Alice Visentin in her studio. Ph. © Pietro Mezzano.
The visual references in Alice Visentin’s works, which include hats, walking sticks, and long dresses, are taken from the culture and land of her mountain communities of origin. This exploration of her cultural background has given the artist insight into how knowledge is produced through rituals and oral histories, as well as how these processes lend new meanings to objects and encounters.
“Dances, small ‘flash groups’ and choirs were, in the past, a source of prestige, of fervid artistic activity. They also gave an excuse for social gathering and coming together. Reactivating the spontaneous vitality that was once the norm, and that collective passion, is key for a happy social life.”
“Il comizio, la merenda, il canto”
curated by Matthew Noble
Visentin conceived Il comizio, la merenda, il canto (The assembly, the snack, the song) as a three-part project to give back to the village and as an occasion for social aggregation.
The comizio (assembly) is an installation in the Castello dei Signori di Avise, covered with cards and large drawings of groups and gatherings, stories that have been listened to and then reinterpreted, and texts of popular songs and lengthy written stories. Accompanying the installation are the pictorial works “Io ed Anna” (Anna and me), showcasing what was, for Alice, a period of intense shared happiness, and “Congresso di strane religioni” (Congress of strange religions), which consists of eight wooden silhouettes that, according to the artist, speak to future possibilities amid the recent period of isolation.
The merenda (snack) is one of the gifts to the village of Avise. It is a shared social moment between the village’s residents and its visitors. Alongside the singing choir, this Sunday snack aims to stimulate local energy and nurture a sense of community belonging.
The canto (singing) is an onstage chorus, brought to life by “social sculptures”: many people harmonizing with each other, linked together at the same moment. Coro Bajolese was the choir invited to perform at the opening.
Avise, Valle d’Aosta
The village of Avise. Courtesy: the municipality of Avise.
Avise is a small municipality in the Valle d’Aosta located near the Pierre Taillée gorge, a must-stop stretch on the ancient road of Gaul, built by the Romans to reach France. Being in a position to control commercial traffic on the transalpine road helped foster the development and wealth of the feud of the Signori di Avise (Lords of Avise), one of the oldest noble families in the Valle d’Aosta. Emblematic of the family’s importance is the castle at the entrance of the evocative village, built at the end of the 15th century, flanked by a quadrangular tower decorated with small carinated arches in the upper portion. The ceiling of the second floor hall hall deserves a special mention; it is set on seven main beams supported by fourteen shelves engraved with human and animal figures.