July 2017_by Saverio Verini
Pereto is a village in the province of L'Aquila, on the border between Abruzzo and Lazio. More than an apparent isolation: inhabited by a few hundred people, its urban fabric grows vertically, clinging to the rock, as if the city wanted to raise and crouch on the Cavaliere's plain that faced it.
But Pereto, which owes its name to the pyrite quarries in that area, is also known as the "Porta d'Abruzzo": border area, the Marsica threshold, the first outpost of a sweet and harsh land together. Seventy miles from Rome, just over forty minutes drive to reach it; less, much less than the time needed to move across the capital during the peak hours, and yet - along that short stretch of road - you enter a world where the time zone that separates it from Rome is far away whole Seasons, maybe years. A pleasant, nostalgic, regenerating distance.
In this context, the first edition of Straperetana was held. Fifteen artists have crossed the "Porta d'Abruzzo", installing their works in the village. Interventions temporarily disseminated in external and internal spaces, born from contact with Pereto, from the stories, the places, and the suggestions emerged during the numerous surveys carried out. Pereto has been able to accommodate artists' eyes, and artists have in turn returned the energy generated by contact with the village; A cordial dialogue capable of extending and amplifying the works and image of the country at the same time.
The photographs below show the route derived from this exchange. Pictures like postcards from another time, from another place, which is past and present together.
Palazzo Maccafani is in the homonymous square, probably the highest point of the village. It is halfway between nobility and decadence, and here are the works of Dario Carratta, Matteo Fato, Matteo Nasini and Marta Roberti.
Ripped walls alongside marginal and damned characters, without possibility of redemption (Carratta); An attempt at self-reliance capable of returning the ambiguity of the expression of Leonardo's San Giovanni (Roberti); The will to renegotiate the role of the frame (form, material, function, position) and to overcome the act of painting as a simple intervention on a "two-dimensional" surface (Fato); The fusion of different materials, from which originate works mid-way form objects of use and organic forms (Nasini). The lost splendor of Palazzo Maccafani returns to be perceivable, reactivated by the presence of works.
A canvas like a curtain can be fenced off one of the gates of the village, denying the view of the landscape. In the idea of Fabio Giorgi Alberti the screen becomes the limit that stimulates the imagination, inviting the visitor to imagine the view beyond the door, encouraging him to physically and conceptually overcome this soft obstacle. Landscape vision thus becomes a moment of passage, aesthetic and perceptual experience that establishes a dialogue between artist and audience.
An abandoned house, a slit to spy on the interior of a room entirely covered with isothermal blankets. Maria Teresa Zingarello has recreated a golden cage, but has a window that opens onto the landscape of the Cavaliere's plain, exactly in line with the peephole; an unexpected escape route that leads to an "over" and that, together with the timeless nature of gold, overwhelms the initial idea of imprisonment and surveillance.
Represented at Straperetana by Thomas Braida and Valerio Nicolai, the Malutta Foundation has performed in the urban space of Pereto. Among them is the inclusion of some old women's paintings inside niches and windows of the palaces, with an approach that desperately despises these figures that could be quietly manifested in an episode of Twin Peaks as well as for the alleys of Pereto. The series of faces is inspired by a mosaic portrait - enigmatic and vaguely disturbing - already on the facade of a village house.
In the spaces of Palazzo Iannucci, Pereto's historic house, all the artists involved in the project exhibited a series of small and medium-sized works. The display of the works in the space was almost mimetic, by joining the objects found in the house (furnishings, pictures, books ...) without altering the conditions of the home environment - now uninhabited for years - and trying to keep in mind the previous "lives" of the place, in the past headquarters of a barracks of law enforcement and then, home of the parish priest of the country.
An environment where time has stopped when the last tenant of the house has gone, accumulating a layer of objects, images, memories, dust. The hourglass of Leonardo Petrucci suggests this - one of the many interventions scattered by the artist both in the open and in the closed spaces: a suspension of time filled with magic and alchemical references.
In Senso di appartenenza, Calixto Ramírez has proposed two interventions along the streets of Pereto: a mixture of stones and clothes with which the artist attempts to establish contact with the site - proposing a sort of restoration of a missing part of the wall - and a photograph just a few yards away, where Ramírez seems to blend with the urban landscape and its interstitial points, almost disappearing.
Francesco Ciavaglioli's work starts with an inscription found by the artist on one of the town's palaces ("AD FINE RESPIC") likely to refer to the Latin motto "quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem" (whatever you do, be cautious and consider the consequences). Ciavaglioli creates a link between the phrase and some photographs taken inside the art high school he attended in L' Aquila, now ruined by the earthquake that hit Abruzzo in 2009. Respice Finem was born, a series of widespread posters In all Pereto, an exhortation to caution and reference to the precariousness of the world and the images we are trying to represent it.
The four sculptures presented by Alessandro Vizzini inside a former butcher shop were made from a small element, a piece of the plastic curtains on the threshold of many of Pereto's homes. The object - then proposed in a significantly increased scale - attests to the attention the artist poses to minimal and seemingly marginal elements: a "rock of the real" obtained through a lyrical and felt glance, shared memory and personal observations.
The work of Giovanni de Cataldo, placed at the entrance of an house in Umberto's path - in the lower part of Pereto - is a large installation. It is an accident guardrail coming from a crash test facility near Pereto; Sculptured by the violence of the collision, the object was coated by the artist with a light-colored felt, in contrast to the originally gray color of the guardrail, but at the same time linked to the fluorescent signage used in the crash-tests.
One of Pereto's two bars - aggregating centers for antonomasia, a perennial and friendly struggle for the primacy of conviviality - was the performance theater of Elena Bellantoni. A surreal and concrete iron arm with which the artist launched the challenge to the locals. The physical comparison has become an opportunity to reflect on the concept of resistance; at the end of the match, the artist marked a brass plate with the words that emerged from each encounter/confrontation, highlighting the psychological implications and crushing the machismo associated with the practice of the iron arm.
Always inside the bar (outside of which stands the great tag "Schizzo"), right above the foosball, there are the two works that make up the Go easy on me series. In this case, Adelaide Cioni represented the great icicles, "totem" of the artist's childhood, a symbol of desire and lightness at the same time, made through a detailed textured fabric.
Giorgia Accorsi's performance was held on the belvedere overlooking the Cavaliare's plain. Balloons of various colors and dimensions inflated with a compressor up to their explosion: a simple gesture yet capable of evoking alternate states of tension and liberation, amplified by the encounter between the idyllic landscape that was the backdrop to the performance and the rhythm of the explosions.
For all the images, ph. Giorgio Benni.