Rä Di Martino, an Italian artist and one of the most interesting visual artists working within the international scene, presented her work on the relationships between cinema and visual arts. During the course of her talk she showed five short films that were shot between 2006 and 2009, alongside clips from two feature-length films shot in 2014 and 2017.
film 16mm transferred to digital video
In a scorching and deserted Rome rendered in black and white, the protagonist indulges in a conversation that turns out to be an internal monologue, whilst they look for an interaction and reaction from their singular interlocutor, who remains silent. Misunderstood, almost trapped in those glimpses where the presence of a human gives way to vegetation and architecture, they finally abandon the scene, with a rhythm of emotion that breaks off at a certain point, as if for no reason.
film 16mm transferred to digital video
A collaboration with Archivio LUCE di Cinecittà in Rome, which owns most of the TV news footage that was shown in cinemas between 1930 and 1970. The audio comes from some of these old news-reels, in particular those that have features on the television becoming a standard accessory in the home. These audio tracks alternate with interviews with people speaking about intimate and personal memories on the theme of television. Two actors, positioned on a hill and framed as if they were in a wooden room, reconstruct all of the voices, word by word.
The picture of ourselves
Through the sharp black and white tones, a young girl stares at us, arms seemingly raised towards the sky. Then the vision changes and we see a man holding her legs, holding her upside down. The two characters scrutinise us, without judgement, and trigger an intimate connection between them and us.
Authentic news of invisible things
During the year that marked the hundredth anniversary of the start of the great war, Rä Di Martino presented a film from Bolsano which was inspired by dummy tanks, a piece of militaristic jargon to describe fake tanks that were used in the first and second world wars to fool the enemy, and which are still used to this day. Whilst in real war they use props, and in cinema they often use real tanks, an irony the highlights the crossover between reality and fiction. The video shows a road in the centre of Bolsano, whilst a group of extras dressed in period clothes stare at a fake tank. The presence of this curious military vehicle does not seem to overly disturb the atmosphere of the scene. The distance created between the observer and the image that is represented in black and white gets shattered through the vision of a real tank driving through the streets of Bolsano in the second video. No fiction, no extras: the artist filmed the reactions of the passers-by as a real war machine passed in front of them.
The show MAS go on
MAS, an acronym of Magazzini allo Statuto, was a luxury department store which opened in Rome at the beginning of the last century. Gone were the chandeliers that once lit the striped carpet, at the time of its closure in 2017, Mas had become a much more down-to-earth discount department store. Thousands of square metres, an incalculable amount of dust, but above all a vast and colourful display of humanity: from drag-queens to Romanian carers, from young Moldovan spouses to nuns sifting through disorganised bargain bins choosing underwear. This cult location became the set and main character of Rä Di Martino’s film, her camera lingers on the people who pass through it, intertwined with written scenes and cinematic references, as a way of trying to restore its spirit, potentiality and energy. The film won the SIAE prize at the Festival del Cinema di Venezia in 2014, as well as the Gillo Pontecorvo prize, and was given a special mention at Nastri d’Argento.
A small troupe wanders around Marrakech and its surroundings in search of swimming pools and locations in order to shoot the remake of an American film in which a man crosses a country to reach his home by swimming from pool to pool. Corrado, a stunt double, starts doing takes to find his own way through the city and the pools that the main character will swim through. He feels he has all the dignity of an actor and wants to show that he could be as good as any other professional actor. As we watch him get into difficulty, we begin to see the real actors and the crew working on the set with all the usual doubts and screams. A film that looks for where the real film is.
single & double channel video installation
The video transports the viewer into a suspended and indefinite time frame, without a reference point: deserted areas, surfaces that seem to belong to other planets or a land now devoid of atmosphere. In this world lives a little community of survivors of an environmental disaster. The objects, images and sounds of the past have become the only ways in which these newly born tribes can identify themselves. The artist is the author and at the same time a spectator of a work of her own making, in which every element – set, digital landscapes, characters, clothes and sounds – amplifies the paradoxical relationship between the real and the imagined. In this science-fiction scenario, Rä di Martino constructs a clear imaginary world but leaves the story open, precisely because of the impossibility of giving substance to a post-apocalyptic space and time that is plausible and universally recognisable. The project was developed with the support of the Mibac Italian Council prize (2018), and in collaboration with Fondazione Volume, the Kunstmuseum in St.Gallen, and Mostyn in Wales.