Director Paola Di Mitri returns to the REF with a video installation, Da qui in poi ci sono i leoni, in which she recounts the impact of human activities on the environment of our peninsula.
The format of Di Mitri’s work this time is not that of a documentary show, but of an articulated narrative path, in which the spectators are invited to move to conduct a brief investigation in time.
We are in the era of the Anthropocene, and looking at how the hand of man is transforming our country, the vision of a prosperous future is more than distant, unreachable, unimaginable. Hence the title of the installation, which refers to what cartographers of the past used to write when, on returning from a journey, they realised they could not draw a complete map of the region they had been to because it was at the limits of the known and therefore potentially dangerous, and they imagined it to be populated by ferocious beasts.
The installation, which availed itself of Davide Crudetti’s film creations, Rosita Vallefuoco’s staging and Gaspare Sammartano’s field recordings, winds its way through the large dark space of the former Pelanda ticket office, now used as an exhibition space. Viewers are greeted by four large screens, with background music, on which images of the transformations that have taken place in four Italian regions, Apulia, Sardinia, Liguria/Tuscany and Piedmont, follow one another. Behind them they find the corner of a house in perfect 1960s style with a cathode tube television broadcasting archive footage of the economic boom in which wild industrialisation in Italy, from North to South, led to the progressive abandonment of the countryside.
After the reconstructions of a past and present reality whose predictable narration does not give rise to any great surprises, in the last stage of the journey, Di Mitri finally opens up a glimmer of invention, setting up a slow path, punctuated by small screens at eye level and headphones in which viewers can listen to interviews with people from four different generations. Young and old people filmed in close-up answer the question “How do you imagine the future?”, and their fantasies ignite the listener’s curiosity and imagination. And so the geography of the installation can finally become not just the drawing of a meticulous cartographer, but rather the invention of a place that does not yet exist, unknown and mysterious, a fantasy forest whose kings are not yet, or perhaps will no longer be, human beings.
Paola Dimitri (with Davide Crudetti), Da qui in poi ci sono i Leoni, video installation, Romaeuropa Festival, Mattatoio, Rome, 10 – 15.11.2023
images (al): Paola Dimitri, «Da qui in poi ci sono i Leoni», still from video