Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beijing-based Alessandro Rolandi's new performance video, "Born Again? No, I?m Not" & the human bread chain

"BORN AGAIN? NO, I?M NOT" 2011, performance video by Alessandro Rolandi, photo courtesy of the artist

BORN AGAIN? NO, I?M NOT
A performance video by Alessandro Rolandi
You can watch the video at: 

http://vimeo.com/28541038  password: born

Beijing-based contemporary artist and academic Alessandro Rolandi´s spiritual video, "Born Again? No, I?m Not" opened Saturday, 1 October in Verona, Italy at the ArtVerona Internatiional Art Fair

From there it opens in Milan, then in Cairo and Jordan, Rolandi said.

Alessandro Rolandi´s artist´s statement for Born Again? No, I?m Not


"The video uses the situations and the rhythms of the golden era of mute cinema and the likes of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, etc., to build a contemporary, ironical sketch on the topic of religion and spirituality.

"The character, wearing a mental institution uniform, (perhaps a prison outfit or old-fashioned bathhouse one) is creating the three symbols of the Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish religions.


"The word Allah is made with azime bread.


"The Star of David is made with Christian ostias bread.


"The Cross is made with Arab pitta bread.


"In all religions bread is the simplest and most important food; all religions are considered 'nourishement for the spirit' and often use bread as the key food for rituals.


"The character conducts a presumably 'naive' action, playing with the symbols and the types of bread.


"It is as though he wants to feed on all of them, yet at the same time, he asks himself, 'Are they really different?'

"Why? 

"How?

"After drawing the symbols with the bread, he [Rolandi] starts dancing around them and eating them in a sort of euphoria.

"During this process he sees the symbols mixing one into another and in a semi-conscious condition, he creates a new image, a landscape with a mountain and a house.


"Then he simply looks at it and comfortably lays down inside the house of bread and sleeps."

Alessandro Rolandi--Beijing 2011



Alessandro Rolandi, age 40, is artist in residence at Harrow International School, Beijing since 2003, teaching art and experimental theatre. He has taught or lectured in eight schools, including the Institut d´Edudes de Paris. He is also a film maker, actor, theatre director and author. Rolandi, born in Pavia, Italy, has staged at least 12 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 23 group shows.




Alessandro Rolandi, photo courtesy of the artist



His mission:


"I observe, borrow, change and document reality to create possibilities that challenge our current socio-political structures and point out the effects they have on our daily life and on our scheme of thought."











Curator Cecilia Freschini asked
Rolandi to create a work on spirituality.
 
"Art should open new territories to itself. This is what great artists did...enlarge the spectre, the territory, the mapping process."


--Alessandro Rolandi, October 2011

I asked Rolandi to prepare an essay specifically for this post discussing the pathos and ethos behind "Born again? No, I?m not".


This is his exclusive to ArtTraveler:


"Along the years I realized that the more I wanted to keep my spirituality alive, the less I had to talk about it or share it or explain it.

"We live in a media-dominated and manipulated society where acceleration and competition actually put "a little war machine" in every aspect of life.

Untitled by Alessandro Rolandi Photograph courtesy of the artist
"Whenever we fall into the trap of delivering our message in a 'serious' way, we somehow propose to substitute our own idea/vision/message to the mainstream one we are attacking.

"With religion--no matter which one--this risk runs much higher.

"The French defined and defended 'laicism' for a longtime, or briefly, 'the separation between Church (religion in absolute terms) and State.'

"This principle becomes vital to preserve the possibility of an open dialogue between different cultures.

"Spirituality and religion are, in my opinion, better cultivated and preserved within the personal and intimate sphere of individuals.

"Whenever they bypass it, they become suspicious and potentially harmful to mutual tolerance and understanding.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Ign56mFB0Fs/TYY8sLlbbFI/AAAAAAAAAqI/xmqWOcQVKJo/s1600/FORMLESS+Old+Beijing+man.jpg
"Old Beijing Man" by Alessandro Rolandi Photograph courtesy of the artist
"My video adopts this principle and develops it using a simplified version of the language of mute-comic movies since their early tradition.

"I rely on humor as a weapon to test both people's 'good intentions' and intelligence. We all know that the 'fool' is the only one allowed to whisper an uncomfortable truth to king's ear.

"If I try to remember art works capable of instigating or provoking public attention and infiltrating people's minds with the only purpose of making them think, I end up thinking about Charlie Chaplin or Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, or the caustic early works of Maurizio Cattelan.

Alessandro Rolanding performing his "Born Again, No, I?m Not" 2011 video Photograph courtesy of the artist

"Today as never before, we should be able to deal with increasingly different and contrasting logics, lifestyles, proposals and visions by studying, preserving and protecting variety and difference.

"We can create a 'global civil association' driven by intelligence and sensitivity that can try to find local or specific solutions in economics, society and politics to avoid disaster.

"For this reason, not only academism and post-modernism in art but also art as mere practice itself needs to be bypassed to play a meaningful role in society. 


"Creating impacting art means we need to use all tools and all knoweldge to trigger responses.

"On another level, the video functions as a documentation of an action, an action which is a game in which a message and a wish are conveyed through simple and symbolic signs and elements (the body, the clothes, the concrete floor, the bread, the funny dance, the religious symbols, the action of eating ).

"Bread Tree" by Alessandro Rolandi

"Performance, documented by video allows technology to become functional to body expression, instead of the other way around (an actual tendency).

"This expresses the purpose to find again a connection between body and desire in a time when entertainment technology is in the process of splitting the two.

"Leaving desire free of meaning allows it freedom to feed itself on an everlasting, virtual feedback of compulsive behaviors in which meaning and awareness are totally absent.

"The living body, the performing body, resists alienation and puts forward the complexity, the fragility and the subtleness of creativity. 

"A meaningful use of technology enlarges the territory of communication and the quality of experience by means of integration instead of substitution, creating new possibilities.


"Art should open new territories to itself. This is what great artists did...enlarge the spectre, the territory, the mapping process."


Islamic art and design at Granada´s Alhambra, photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler (TM)

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpure or mosaics workshops. See: www.spanjeanders.nl. and www.competafinearts.com.

Contact me about arts happenings: stefanvandrake@gmail.com or call (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.





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