Interview with Davide Savorani by Zoe De Luca

Zoe De Luca: Your training begins in Faenza, your hometown. What did you bring along of those early experiences?
Davide Savorani: It begins in Faenza in 1991, at the Art Institute for Ceramics. What I brought along from that experience? The teaching methods were overly focused on techniques and left little room for creativity and experimentation. The hours spent on reproducing “the Persian palmette” have also made me realize that I don’t possess the necessary patience for this kind of activity. That kind of timeframe does not excite me.

ZDL: Your work is full of fairytale and folkloristic references, often linked to the medieval imaginary…
DS: I grew up in Isola, a village made up of a handful of inhabitants. Until the fourth grade class I had two classmates. I grew up in the countryside of Romagna, an interesting folk melting pot. My big children ears swallowed everything from war stories experienced by the grandparents to the legends of the village, from fairy tales to daily events, experienced in unison by the entire village.

ZDL: While attending the Academy of Ravenna, you started to get closer to the theatre. How has this shift affected your way of approaching the exhibition space?

DS: I approached the so-called theatre of research thanks to some students who attended the last year of academy. Among them was a girl who worked with Socìetas and she was the one who took me to one of the last performances of Hamlet. On stage I realized that it was possible to dialogue with the space, that my presence, every presence, triggered a dynamic. The theatre experience brought forth many questions, particularly on the relation between content and container, about the alleged passivity of the latter. Questions which then questioned my relationship with the exposure situations to which I began to relate.

ZDL: You also said that you don’t consider bodies and objects as installed works, but always as performers …
DS: Yes, they are, and maybe there’s not a lot to explain. They are the actants, they have a role and a story, they contain an intrinsic dynamic, a potential action, like an apple already includes the force of the bite, the pressure of the hands, the hit of the fall. Their presence adduces a temperature whenever they enter or leave a context, a set, a space.

ZDL: You say yourself the theatre taught you to have ‘flexibility in the role’: in what does this result in your current work?
DS: I try to listen. As far as I am concerned, in the theatre you cannot wall up and reject, but on the contrary, you must be willing to receive, to be permeated and to release. In my work everything translated in an effort to listen and to respond to the situations in which I find myself to act, not to anchor an idea, to be open to the unexpected and not to know exactly what the outcome will be.

ZDL: Drawing still remains your first channel, right?
DS: It was probably the polyphony of stories of which we spoke earlier on to have furthered my strong imagination. Drawing permitted me to open the valve and release the pressure exerted by the stories that I developed in my head. For me it was a game, and I spent a lot of time on the exercise books where I crystallized the topical moments of those stories, without following a precise logic. Towards the end of my academic studies, I then reconsidered that approach and I started to produce many drawings in sequence, incomplete storyboards, full of gaps between one episode and another.

ZDL: For some months now you share the studio with Invernomuto, with whom you have already shared projects in the past …
DS: I met them in 2005, while I was trying to give form to Neanche, a small event dedicated to interdisciplinarity, which was then presented in Faenza under the patron saint of Morena and the Clandestino. With Simone and Simone it was brotherhood at first sight and after that experience we have collaborated on several projects, interfering in each other’s work. I think the comparison and collaboration with other artists is vital, especially if the working methods differ although they contain that kind of complementarity which is necessary to develop a dialogue.

ZDL: You recently inaugurated Stressed Environment, a solo show at the Marsèlleria, curated by Caterina Riva. Based on what did you develop this series of works?
DS: I started by turning my attention to a state of mind, to what appeared to be an embarrassing statement that I was making in the first place to myself: “I am bored”. It was a ‘special’ moment of great inner solitude, great desert, great demand by those who gravitated around me, great clouds. I started from the most complex point, from myself. And to observe this myself, I felt the need to listen to others, to unknown others, far away others and other ones who were bored. I needed the virtual darkness, of a density and a volume that you cannot find anywhere else. I started from a state which seemed empty to me, but which instead was full.

ZDL: The exhibition also inaugurated the new location of Marsèlleria; in this period many spaces are opening in Milan. Staying on the subject of boredom (or its opposite) what do you think of the independent cultural offers in Milan?
DS: I think Milan is going through an interesting although conflictive time. There is the smell of hope and the odour, albeit distant, of change. The desire to open new spaces, not to be satisfied with what is offered us, and not to wait, complaining about the absence, but to fill that void, that demand. Sometimes I have the impression that one sticks out too far to the appearance: the packaging is beautiful, but the content is poor, not even silly. Maybe we forget that we are gifted with a voice and this is why I am increasingly dealing with this medium, especially through songs. In Italy, and not only in Milan, I find that the relationship between the actors of this system (artists, curators, etc.) is very complicated. What seems to prevail is a tendency to keep to yourself what you have “earned” and to share only what is strictly necessary. Instead, we should learn to fling open the doors, to make room, to unite this heterogeneous chorus of voices and energies in order to shake up more vigorously a system with a strong tendency towards inertia.

*this interview is taken from PANORAMA, an anthology composed of a series of dialogues with creatives based in Milan. Diorama Editions /2016

Green Room by Emanuela De Cecco


by Emanuela De Cecco / Flash Art Italia n°197, 2011

Due to a progressive weakening of artistic practices dealing with participation – whose initial thrust towards an involvement of the audience, during the entire phase of the work’s realization process, is today often reduced to simulations wherein only conciliatory aspects are acted upon – a discontinuous signal surfaces from the practices of artists who assume their own role, also physically, from a first-person involvement and as of now they establish possible forms of participation.
It is absolutely nothing new but it certainly is symptomatic signal, because the element pooling such an heterogeneous array of works together, it’s the will’s expression to build – from oneself, that it from one’s own body where experience is lived at its fullest form – the sense of an act undergoing through a strong confrontation with the requirements of the art system, an ever stronger global cultural industry, always most concentrated on preserving its own existence above anything else.
In various contemporary practices – however present the memory of the tension that brought artists from the 60s and 70s to proceed in an apparently similar direction – the body’s presence doesn’t run out in its physicality, nor it is oriented towards regaining a supposedly natural dimension, it is rather employed as a necessary passage in order to produce the possibility of an encounter.

In Davide Savorani’s work, whose research has strongly been affected by a parallel and significant experience in theatre, a consequence through which the premises drawn until now manifest themselves is the alteration of the frame wherein the public is requested to pay different and greater attention. It is different from the speed according to which we are authorised to go through consumption places; it is greater when this change of rhythm/intensity/contact translates itself into an invitation to remain, as well as to return, in the exhibition space, not to produce random encounters, but to establish a close relationship with the exhibited work and what is that triggers and unpredictable directions. It is even greater when this request bases itself no longer on the ‘everyone is an artist’ rhetoric, rather on the sharing of one’s relative limits and influences.
In Green Room we experiment the partiality of space’s perception in relationship to the displacement of the exhibited elements, to the way in which other performers act upon the same context and how their actions also transform the perception of the space itself. Everyone involved experiments the limits and influences of the actual place we find ourselves in. By maintaining a distinction among one’s respective role, our presence is defined through them. It is certainly not at random that the entrance of the exhibition is marked by a strip of land contained in a minimal structure, whose presence is obviously “threshold”, yet also an obstacle/limit, which forces everyone intending to go in to make a step different from the others. Thus, by physically marking out an entrance that doesn’t transfigure anyone – for example by turning the visitor into artist – everyone who steps over the structure to is urged to physically encounter as well his own role and his own position.

Green Room is also a studio, an opportunity where Davide has decided to publicly show a side of the work that usually lives in a separate space and separate time. During the opening and the days following, he has exposed his vulnerability by trying out there his movements, making mistakes, starting again, always stopping before managing to produce a completed sequence.
This – and not only this – dynamic doesn’t foresee the word end. Green Room invites us stay in a spot where a flux of temporary actions flow. We are invited to make contact, to stay and to return to the place where this flux condenses itself.
Inside the space there are present constructed elements, objects, drawings, among which a few employed in previous exhibitions and during performative actions: memories that come back to eyes of those who have already seen, previews for those who have only begun looking from here and have now started knowing the work of the artist backwards. In either direction, the movement is identical. As a matter of fact, the coexistence of a temporal line, which can expand itself both towards the past as well as towards the future, is what characterises the same nature of the clues, potential traces of something that has already occurred or indications of something that is about to take place in the future. There is an organic attitude by which certain presences renew themselves and cohabit with the elements produced for the occasion, that is for the length of the exhibition. Ciclicity instead of linearity, the arrangement in order to allow something to return, not as a fetish, which through time has seen its own value to increase, but rather as a tool. A tool disposed in another context, where it can produce different effects. Images stratifying themselves. As if they were possible stories, clues and auspices for that matter, as well as one-ways and returns, memories and wishes.
Abyssal is the difference between a set of coloured scarves hanged on a bar as if just ironed and the memory of the same ones tied together in a single knot. Release, order and calmness in the former case, tension in the latter. It is and example, it is about reversible states, one-ways and returns, again.

The lack of user instructions disables the attempt to activate a disciplined exercise of analysis of every single element shown in the space. The presence of each one is singularly evocative, yet overall, one is unable to detect a narrative structure. As with a rebus without solution, unless one decides to look for it going through some other way, for example starting with an urge, an incident, something that resemble and hits as the “punctum” according to Roland Barthes. The missing unveiling of a unifying narration is a sort of hand-over – paraphrasing what the anthropologist Alfred Gell writes about a partial transfer of responsibilities to the public – because as such an act of subtraction is what allows it, allows us, to experiment more possibilities, further reactions. In which way is each element related to the rest? How have they been used in previous occasions and what effects have they produced? In which way is the artist now employing them in my presence? How will these movements transform my perception of them and of the space hosting them? Can I touch? Can I also move something? Which are the unwritten rules? Can I repeat the gestures of a figure whose face I cannot see? The possible returns and repetitions present in Green Room also contribute to mark a difference among the returns and repetitions that paradoxically live with the research of the novelty ‘at all costs’ in every field of public communication. But this novelty is set for a short life, in fact it consummates, and the resurrection that follows this passionless death is a lightning: everything restarts, it can change rhythm, yet the structure itself remains the same. In marketing, repetition is used because it is effective, reassuring, it removes uncertainties, and the message masked by novelty denies it.
In Green Room these same elements live, to the contrary, in close relationship with a condition of uncertainty, which doesn’t refer to a psychological condition, rather it refers to their action of agents that prevent everything from acquiring a definite form. This repetition is training, learning, patient practice, where repeating, testing more possibilities, is a necessary action so that the unexpected can carry on happening.

Liutenant: Davide Savorani by Romeo Castellucci


by Romeo Castellucci / Flash Art Italia n°181, 2010

Davide Savorani’s actions are self evident blocks, belligerent geometries, dances of masks and weapons made out of folded card-board paper. The performers wear helmets, armour plates, war boots, microphones and clubs; they represent star warriors, thieves or sentries with the face covered by cubist masks without holes for the eyes.
The cardboard is the new forged metal for chamber heroes, taking shape out of a ruler and scissors. The masks are called upon to complete a job: they are placed in a corner of the space and, from then on, they no longer abandon it, as Lieutenants of the space. They are anonymous and geometric figures, in there, where the anonymity that they perform is, probably, the last purpose of the battle.
To take a weapon and lose one’s name, to be no one at full strength, in potency, to be whole. To occupy a corner by multiplying endlessly the spatial vectors as projections of an explosion. Savorani’s actions are not choreographies, they are not theatrical gestures drawn into space; Savorani’s characters discover the space for the first time and they keep their place wearing out the space in a fire, until the exhaustion of their muscular fuel, as machines emerging from spirit. The form of these dances seems to draw inspiration by nocturnal folklore, coming out from a substantial amnesia, which throws itself bluntly into the obscure roots of Theatre only to discover that they must be cut off.
Folklore knocks down Theatre in just one move: by ignoring it. The low frequency of the folkloristic imagery ignores the dramaturgical complexity of theatre shifting the viewpoint towards a preceding stage of man’s adventure, towards a pre-individual singularity not yet – fully – succubus to language. These dances probably represent a possible mask feast in illo tempore, organized around the idea of an essential void left by a lost Totem.

Taking a closer look, Savorani’s practice is a total-false-Folklore, that has no affiliation, no age, nor people, not a tradition, not a purpose; no reference and no memory. Any ancestor nor the Dead. The falseness erects itself as a new missing Totem and as a new Tradition. One must fake Tradition and create a space for imagination.
Faking requires complete presence, complete corruption. How to do it. I wait for something to happen in an absolute still potential that you may call a perfect dance, if you wish. A body in contact with the eyes of the people. A dramatic advancing through a low defined glimpse.
Savorani’s false folkloristic dance annihilates the spectator’s spaces of intellectual manoeuvre who seems falling into an incapability of judgment. What throws one off guard is the lack of a general context.
For context I intend the human canvas of the Theatre-System that lightens up every so often when we see someone exposing him/herself in front of us and which requires our hermeneutical effort. Well, the strategy of these masks consists on exceeding their significance, by annulling it at its arise.
The spectator adverts the presence of an aimless fiction; not only folkloric language is false but also the actual need to invent one resonates as false. Sure enough there is no need… And that is the good news.
Savorani’s actions ultimately seem to say: – …you, look at me. I’m here; I’ve always been here. In this moment I live in this earth and I don’t know what I am. I know that I’m not a category. I’m not a thing. I’m not a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolution process, an integral function of the universe. My steps are blows without ego. And now, what I’m striking with my feet, even though you haven’t noticed, this, is our place. Earth.

It’s the same when Davide Savorani draws, also the drawings result impersonal in their flawless linearity and apparent indecisions. As those traced out with carbon paper. The pencil never passes through twice on the same spot, as if the presence of the artist were someplace else. These drawings remind me of those of Henry Darger, who traced out popular and commercial prints of his time; or those (possible?) of Buster Keaton. They want something or allude to a logical system in a world to be interpreted once again and they attempt to explain dramatically how to. They are often arranged in sequences, as instruction drawings teaching one how to assemble a specific thing through a specific montage box at one’s disposal. Yet also the “knowing how” is somewhere else and the effect that they give out is that of a melancholic mood about a technique that has always been unsuited. These drawings teach – for example – to cross one’s own fingers in a certain way, to build and unbuilt a pile-dwelling, to dig, naked, a big hole in the ground with a ship laying down nearby, or to keep a horse’s tail between one’s legs or to thread a pair of moccasin onto an animal resting on a couch; in short they haven’t experienced an idea of a real life.