Perarolo di Cadore, Italy


Various locations

Perarolo di Cadore, Italy, resembles no place else on earth. A village of fewer than four hundred souls lost in a snowy valley in the province of Belluno in the Dolomites, it was once a renowned vacation destination. Today it is nearly a ghost town, devoid of tourists. However, the Perarolo09 project has made a difference, transforming emptiness into a sense of expectation. The program consists of a sequence of solo exhibitions by five emerging Italian artists: Alberto Tadiello, Nico Vascellari, Diego Marcon, Andrea Galvani, and Christian Frosi. (Another artist, Matteo Rubbi, designed and produced a neon sign perarolo with the collaboration of local craftsmen. This work will remain in the village as a gift to the community.) On the third Saturday of each month, an artist hands off the show to the next in a sort of artistic relay. Tadiello, for example, installed an iron sculpture on the altar of a church that has been closed for more than a decade. It is a wide tube, an open mouth linked to a compressor that, turned on, transfers and transforms energy into sound. It is a postmodern organ, a mechanical caterpillar that reawakens the church with a cry. The work related well to the second intervention, Untitled, 2009, a performance by Vascellari, a celebration of a year of transformation for the artist, who left traces of his change, such as a chandelier with candle bulbs in the central nave or, in the sacristy, a glass coffin crammed with slowly melting snow. In contrast, Marcon’s work assumes a more narrative dimension, in which the artist—who, like Dino Buzzati in his novel The Tartar Steppe (1940), waits in suspense for an enemy to arrive—imagines ghosts haunting Perarolo and a hunter who fights them. Marcon encountered Franco Berto, a hunter with forty years’ experience who worked as a watchmaker, and decided to investigate his spaces and sounds; the resulting video, Storie di fantasmi per adulti (Ghost Stories for Grown-Ups), 2010, was exhibited in the building that formerly housed the town’s school.

Each artist has created his own catalogue, really a fanzine, in collaboration with the Fondazione Claudio Buziol in Venice, which along with Università Iuav, the mountain community, and other local associations made the exhibition possible. The curator, Daniela Zangrando, clearly had in mind—perhaps too much so—the model of Jan Hoet’s “Chambres d’amis” (Guest Rooms), which was the subject of her dissertation. The similarities with the project created in Ghent, Belgium, in 1986 are numerous: the choice of alternative spaces outside museums and galleries as exhibition venues; the curator’s familiarity with the context (Zangrando comes from the region); the mode of production for the artworks (in this case the artists were invited to produce new work for and in the village, extending their practices to create works in ways that go beyond conventional studio/assistant/ sponsor relationships); the theme of dwelling or in any case of opening the work up to the site. But the Perarolo community itself remained discreetly out of sight, indeed almost invisible; unlike the works in “Chambres d’amis,” those in Perarolo09 did not occupy private homes but rather abandoned public spaces. They seemed like fragments of private adventures imagined by the artists during their stay in the village.

Paola Nicolin

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.