May 16 – h 5 pm artist talk By Maria Nissan and Victoria DeBlassie curated by Daria Filardo There are myriad ways of tackling global issues, complicated balances, and politics that involve different areas of the world, and one of these is a physical and conceptual reflection on coffee. Coffee—a drink native to Ethiopia and spread over hundreds of years across many different parts of the planet— transnationalally combines different cultures and can just as well be symbol of a relaxed and shared moment of bonding as an element that underlines exploitation and extremely controversial global trade policies. It’s along this line that the presented work of Maria Nissan and Victoria DeBlassie operates, two young artists who have been collaborating on this theme for months. The intervention they’ve proposed for the Murate space takes ‘Interpretation of a Seed’ as its title and it is the result of questions that the artists have been asking themselves as well as of a common practice that began with the collection of coffee grounds used both in the moka machine as well as in American drip coffee that have become the raw material that once mixed with salt and flour and baked in the oven have given rise to sculptural objects. The artists have also collected the burlap sacks in which the coffee seeds themselves are transported and have been transformed into installational elements in the space. These elements, each used differently by each artist, are the common ground of a formal thought developed throughout the exhibition space. ‘Interpretation of a Seed’ takes form in two rooms on the ground floor of the Murate exhibition space, two similar but different places. One space—Maria Nissan’s—is activated by more sensorial and material characteristics with the presence of organic elements like sugar, the coffee sculptures, and the burlap sacks as chairs that invite a moment of relaxation and sharing, coffee culture viewed as an associative experience. The elements of the installation allude to the Middle Eastern culture of the artist (of Iraqi origins), to American culture, mixed with the Italian aspect where the presence of coffee is an obvious and cultural element of identity. The other room, created by Victoria DeBlassie, despite having the same elements in common with the first room, is more reminiscent of a certain type of ‘indie’ coffee house (apparently more respectful of the production processes but often in reality managed by multinationals like Starbucks), which is the case for Ethiocha Koffiehius, the name that the artist thought of for her space. Here the material elements converge in an action of conceptual protest. Elements and dates are collected on the chalkboards that underline the most complicated aspects of global trade, and affixed to the walls are images and posters that seem to allude to slogans used to capture consumers but that play with the ambiguity of the proposed messages that shifts the attention onto the hidden aspects and manipulated information. The double installation envelops the visitor both from a sensorial, material, and olfactory point of view as well as a space for thought and coming together. Starting from coffee, the two artists have spanned history and diverse geographies, reactivating our awareness of cultural, historical, and political realities, and all this just from the simple and ordinary gesture of having a coffee.
Il progetto nell’ambito di ToscanaInContemporanea 2018