site/situation-specific art

l’oro in bocca (gold in the mouth) / 2017

Performative installations
Works by year

October 15, 2017 / Performative installation, curated by Pietro Gaglianò within “I cercatori d’oro” site-specific residency and workshop, for the Tuscany region project “Toscanaincontemporanea” 2017 [ in collaboration with CapoTrave-Kilowatt, Anghiari Dance Hub, Monterchi Council (AR)], Italy

This art piece was conceived within the pedagogical project “The Gold Seekers” (i cercatori d’oro); a week long residency and workshop focused on relational art for 4 under-35 artists based in Tuscany. I guided the workshop and the project with the goal of having all of us producing a relational art piece each by the end of the week. Our focus was the little medieval village that welcomed us, Monterchi.
The story:
My intent was looking for the hidden gold, made of relationships and unseen dynamics that constitute the social fabric of the village. After a whole week of investigation of the place, centred around interviewing as many inhabitants possible, I identified a “black hole”. All the villagers I talked to mentioned many different issues in terms of generational differences, political fights, historical disagreements, as well as a long list of proud habits and famous cultural heritage. But no one mentioned the existence of 7 asylum seekers, coming from different areas of Africa and based in the village. Only after asking, I understood that their presence was not really welcomed or wanted.

After meeting with the asylum seekers I became friends with Harouna, from Mali. We spent time talking about our lives and I realized that he was missing the most relevant social ritual based on his culture: making tea the traditional way, as it’s done in the Sahara desert. The teapot and the glasses were too expensive for him, he has a lot of problems in finding a job because no one trusts people in his condition. I asked him if, upon finding what we needed, he could teach me that ritual and he accepted.
I offered him the (payed)job of making tea his way the whole afternoon for one inhabitant at a time and me. I occupied an abandoned house, I put blankets on the floor, I found everything needed for a tea in the desert and I allowed each visitor, for 10 minutes only, to enjoy and discover the hidden gold in their village: a different culture and a ritual made to welcome the diverse and face their own mistrust. The place was in complete darkness and Harouna was switching the light on, every time a new visitor passed that doorframe.

credits: Harouna Samake, Ariele Savini,
Silvia Mencaroni
Matteo Coluccia, Marco Mercati
photography: Elisa Nocentini