Jesse Bonnell e Gabriella Rhodeen (GRJB)

GRJB Jesse Bonnell (Neuchâtel, 1985) e Gabriella Rhodeen (New Haven, 1989)

Una Boccata d’Arte 2021, Jesse Bonnell e Gabriella Rhodeen (GRJB), Flag Semaphores 2020-21. Pietragalla (PZ), Basilicata. Courtesy: Fondazione Elpis e Galleria Continua. Ph. Giovanni Lancellotti

The artistic duo will realize a site-specific work in the village of Pietragalla, in Basilicata. Made up of Jesse Bonnell (Neuchâtel, 1985) and Gabriella Rhodeen (New Haven, 1989), GRJB questions the relationship between individuals, community and the environment in which they live, through videos, films, drawings, sculptures and performances. In 2012, Bonnell won the MacDowell Fellowship and has since participated in several residencies such as Rotterdamse Schouwburg in the Netherlands. His work has been featured in numerous institutions, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, The Getty Villa and the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. Rhodeen has performed at public venues such as Human Resources Los Angeles; REDCAT, Los Angeles; HERE Arts Center, New York; and Strasnoy Theater, Moscow, Russia. For more info: and Their Elpis collaborator is Aloisia Leopardi.

«Flag Semaphores is our response to a year of unending dissonance. Contained by collective suspension, this moment continually defined in real time as Historic, was in constant conflict with the total and sudden compression of our daily lives. The heightened state of stasis. It is an exploration of this sensation; at once disorienting and daily».

The exhibition

Flag Semaphores 2020-21

curated by Aloisia Leopardi

Flag Semaphores is a site-specific art installation that is presented in selected locations throughout the village of Pietragalla. Comprised of a sculpture, eighteen works on paper, three multimedia video works and a live performance, the project documents the outcomes of the past year through the stories found within rural communities of the Basilicata Region.
The main work consists of a jib sail with the words Abracadabra embroidered on it. Abracadabra, an ancient, widely known, magic formula, was originally engraved on precious stones, guaranteeing health and protection from diseases to its bearer. Carlo Levi describes the use of Abracadabra in Basilicata’s rural villages in his memoir Christ Stopped at Eboli, one of GRJB’s primary sources and inspirations. In the book, Levi recounts the experience of his own exile in Basilicata. Examining and reframing the text, GRJB found profound resonance between the author’s own time and the period of pandemic and political upheavals in which we find ourselves today.
Looking at place as identity, GRJB have been conducting a series of interviews with the local residents of Pietragalla. Woven into the video works and performance these invite the public to remember the experiences of this past year, whilst establishing a dialogue with the traditions that the communities of this Region have preserved to this day.

Free access to outdoor installations except for the House-Museum of Rural Life. To book your visit:
Pro Loco of Pietragalla
Aloisia Leopardi

The village

Pietragalla, Basilicata

40°45’13.4″N 15°50’37.5″E

Una Boccata d’Arte 2021, Jesse Bonnell e Gabriella Rhodeen (GRJB), Flag Semaphores 2020-21. Panoramic view of Pietragalla (PZ), Basilicata. Courtesy: Fondazione Elpis e Galleria Continua. Ph. Giovanni Lancellotti

Pietragalla is a village in Basilicata with 3,992 residents in the province of Potenza, which is 23km away. The name probably derives from «Pietra Gialla» (yellow stone), in reference to the yellow tuff used to construct the local houses. It is mainly known for its palmenti, cellar-caves dug in the rock and still used today to preserve wine.

→ Download the press release
→ Download the invitation

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