Cripta747 is delight to present the results of the ongoing researches developed by the artists Andrew Wagner (New York, 1992) and Gernot Wieland (Horn, 1968) during their time in residence over the past two months. Their investigations have brought them throughout some important institutions, museums, archives and libraries of Turin as, among others, the Lombroso‘s Archive located in the same name university's museum, where both the artists have been able to study some handwritten notes and sketches, a selection of photos and unofficial documents. Then the Library of the Gramsci Institute and the historical complex of the former psychiatric hospital right outside of town, in Collegno. They have also had the opportunity to confront each other and with local and international scholars, curators, artists and editors. Following these encounters their research path has taken on new directions and it has been enriched by reflections and intuitions. The open studio is the most significant moment of residency. It condenses and return the research - both material and conceptual - developed during the months of residence. It offers to the public, and the artists involved, the chance to see, discuss and test topics and processes related to the works shown, whether the outcome is a work-in-progress, a paper, an event or an exhibition.
In Andrew Wagner’s practice, disparate histories and discourses entangle into narratives humorous and pathetic. In inter-connected works that span video, drawing, sculpture, writing, and sound, threads of narratives pick-up and leave-off, tracing the ways in which desire and everyday emotion both do and don’t coalesce into political yearnings. Drawing upon the logic and language of animation and cartoons, Wagner’s works picture a world both hysterically extra-ordinary and mundanely realist.While in residence, Wagner continued work on “Victory over the Sun!”, an episodic video work that takes loose inspiration from the 1913 Russian Futurist opera of the same name. The work follows a cast of semi-animate, non-human characters assembled from discarded clothing, bits of paper, and other refuse. The videos dip in-and-out of the everyday half-lives of these characters as they navigate a world buckling from toxins, violence, and other bad news.At Cripta747, Wagner’s research revolved around the psychology of both reactionary and revolutionary political movements, driven by the question of the role that emotions and the unconscious play in forming people’s often contradictory political attitudes. Such research considered Wilhelm Reich’s book On the Mass Psychology of Fascism, an attempt to explain Nazi Germany’s turn to fascism through psychoanalytic concepts. Wagner also looked into the history of Italian social movements, including Gramsci and the resistance to fascism in the twenties as well as the Autonomía movement in the seventies. Additionally, Wagner conducted research in Turin’s Cesare Lombroso archives, looking specifically at Lombroso’s studies of tattoos and spiritualism in the nineteenth century, to consider the ways in which vernacular forms of pictorial languages express unconscious sentiments.
Since a long time one of Wieland’s main interest has been psychological conditions. On this topic he addressed also the research started in residency at Cripta747. Until the late 1970s psychiatric patients were locked up under inhumane situations. Under the influence of modern psychiatrists, an extensive reform of the homes began. Actors, writers, artists and musicians were invited to collaborate together with patients. His study starts from one institution in Turin which, in the early 80ties, wanted to perform "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the book of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, with actors from both outside and inside the institution. The theatrical performances should have the character of a catharsis for the society. They planned also a tour with performances in other psychiatric hospitals in Italy . Unfortunately, the play has never been performed, because the institution was closed down before the debut., The artist plans to re-enact the theater piece for a film, based on the letter archives and on documentary images. He is interested in the psychological dimension of the piece. Slavoj Zizek interpreted the birds as the incarnation of the Lacanian "real": a traumatic phenomenon that comes from outside into reality which is beyond that of causality and not conceivable through thought and language.For the open studio Gernot Wieland will show some stills of the project he has worked on during the residency, accompany by an unpublished text, and the video “Thievery and Songs”, already presented in 2016 and based on a thoroughly research including stories of animals and psychotherapists, memories of Wieland´s catholic education, the religious-like indoctrination of the Viennese actionists in Austrian culture, a transformation into a snail, which by the turns of narrative, bears a relationship to landscapes, the notion of memory and hierarchy and a therapeutic session.
In addition to the open studio, Cripta747 Residency Programme, is accompanied by events and participatory workshops which aim to engage the audience directly with the artists in residence, their research and the artistic production processes.
The workshop “What are we looking at? And who is looking?”, led by Gernot Wieland, aimed to drew attention to where artistic research can lead. It was expressly addressed to last years high school students and scholars of both the Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Turin who did not know each other before. No prior knowledge or experience of artistic practice was required to the participants. Workshops and lectures-performances are common practices in Wieland's method, he regards them as an artistic piece. To break the ice, as he is used to do, the artist has asked to the participants to prove themselves with some practical exercises, as making several potato prints, a very simple activity which reminds us of childhood games and in which, basically, no one can fail,.But it has included also more intimate moments which have faced personal stories, psychoanalysis, poetry, imagination and concentration. It has been a messed up experience, but really fun!
While Andrew Wagner has organised a reading and discussion group on language, capitalism, and refusal titled Just Say “No”. It tried to contextualize our present crisis of discourse by looking at a variety of writers who have sought to examine the ways that language and speech becomes co-opted and manipulated by oppressive regimes. German psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, in "Mass Psychology of Fascism", wondered why the masses of workers in his contemporaneous Germany failed to revolt against capitalist institutions, instead aligning themselves with the fascist ideology of the Nazis. Nearly a century later, Franco 'Bifo' Berardi, in The Uprising, highlights how language—and in turn, social thought—has become totally subsumed by a capitalist machine, leading to a state in which the traditional ideals of progressive politics are un-achievable. Bifo suggests that poetry, which refuses capitalism's emphasis on language's utility, offers a means of resistance. This suggestion becomes echoed by poet Lyn Hejinian's essay "Barbarism", in which she calls on poetry to refuse to speak the same language that produced such horrors as Auschwitz. Anne Boyer's prose poem "No" offers a meditation on strategies for saying "no" and refusing a society that asks us to choose amongst several bad outcomes. Using these writers as a basis, the workshop has followed in the form of an open discussion to consider what possibility we hold to resist participating further in a society that seems to be rapidly careening towards social collapse.