“L’immagine sparita” (The Vanished Image) is an audiovisual performance that reflects on the collective “commons” of a once revolutionary time and place and the process of its commodification. Combining spoken word, improvised music and live video mixing, the performance pulls from a video archive of Syrian peaceful activists who became self-taught image-makers and original footage on the excavation of marble in the quarries of Massa-Carrara, Italy.
The performance is a lyrical and poetic journey through the forgotten archives of the peaceful phase of the Syrian revolution. In particular, the personal archive of the pacifist activist Bassel Khartabil Safadi, who died in 2015 in a Syrian prison, offers the opportunity for a journey of speech, sound and music inside a repressed 2011—a year that saw peoples rebel against injustice and exploitation. The performance is a tribute to pacifist activists, and in particular to citizens who, armed with a video camera or smartphone, documented at great personal risk protests, sit-ins, and actions of civil disobedience in Syria throughout 2011; images which were removed or deleted from social media, ignored by mainstream media, and which marked a phase in history that risks being forgotten. To these “images in spite of everything”, as the French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman called them, the performance brings attention.
The audiovisual performance is based on Donatella Della Ratta’s scholarly work on the destiny of the Syrian image, it’s past (archiving) and future (visibility, distribution) in the context of networked media. Theoretical reflection has developed together with Marco G. Ferrari’s artistic practice of detournement and live-manipulation of visuals. As a result the performance contains a mixture of the scholarly format of the academic lecture with lyrical and performative moments in which Ferrari remixes live a rare archive of creative resistance and civil disobedience from Syria. These image sequences are then supported or juxtaposed by the improvised music by the Roman based quartet Chincuales, who blend electronic and traditional instrumentations, forming an energy that oscillates between harmony and abstraction.
As the musical and the visual expressions are improvised, spoken word is the one constant. Within each performance new imagery from the archive may be introduced, or past images are shown in new formations, allowing the possibility of an evolution within the work to be explored further in the following rendition. The performances use as a prelude, videos of the excavation of Massa-Carrara marble, a more traditional material used to build images, yet rooted in the act of exploitation and labor issues, which have inspired past anarchist movements. In these opening scenes, the technological relationship between man and the environment are reflected in the mechanical repetition of cuts into the marble, acting as a metaphor for the building of a story yet to become.
– Donatella Della Ratta (aka LuluShamiyya) is a writer, performer, and curator specializing in Arab media and cultures. She is co-founder and board member of the website SyriaUntold, recipient of the Digital Communities award at Ars Electronica 2014.
– Marco G. Ferrari is an artist based in Chicago, USA and Rome, Italy. He builds films, installations, digital images, video projection performances and music that explore our relationships with place and time, to probe how identity is shaped by tensions raised by our attachments to or de-attachments from our built and natural environments.
– Chincuales (quartet): Ludovica Manzo (voice, live sampler) ; Luca Venitucci (accordian, electronics); Giacomo Ancillotto (guitar, electronics); Igor Legari (double bass)
– Symposia #5––Delay or Die, NONE Collective, Rome, Italy, May 26, 2018, http://simposio.none.business
– The Revolutions Won’t Be Televised, Esc Atelier, Rome, Italy, May 24, 2018, https://www.dinamopress.it/news/event/the-revolutions-wont-be-televised-immagini-archivi-dalle-rivolte-del-2011/
– Siria: l’immagine sparita; improvvisazione voce-video-suono, Ex Asilo Filangieri di Napoli, Naples, Italy, April 19, 2018. Co-sponsored by Centro Studi Postcoloniali e di Genere (CSPG), Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, http://www.exasilofilangieri.it/siria-limmagine-sparita-improvvisazione-voce-video-suono/
– What’s left of the Syrian Revolution, International Journalism Festival, Perugia, Italy, April 12, 2018, https://www.journalismfestival.com/programme/2018/whats-left-of-the-syrian-revolutio
– Logos festival della Parola: Rivoluzione 2017, Csoa Ex Snia, Parco delle Energie, Sala T, Rome, Italy. http://www.logosfest.org/programma-logos-2017/
Videos of Performances
– “Immagina Sparita” (The Vanished Image), 2017-18, audiovisual performance, 30 min. approx. *This 4 minute promotional video (edited by Barbara Greco) is a condensed version of the performance at “Whats left of the Syrian Revolution” part of the International Journalism Festival, Perugia, Italy, April 12, 2018.
– What’s left of the Syrian Revolution, International Journalism Festival, Perugia, Italy, April 12, 2018. Complete performance. https://youtu.be/6HySfyN2Nbc
– Cinema espanso: “Pensa” e “L’immagine sparita”, Logos Festival, Cosa Ex Snia, Roma. https://vimeo.com/241262122