Lisa Dalfino and Sacha Kanah

1. Dreaming

In a recent dream I had during the design phase for Immersione Libera, I found myself discussing how to make a stone performance with Lisa and Sacha. We were sitting on the floor of the Bagni Misteriosi terrace, with my back to the pool, facing them, and as we talked about this new work the performance began to take shape in the space above the courtyard, slow, organic and blue in colour. I could follow the changing reflections on the wall behind the artists, while they progressively created their form through their gaze.

The research of Dalfino and Kanah is based on the tendency to look where no one is looking, to take non-human points of view and the constant activation of osmotic walls between natural phenomena and artificial contexts.

Artists use palettes of chemical and physical reactions to bring back to life frescoes of human and natural collaborations buried and forgotten under layers of anthropocentric occurrences, layers deposited upon our way of perceiving everyday life during long periods in which it felt like human beings had some kind of superiority over the rest of the universe.

The use of science in their work is not an end, but one of the tools to arrive at the “fantastic”, to activate portals of magic and wonder that allow us to concretely grasp the existence of that division between reality and the real of which Mark Fisher writes about in Capitalist Realism.

2. A nutcracker for crows

Before visiting the exhibition site in person, the artists observed it from above, from a bird’s eye view, on Google Maps. Inspecting it from that perspective, they noticed a series of black dots on the wooden tiles of the terrace around the skylight. During their physical inspection, their attention was focused on finding these dots. The satellite images had been taken in a different season from that of their visit, perhaps in a moment of autumnal inactivity, so the items they were looking for were probably removed during cleaning. According to Dalfino and Kanah, these missing elements were small heaps of walnut shells, an interesting fact, given that there are no walnuts in the area. Crows are very intelligent creatures who have learned to survive in anthropic environments by devising a series of tricks in which they exploit human activity to procure food. For example, they take walnuts to busy roads so that the cars break their shells as they pass. They also learned that cars stop when the traffic light turns red, so they can collect food undisturbed.

Another strategy they use to break walnut shells is to drop them onto particularly hard surfaces, preferably in places that are not heavily frequented. To re ne the operation, they perform a series of tests to verify the hardness of materials. The hypothesis of the artists is that the skylight of the Bagni Misteriosi terrace was chosen by the crows of Milan as an excellent nutcracker.

3. During a free dive

For Dalfino and Kanah, each artwork needs an area from which to draw energy to fuel its material presence. In turn, I believe that a material artwork distributes quanta of this energy to the space in which it is placed.

Following this principle, the wild activity in the sky above the Bagni Misteriosi is a reservoir of clean energy that can feed a series of new works, as many as all the perspective lines converging in the infinite vanishing points one can imagine while looking out from the terrace, making the gaze wander onto the courtyard.

The work that the artists have decided to undertake focuses on the air: with minimal material actions made of exothermic reactions, they have given shape to wild landscapes hidden in zones situated between a place built by man and the observer that momentarily lives in it.
It is an attempt to remove meaning, to return to a pre-linguistic dimension, in which the removal of a piece in the process of knowledge can allow evolution to continue on different paths.

4. In the Bagni Misteriosi

The sculptural elements presented for Immersione Libera were conceived as models extracted from a project by the artists for the architecture of the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York. The exhibition is entirely set up in the museum’s ventilation system, inside those spaces that serve the purpose of providing the interior with air and heat, mediating its relationship with the external environment, zones present and fundamental yet hidden from the eyes of spectators.

The ducts give shape to the air and convey it to museum visitors, who breathe it in. In some ways, the pulmonary slits are an archive of chemical memories that preserves powdered samples collected in the places in which we have breathed.

The result is ambivalent: a synthetic ecosystem born of the interstices of an organic, spiral-like and idealized architecture.

An intervention realized as guest curators in the context of

Immersione Libera

A project by Marina Nissim

Curated by Giovanni Paolin

In collaboration with Galleria Continua, Associazione Pier Lombardo, Teatro Franco Parenti

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