Until May 2020, at Mercati di Traiano in Rome, the Live Museum project, Live Change, brings new perspectives and contemporary narratives to the famous archaeological site, through Atelier d’Artista (Artist Atelier), which allows artists who have been selected from a public competition to create an event, over the course of a week’s residence, that interacts with the history of this ancient site. The large complex of Trajan’s Market, which started to flourish under Trajan’s rule and was probably designed during the Domitian era, includes buildings arranged on different levels. It is thought that a hive of commercial activities, directly connected with the adjacent Forum, was situated at the lower level.
The first Atelier d’Artista was created by Iginio De Luca (Formia, 1966), ending with an intense poetic sound performance Le voci di dentro (Inside Voices, 14 February 2020). This performance, which took place in an ancient niche, brought to life the historical marble remains contained within through the sound produced exclusively by their contact with the hands of the artist and amplified by highly sensitive microphones, inaugurating the whole Live Museum project, Live Change, directed and curated by Maria Francesca Guida.
The protagonist of the second Atelier d’Artista was Sonia Andresano (Salerno, 1983) with her sound and performance installation Permesso di sosta e fermata (Parking Permit, Friday 21 February).
For this new work, Sonia Andresano placed old chairs, all different in style and material, in distant corners across the site, even in those not normally open to the public. She placed these chairs in front of wonderful views of the ruins, glimpsed through arches, flights of stairs, balconies or surprising spectators, while they are observing the entire landscape, from high terraces. The chairs appear normal but contain a hidden device which reproduces, in a loop, the noise of each chair’s friction on the ground, produced when moved, each with a different sound. They are motionless chairs, in a rarefied and almost unreal space, but through sound, they testify, tirelessly, to their continuous movement.
Sitting on each chair, as they are instinctively driven to do, spectators immediately come to realise that the evocative views of this beautiful archaeological site become a sort of spiritual window, from which the artist evokes a theme that is important to her, the existential journey.
The change of place, represented by the testimony of the noise produced by the same movement together with the view, identified as the desire to know different realities and, therefore, new ideas and new forms of humanity – in order to be able to assimilate a more complete vision of life through different perspectives, to continuously feel the need for such novelty, to be witness to the journey, together with the hope of finding in new experiences and new perspectives the sense of existence that is being sought, from which, perhaps, to start again – appears to be the message of the whole installation.
The journey – understood as displacement, sometimes sought sometimes necessary – and, above all, the whole itinerary, the one that exists immediately after departure and immediately before arrival, recurs with frequent rhythm in Andresano’s research, present in many of her photographic and video installations.
In every work carried out so far and dedicated to this theme, however, it seems that the question is always different. In some of the works you can feel the tearing apart as a result of detachment, the uncertainty about going forward. In others, it is the weight of having to face a path when you do not think you are ready while, in others still, you seize the lightness that comes from having completed a particularly significant journey. In all of these works, there is a desire to go further, to take everything with you, because you still do not know what is best to leave behind. In Parking Permit, it seems that the artist has finally welcomed the whole journey with peace of mind, that she has reached the conclusion that everything she has encountered, and everything that has pushed her to know something other than herself, has been the most important search, the one that has guided her, providing inspiration for other future journeys – perhaps less unpredictable than before.
So much so that other people can share this and are invited to try it, to embark on it.
Or is it really just one single journey?
Existential journeys have been around since the time of Ulysses. Sonia Andresano has been tracing and indicating them with her unique poetry and finesse, without arrogance or heroism, without prejudice, without tearing anything apart, but rather with the fluidity displayed by the flow her own reflections.
Live Museum, Live Change, is a PAV project, in collaboration with ECCOM-Idee per la Cultura, Melting Pro and Visiva Lab, among the winners of the competition ABC – Atelier Art Beauty Culture of the Lazio Region (February / May 2020). The Museum will re open on April 3rd, following the governmental measures in order to face Coronavirus emergency.
images (all): Sonia Andresano, «Permesso di sosta e fermata», 2020, Atelier d’artista – Mercati di Traiano, still video.