Project Description

“…ED IO VIDI NELLE NOSTRE VALLATE CRETINI CHE ALLA LUNGHEZZA DEL CRANIO, ALLA SPORGENZA DEL MUSO, ALLA GROSSEZZA DELLE LABBRA E PERFINO ALL’OSCURAMENTO DELLA PELLE PAREVANO NEGRI MALAMENTE IMBIANCATI.” [1]

L’UOMO BIANCO E L’UOMO DI COLORE, CESARE LOMBROSO

Labor and the diminished social value of laborers is the element that characterizes the works of art in Le Schiavone. This section deals directly with dirt, labor, and becoming dirt.

Le Schiavone is one of ten sections of Lanfranco Aceti’s installation titled Preferring Sinking to Surrender which was conceived by the artist for the Italian Pavilion, Resilient Communities, curated by Alessandro Melis for the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021. The ten sections are: Tools for Catching Clouds; Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part I; Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part II; Sacred Waters; Le SchiavoneOrthósSeven Veils; Signs; Rehearsaland The Ending of the End. These sections, singularly and collectively, create a complex narrative that responds to this year’s theme How Will We Live Together? set by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale.  

The works of art — realized as a series of performances, installations, sculptures, video, and painting contributions — are part of the installation at the Italian Pavilion from May 21, 2021, to November 21, 2021, the opening and closing dates of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The artist will upload texts, images, and videos until the completion of each section beyond November 21, 2021, the closing date of the Venice Architecture Biennale. If you wish to receive updates as the works of art unfold, please subscribe to the newsletter.

Le Schiavone explores the classification of peasants into the ranks of unmentionables and untouchables through performance, photography, installations, wood sculptures, choreographed dance, and drawings. Inspired by a long tradition of the representation of farmers and peasants, this set of works of art focuses on dirt and being dirty. In particular, it historically repositions women laborers’ struggles — which in Italy were called schiavone, hence the Black Madonna of Montevergine popularly being called Mamma Schiavona — in a post-modern context of water theft, land pollution, discrimination of the diverse, and the financial enslavement of the people.

Contrary to the contemporary focus on youth and beauty, Le Schiavone emphasizes issues of race (being black or non-white, since peasants were not considered white) and class, in a context in which Mamma Schiavona, or The Great Black Mediterranean Mother, is displaced from her historical roots of life-giving lymph and is instead condemned to exist in a landscape of greed and pollution.

Similarly to Des Glaneuses (The Gleaners) by Jean-François Millet, Le Schiavone makes its own overt and rebellious critique of contemporary society, labor practices in a capitalistic framework, and the exploitation of water and land in an evermore industrialized food production chain. The works of art, in this particular context, also allude to the deprivation of women’s power in the food production chain. No longer autonomous or semi-autonomous depositaries of precious family knowledge symbiotically tied to the state of nature and horticultural diversity, women are expected to exist within the remits of an industrial patriarchal complex which legislatively burdens small homesteads, impeding local food production. The impossibility of food autonomy and bartering signals the impossibility of a matriarchal existence outside of patriarchal capitalistic ownership and control. Nevertheless, the periphery continues to resist, albeit barely, through the flaunting of laws, the blatant disregard of restrictions, and in contrast to centralized power, which grows weaker the more peripheral existence becomes. The escape from the centralized power of patriarchy obliges people to exist at the fringes as social outcasts and therefore vulnerable to the discriminatory punishment and invasive control of the nation state.

References:

[1] “[…] and I saw in our valleys cretins who because of the length of the skull, the protruding of the face, the thickness of the lips and even the darkness of the skin looked like negroes badly painted white.” The translation is mine. Cesare Lombroso, L’Uomo Bianco e L’Uomo di Colore: Letture su l’Origine e la Varietà delle Razze Umane .

[2]

Image Captions:

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.