La Mente Fresca
For several weeks a number of persons in Villasor were confronted with my daily, perpetual reappearance as tourist who does the same actions every day: at the stationary shop, the coffee bar, the post office and the castle. The persons working there became the involuntary "patrons" of the project and tried to make sense of it all.
My friend and fellow residency artist of Le Ville Matte, Augusto Buzzegoli, accompanied me on one of my tours to talk with some of the involved persons about their thoughts and reactions in the course of LA MENTE FRESCA.
A conversation with LICIA ABIS and COLETTE PODDI —
both working at the Castello Siviller in Villasor
AUGUSTO BUZZEGOLI (AB): Licia, how would you respond if Markuz requested a guided tour at the castle for the duration of one year? Every day for a year!
LICIA ABIS (LA): Showing him around the castle every day for an entire year??! Forget it, now way! We can't do this tour for more than a month. If Markuz wants to do the tour for a year it means that we need a written request: Then we would decide, yes, at a certain day we can do the tour, and at another day we just can't... Does this make sense? No, not every day, because in that case it becomes bothersome.
AB: But the guided tour could be the same every day and would be less troublesome to do?
LA: Always the same tour? Well, then (...) there is perhaps also an upside where I get to learn to speak English... First English and then even some Japanese...
AB: What about learning German from Markuz?
AB: Well, Japanese is maybe not that useful?
LA: Yes, that's indeed true.
LA: Colette, let me ask you a question: How would you feel if Markuz came here every day to ask for a guided tour for an entire year?
Colette Poddi (CP): In response to that we could simply "get sick" for three months...
LA: Yes, I see. Well, we should also must take advantage of the situation: One month you do the tour every day, the other month I take over. That way we're learning more about the history of the castle... That makes me wonder how much Markuz has learnt about the castle's history. Because at the end of this project I would like to do an exam with him on what he got out of all these tours! Me, the professor, and yes, he is the student.
AB: Do you want to do his exam in Italian or English?
LA/CP: Certainly in Italian!
AB: How did you experience Markuz' daily reappearance and how did things evolve over time?
LA: On the first day I didn't think much. On the second day all seemed okay to me. Also on the third day I felt okay and told myself, well, obviously he is very interested in this place and he wants to learn more about the castle. One, two, three, four days, went by like this. But after five, or six days and into the second week I had to confront Markuz when he once again requested yet another guided tour. I looked at him and simply said: "Oi puru!" It is Sardinian and means "today, once more!".
AB: What did you think about the salt piles?
LA: It looked somewhat Japanese to me... I said to myself: "but will it also appear every day?" At first I was careless not to notice the thing on the ground in front of the castle's gate. Then I saw it and asked him if he was putting out the salt and palm leaf. Since then I tried to understand why he is doing it every day... Maybe there is a disconnect in the communication or something, but I don't get what his objective is. Because the information Markuz acquires here every day [through the guided tours] seems to be erased at the end of each day. The next day he starts over and resumes the process. The information that he acquired is put aside, and the day after the things are back to default, maybe like a little brush sweeping things blank. I wonder if Markuz is currently learning how to remember things again... Maybe I am wrong here, however, I realize that this setup makes for novel situations every day. In any case among other things, I must say that we also became very good friends. On some mornings when Markuz was late to shop up we [the staff at the castle] asked ourselves: "Where is he today, why has Markuz not come yet?!" We started to expect him to show up...
AB: What did you know about Markuz' work before the project?
LA: And I knew nothing. When he came here first to request a tour, I knew nothing...
AB: But you have associated him with the group of guest artists in town?
LA: Yes indeed. Because I was at the public presentation at the beginning of Le Ville Matte. I knew that he was part of the group, but did not know about his work. The first guided tours were provided by Antonello and Colette who both speak a little English (while me and Michela don't speak any English. Then Antonello [our media technician at the castle] searched the Internet. and showed us some of Markuz art projects. One morning Antonello showed some of that online material to Markuz who just replied: "These things are so old..." Since then I am teasing Markuz with the remark that there are unfortunately no public telephones [reference to The Payphone Memorial project] left in Italy...
AB: Soon there will be the final exhibition where the reasoning behind this project will be further explained...
LA: I'm also very curious about this. I hope that in the end we will find out what the objective was behind this project. I wonder if it can be fully explained or whether we always will be left with open questionsc I wonder what the ultimate goal is of this. Who knows what his original idea was and how it affected us all? I am looking forward to learning more about the project's motivation.
AB: Markuz mentioned to me that he liked the tour you gave him yesterday when you got quiet inventive...
LA: Markuz was eagerly searching a portrait of Signor Siviller, the founder of this castle. There are no paintings on the walls. So when Markuz pointed to the only iconographic wall relief of a saint and asked if that's the portrait of Signor Siviller, I said "yes, why not." No one ever thought that it might be Siviller's portrait but then again, we have no other depiction of him to prove otherwise...
AB: One important aspect in this project is that all participants — like yourself — are getting involuntarily engaged. You pulled off a substantial portion of creativity in the process, in the sense that you even started to invent stories in the guided tours...
LA: Oh yes, I believe so! It is about the whole process. In fact, many of us, I think, can't comprehend much of the end results presented in contemporary art. What we see, for most of us is weird stuff and we ask ourselves: "what does this mean, what is it?" Contrary in this project, I believe, that we had the honor to be directly involved in many ways. I heard previously about this art initiative [Le Ville Matte] that would involve citizens. It said that people could become an active part of the projects but I kept asking myself in what manner this could be done. Now I start to experience little by little what this could mean...
AB: Each artist in their own, respective ways has tried to get inside community...
LA: Also it makes you better understand what the meaning of contemporary art can be. Most of us look at things in a different way. There is art you see and you admire. By seeing one of your interpretations &mdash whether like it or not &mdash I can recognize that contemporary art is after something different that first I did not understand. I am realizing little by little that it is about how it involves you. At least this project here is doing work that involves all of us in ways where everyone feels as an active part of something bigger. [...] Somehow this project got to all of us...
AB: Very well put, Licia!
Project Participants: Licia Abis, Colette Poddi, Michela Onnis, Antonio Kikiki, Roberta Pistis, Marcello & Eleonora Corda, Maria Lampis, Piero C.
Interpretation and Translations: Augusto Buzzegoli.
Project Support: Rupen Boyadjan, Yuka Saitô, Eva Petrič.
Guest Curator: Chiara Agnello.
Organizers and Coordinators: Giorgio Murtas, Francesca Sassu from the Provincia di Cagliari - Assessorato Politiche Culturali e Promozione Sportiva.
Visiting Professor: Giancarlo Norese.
Momentarium creates situations where our very presence becomes the catalyst for shifting experiences we can integrate into our lives by fusing reality with co-created artifice.