Carla Ingrasciotta: What is the Artissima Experimental Academy?
Zasha Colah: A year ago, on the invitation of Ilaria Bonacossa, Paola Nicolin had brought her on-going project the classroom to Artissima, and curated the inimitable Piper. Learning at the Discotheque as a new take to a regular curated talks program. Seb Patane, an Italian artist based in London, led the classroom. There were several conversations and workshops staged within the recreation of Piper, a 70s discotheque where Arte Povera happenings had taken place. This was a small revolution into imagining what an Art Fair can do in terms of its discursive potential, in relation to the collective memory of a city. It was at the same time a good tribute to what Artissima had always been known for: an experimental fair, with curatorial instincts.
Responding to these recent and past innovations of the fair, from this year begins Artissima Experimental Academy, an education initiative based on co-learning and cohabitation, in collaboration with Combo who provide heated tents on the fair grounds. It is important to stress that with Combo and Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT, housing and the school are entirely free.
Carla Ingrasciotta: DAF Struttura is one of the Special Projects launched by Artissima to celebrate its 25 years’ anniversary. Could you briefly introduce the project to our readers?
Zasha Colah: I invited one of the most extraordinary musicians of the last 30 years, the artist/composer Jan St Werner, and he in turn invited DAF (Dynamic Acoustic Research/ Dynamische Akustische Forschung, his class at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg) to create an environment—DAF struttura, which is traveling, itinerant and shape-shifting: a stage, an auditorium, a workspace, a thinking place, an archive, a radio station, a recording studio, and an art exhibition space. It is self-built, by the members of DAF, from recyclable sine-wave cardboard. It is a four-day experience during Artissima 2018, and is an invitation to build and inhabit an experimental free school in Turin.
The definitive experiment is what pedagogy looks like if non-hierarchical, lateral, and based on co-learning. We begin with two lectures: one an introduction to DAF struttura, its itinerant, traveling, mobile, recyclable form, and the second, a grassroots history of some experimental school structures from different moments in history, and their connection to socio-political transformation. What that means to us today, in the context of Turin/Italy, in the context of working with a collective-in-formation, and through the possibilities of relation of sound, are explored over the week.
Carla Ingrasciotta: The project is based on an international open call to 25 participants from any country and any field of study. In which way are you coordinating the selection?
Zasha Colah: Three people independently read the answers to the 4 questions of the Open Call, and we then together made a selection, so that the group would have a diversity of interests, knowledges, inner resources and strengths–to truly learn from one another. Some respondents to the call devoted a paragraph to each answer, some just a sentence, but while reading them we realised how that can carry equal weight. The coordination will be wholly based on collective learning and self-organization.
Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you tell us about the collaborative side of this project, who are the contributors involved and how did you develop this network?
Zasha Colah: I invited the Jan St. Werner, and he is the composer of the project. He invited his class DAF, Marc Matter, Matthias Singer, Yael Salomonowitz, and Moritz Simon Geist to help build different elements of struttura. Matter works on sound and text, and radio. Simon Geist on sonic robots. Singer on sonic lamps, really beautiful strange cinematic sculptures. The robots and lights function as instruments, producing sound. St. Werner on activating the space, the “instruments” and architecture. Salomonowitz on staging the material produced by all the participants. The most extraordinary is the cohesive role of the class/collective DAF. Co-inventors of the struttura, they travel from Nuremberg to Turin by van with its various parts: a gradually descending tribune and stage, and inverse pyramid seating structures; and they are the ones who build it by hand, guided by Michael Akstaller.
Carla Ingrasciotta: Which kind of audience are you aiming to attract? Which strategies have you developed to engage the public during the fair days?
Zasha Colah: Struttura opens at various times to members of the public. Struttura is composed like Various Small Fires, like walking into the Factory, or a fluxus performance space with various small activations and possibilities and experiments being worked on by different groups. We have not discussed this explicitly, but underlying this organization is that the audience experiences a kind of freedom: to walk around the space, and choose what pulls them near. Rather than huge spectacle, and manipulation of an audience, the hope is that the audience feels free; free to be shy, free to be participative. The audience will have the opportunity to tune in via a short-throw radio transmission from any point of the fair, join sonic walks, or enter within the struttura to hear lecture-performances, discussions, acoustic experiments, stagings of archival recordings, or new compositions. These will be experimentally documented by the school, and a publication and vinyl capturing these sound texts will be collectively conceived and launched early next year.
Carla Ingrasciotta: How was the collaboration with Jan St. Werner born? Which are you expectations after this project?
Zasha Colah: I invited Jan St. Werner to make a temporary school, based on a dream 4 of us (with Rosa Barba and Luca Cerizza) had shared in 2015 to create an inclusive, experimental school for sound and art in Italy inside a lighthouse. For Artissima, Jan decided to compose a school as an environment. The participants each bring distinctive exciting knowledges, and will be involved in producing new artistic works together in collaboration, during the sets called, “group experiments” that will be open to the public. The recording of these, will become a publication and vinyl, and through the week, we pay special attention to unique recording methods. We all hope, the family just grows to include these new members, in the same spirit of generosity and energy that has been DAF till this point.