to pay a €3 ticket. We felt giving this signal was important to restore value to the content and experience of an online visit. We don’t want to generalise by claiming that everything that is distributed for free has no value, quite the contrary. There are beautiful projects that are specifically created to be enjoyed online for free. And that’s fine. However, we come from the performing arts and, in this context, it was important to be selective when taking into account the interest of those who want to follow the events closely, while still offering an affordable price.
In this spirit, the material is then made available online, limited to the duration of the event – from 22 to 28 November 2021. This means we have to do a much more structured job of promoting and communicating the event, stimulating people’s interest and not counting the number of people randomly accessing the page. For us, this also means moving communication into the virtual space, relying on online magazines whose users are already familiar with the medium.
What should a curious, web-savvy audience, not necessarily experienced in performing arts, expect?
The audience expects to be amazed – to encounter creative spaces, content and methodologies that are truly stimulating and innovative, replete with fascinating, often even entertaining experiments. I would tell viewers to trust the project as a whole and to buy a ticket for at least two or three events, get comfortable in front of the computer or a smart TV and get ready to discover how fascinating the creation of a performance in digital space can be.
The interview with Luca Ricci was carried out as part of a Media Partnership between Arshake and Residenze Digitali.
Residenze Digitali /Digital Residencies, November 22 – 28, 2021
Please visit here the website for the complete and updated calendar of events.
Biglietti available at Liveticket
Artisti: Chiara Taviani, Jan Voxel, Giacomo Lilliù/Collettivo ØNAR e Lapis Niger, Margherita Landi e Agnese Lanza, compagnia fuse*, Lorenzo Montanini, Mara Oscar Cassiani.
The project is promoted by the Tuscany Centre of Residency (Armunia – Capo Trave/Kilowatt) and developed in partnership with the Associazione Marchigiana Attività Teatrali AMAT, the Cooperative Anghiari Dance Hub, ATCL – Circuito multidisciplinare del Lazio per Spazio Rossellini, the Emilia – Romagna Centre of Residencies (Arboreto di Mondaino and Corte Ospitale di Rubiera), the Fondazione Luzzati Teatro della Tosse in Genoa and Zona K in Milan. Project tutors – scholars Laura Gemini, Anna Maria Monteverdi and Federica Patti.
images: (cover 1) Luca Ricci. photo Andrea Settanni (2) Residenze Digitali 2021, poster (3) Lorenzo Montanini, Simona di Maio, Isabel Albertini, «La finta nonna», 2021 (4) fuse*, «Sal|Rite Studio 0.2», 2021 (5) Jan Voxel, «The Critters Room», 2021 (6) Chiara Taviani, «Whatever Happens in A Screen Stays in a Screen», 2021 (7) Mara Oscar Cassiani, «I Am Dancing in a Room_ La Fauna 2k21», 2021 (8)Margherita Landi e Agnese Lanza, «Dealing with the absence», 2021 (9) Giacomo Lilliù e Lapis Niger, WOE – Westage of events, 2021