Peripheral Memories is a trip between the past and present in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. It is the tale of an industrial growth process and the subsequent demobilization in the areas of the extreme northeastern border: the Julian Alps and the Karst, the Udinese foothills and the Isonzo River.
These territories were targets, in the nineteenth century, of the growth of defensive and war economies: the presence of the border has determined a phase of militarization and industrialization aimed to exploit the territory and the hard-working population. These economies have proved to be “transitional”: they used resources only pro tempore, moving their range elsewhere when the historical conditions changed. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, a disinvestment process started in the area profoundly affecting both the lives of nature and man.
The territory appears dotted by ghost-places: former barracks and factories, industrial archaeology sites nestled in the mountain and hilly landscape stand out deserted and silent. They represent a centuries-old legacy, not only a matter of the nineteenth century: they are the inheritance of an idea, of the Karst and Julian walls as a watershed between West and East (the Ottoman world, then Yugoslav-Balkan one, and finally Russian world) and as a border to guard and to be exploited to feed defensive economies. The aesthetics of the border territory is therefore defined by the presence “at altitude” of mines, iron and steel industries and abandoned paper mills which, like the skeletons of pachyderms and dinosaurs, insinuate themselves into the territory (and under its skin) witnessing the past and paying attention to a contradictory present.
In this scenario, Peripheral Memories is also the enhancement of productive knowledge that still-active companies have been passing down for decades. These companies have a symbolic value in their belonging sector: linked to the tradition, the history and the culture of the place, they have been able to open up to innovation also through collaboration with the creative sector. The project is also the re-discovery of traditions and customs of people, the Friulian and Julian one, inextricably linked to a territory that ranges from the mountains to the coast, passing through soft hills and anthropized lowlands. It is a social and cultural investigation as well as environmental and industrial, returned to the visitor in an aesthetic key through the interaction with the ensemble of the works of art generated during the project.
The task of telling the facets of the industrial history of the area has in fact been committed to nine contemporary international artists. They entered companies and industrial archaeology sites, met entrepreneurs and workers, touched and used their materials, interviewed citizens, searched for photographs and documents in archives and museums, studied the natural environment. Every artist fed on the suggestions of four industrial sectors which for decades have represented the productive and occupational heart of the region: the metallurgicalmining sector, the textile, the nautical-naval and the coffee trade.
The exhibition consists of heterogeneous works of art resulting from the peculiar language of each artist. The plurality of creative languages winds along the irregular circularity of the exhibition space, accompanying the visitors among delicate hanging structures and installations on the ground, making them experience the warm materiality of fabric and coffee, the hardness of metal, the diversity of the video works and sounds, photographs and installations. The rarefied atmosphere, characterized by lights and shadows, takes on the role of the metaphor of the past.
2020, mixed media installation; iron, natural materials
During her residency between Udine and the province of Gorizia, Laura Santamaria identified a recurring shape: the circle.
This is a metaphor of the time which passes and transmits knowledge such as the “artisanal” working of iron (in companies such as Tre Co. Fer.) or the design of mechanisms to extract metals in the Predil Quarries.
“Carro” is a work rich in symbolism, a mnemonic path like the one taken by the artist, between knowledge and cosmologies, between a warlike past and a present made of innovation and undeniable traditions.
Prima del mare
2021; digital photographic print on plexiglass, steel and glass support
What do the yachts of the prestigious Monte Carlo Yachts company see before sailing from Monfalcone?
This is the question that Claudio Beorchia asked himself. The photographic series “Prima del Mare” evocatively tells the relationship between the world of luxury boat production and the productive, urban and social fabric of the city where the shipyards are located.
The artist connects the two poles through the photographic instrument of the passe-partout, inspired by the precious portholes of the ships of Monte Carlo from which glimpses of the territory, and work, emerge which the artist has captured in his own searches.
2021, mixed media installation; steel, zinc powder
“La Rete” by Nicola Ellis is a dynamic and multifaceted artwork. It was born from the residency carriedo out by the artist in Ferriere Nord Pittini Group and tells the resilient history of the company together with its deep conection with the territory.
The various elements that make up the installation recall the production process of the company, but also the suggestions emerged by the exploration of the Udine foothills and the Carnia, such as the 3D reproduction of the Predil Quarries sprinkled with zinc dust or the lattice grider in which is recreated the diagrams recording the tremors of the 1976 earthquake.
The union of these elements symbolically generates a network of stories, people, work and knowledge.
the possibility of an island
2021; audio-visual artwork; duration; durata: 11′ 15″
In “the possibility of an island” Vanessa Gageos highlights the contradictory relationship between freedom of navigation and the immobility of the current situation, linked to the restrictions of the pandemic but more generally to the disproportionate use of technology, often able of keeping us in a permanent state of suspension.
In the video-work, this contrast is symbolized by the continuous motion of a small boat, made with the materials of the Veleria Hannibal company, confined to a swimming pool in search of a landing place on the hoped-for island.
2021; mixed media installation ; fabric, organic pigment
The work tells the story of a city and an activity: the coffee trade in Trieste. The artist studies and mixes the suggestions of a city suspended between the nostalgia of a glorious past and a present of companies, such as Sandalj Trading Company, capable of tracing international routes that connect peoples that are only apparently distant.
The transparency of the silk on which a sign is imprinted, given by the coffee, recalls the need to look through history to read its secular events and traditions, symbolized by elements such as the Arch of Riccardo or the ancient coffee-roasting machine.
Workers leaving the factory
2020-21; audio-visual artwork; duration; 20′ 36″
What does shipyard work mean today? How has the socio-cultural scenario of the city changed?
The artist answered these questions with a series of unpublished shots and archival materials in which the her poetics and aesthetic research are intertwined with stories of people, ships and companies.
Ines Coelho Da Silva
Retrato (vão, indo, indo, indo)
2020, mixed media installation; wood, fabric, organic material
It is the portrait not of a single individual but of an entire people. The language of the forms recalls the Torviscosa’s architecture: the wooden and squared structure contrasts with the softness of the fabrics of the involved companies (Abitex and Miko) that lean on it, creating a sinuous shape capable of evoking an “alternating” dialogue between past and present, between work and territory.
Four peppercorns symbolically sustain the composition: an element so invisible but which represents a foundation of the Italian and Friulian culinary tradition, just as the people represent the foundation of its own territory.
2020-21; audio-visual artwork, duration: 18′.
Through studies and interviews, the artist makes the memory resurface in a video artwork that blends performative, sensorial and architectural elements.
The voices of those who have experienced the Amideria tell a story made up of work, passion, innovation, solidarity; the performer’s body is the means to re-live and appropriate the gestures that animated the factory, connecting them with the natural materials that were used, such as milk, rice, the water from the canal for washing jute cloths, or again, the essences of lavender for the fragrance of the starch cans.
2020-21; audio tracks; variable duration
The noises of port operations, the processing in metalworking workshops, the pressing of coffee and the carding of textile fibers are some of the sounds that inspired Yilin in the creation of these highly immersive tracks, capable of evoking those production processes that distinguish these sectors.
Inês Coelho da Silva
(1982, Nova Gorica, Slovenia) is a visual artist, poet and writer whose interdisciplinary practice blends drawing, photography, poetry and performance. By investigating neglected and often hidden stories, her passion is to rethink the dominant historical narratives, looking for details and situations in which new understandings of the present can be formed. The performative elements in her projects explore the possible projections of history into the subjective present of individuals.
(1985, Italy) is a visual artist specialized in performance art. Her artistic research aims to study the relationships that are created between the human body and the surrounding context. In particular, she is interested in the female identity within contemporary society. Marta considers performance and life closely linked together and uses to work through long-lasting self-portrait photographs, videos and site-specific illustrations where the body becomes sculpture, installation.
(1988, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) is a visual artist who works through performance, installation, video art and mixed media. Her artistic poetics blends matter – often naturally distilled pigments – and history, through photographs and archival materials, with a light but incisive touch, which collects and gives us a collective history in a new key. Quynh has been active as an artist for over a decade through a diverse corpus of work that highlights the tensions between personal and collective memory.
(1989, Bucharest, Romania) is a performer and visual artist. Her hybrid background has strongly influenced her artistic practice which develops on the border between different media and different artistic languages. Vanessa combines natural and technological elements and phenomena and her works represent an attempt to understand the dynamics and principles that govern technology, human behavior, nature and society. Her artworks are the portrait of the still open questions that the artist investigates, often expressed in an ironic way.