Project Description

“… THROUGHOUT A PERSON’S LIFE THERE PERSISTS A TENDENCY TO RESERVE TO THE SELF THE LARGEST POSSIBLE SHARE OF THE POWER TO ORGANIZE THE SURROUNDINGS AROUND ITSELF AS THE CENTER.”

THE POWER OF THE CENTER, RUDOLF ARNHEIM

How does power manifest itself and how can it be challenged? Is it possible to subvert millennia of symbolisms that not only have replaced meanings and sedimented a cultural and social understanding of life but also have not left any place for gender alterity other than social ostracism and invisibility? What role does publicness play in the construction of new social forms of protest that are rooted in past knowledge and are able to uncover the discarded, silenced, and erased alternatives to current capitalistic models of social and financial enslavement? Can these old models be viable alternatives, if revisited and adapted, or are they gone forever? Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part II engages with the concept of protest as a lifetime of daily resistance and resilience in search of alternative itineraries, forms of engagement, and symbolisms. The works of art ditch the pretense of rationality and scientificity and are based on emotive exchanges, historical remnants, and a matriarchal social idea of curare (to take care) that embraces those who have been marginalized, bringing them to the center of power from the periphery where they have been ostracized.

Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part II 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.

Power, the body, and publicness are constructed through the performance, the images of the itinerary, the landscape traversed, and the censored views as a contrasting statement to the engendered and increasingly threatened idea of a society in which the social element still should find a place. The diversity and non-conformity of the body of the performers compared to the ideal of the soldier and savior, in Foucauldian terms, speak of a diverse interpretation of political resistance and social resilience. There should be a way, an itinerary to take, and a place to traverse, which could bring about change, beyond socially perfunctory and politically assimilable forms of protests. The journey, in this section, is an exploration of such forms of protest and of the way in which the constant mediation and immediacy of social media contributes to the construction of a useless cacophony, increasingly managed and domesticated to be subservient to, and not subversive of, capitalistic interests.

The performances will take place in Rome, Venice, Naples, Athens, London, and New York creating a narrative between the individual, the space traversed, and the symbolisms of power as architectural forms of what is permitted and what is prohibited.

CONTRADA CAMPOLARGO, SOMEWHERE IN ITALY, SOME TIME AGO

The first performance was realized in the field of what is known as being ‘formerly countryside’. It is part of a small village in Italy, transformed into an industrial area where the factories, heavily subsidized by the state,  provide post-postmodern labor for insufficient living wages while polluting societal models, agricultural lands, and utopias. It is the periphery of a peripheral village, rendered invisible by sixty years of local and national corruption and buried under the resulting blight.

PIAZZA DEL CAMPIDOGLIO, ROME, ITALY

The performance was seated in the center of Rome and in one of its most iconic squares, Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo, which continues to reflect the notion of caput mundi — center of the world. The centralized structure of power is juxtaposed to the representation of nothingness (as being nothing and of no value) of the periphery, suddenly inserting in the institutional space something ‘other’ than the rhetoric of aggrandizing and self-celebrating visual discourses.

GIARDINI AND PIAZZA SAN MARCO, VENICE, ITALY

The Venice performance is made of two parts: the first is within the grounds of the Venice Biennale and the second in Saint Mark’s Square. The itinerary is historically saturated and multilayered with meanings, all reduced to a simplified view from above which the artist has further detached and defleshed to the bare minimalist pink lines of drawings that represent the itinerary walked by the performer. 

Preferring Sinking to Surrender, Part II in Saint Mark’s Square is a performance that explores the liquidity of resistance and resilience and the value of power in this context. Transformational possibilities, that allow the reconsideration of and transition from weaknesses into strength, have been rendered visible in the architecture of the city and in its adaptation to a forced coexistence with water. Liquidity, in it various forms, including negative meanings of wavering and being undefined, offer an opportunity to reimagine the traditional meaning of power as an opportunity for the redefinition of life in social, technological, financial, and environmental terms. 

“Reflection on dirt involves reflection on the relation of order to disorder, being to non-being, form to formlessness, life to death,” [1]… power to powerlessness, center to periphery.

The next sections of these works of art, Sacred Waters and Orthós, explore the meaning of water in the post-postmodern context and the inseparable and intertwined theme of dirt as both life giving soil and deadly sedimented pollution.

 

References:

[1] Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, introduction by Mary Douglas (London and New York: Routledge, 1966), 5.

 

Image Captions:

Lanfranco Aceti, Waiting for a Change of Direction,  2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.

Lanfranco Aceti, Untitled, 2021. Wood pole and ripped linen sheet. Performance, Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. Photographic print. Dimensions: 100 cm. X 67 cm.