NAPLES - 06.06.18
Reflections on our residency at Interno5Start, written by Anthony Lo-Giudice
It’s a rainy Wednesday and I’m home in Newcastle. It’s back to full steam ahead and so I must write and savour these words I am about to type out before they begin to dissipate in the wake of endless teaching and admin. Whilst I sit in the Lit and Phil Library down the road from Dance City, surrounded by the smell of old books and the solitary sound of the tired ticking clock reminding me to keep at a hushed level, I am brought out of the present and my thoughts memorialise to the altogether different world we have just immersed ourselves in.
Naples, Southern Italy. Loud and unruly. Charismatic and ancient. The land of Pucinella and Pizza. A place that never ceases to seduce and pull on the romantic notions of La Dolce Vita and a part of the world that feels in my blood. This region has an undeniable influence on my work as an artist. It’s under my skin.
The smell of sweaty pavements in the burning sun and the myriad of crumbling grandeur and modern bustle lay the scene for everyday life. People push and pull, they shout and they laugh, they almost run you over and they seem to have no notion of time keeping, but their charm is utterly magnetic. Their gesture, interaction and personalities are resplendent.
Their touch is warm and genuine.
Through the support of Arts Council England and Dance City, we are starting to re-forge relationships with the city that had previously begun a number of years ago. In 2012 we were invited to showcase our work as part of Moviementale Napoli festival and since then, we have visited several times over the years to perform work and also collaborate with local artists on small projects, often bringing what skills and experience we acquire back to the UK to influence our work at home. This international exchange keeps us connected to dance and the arts in the country.
This time, we were back by invitation of Antonello Tudisco at Interno5Start in the heart of the historic city.
‘START is the home of Interno5, a group made up of young professionals in the fields of theater, contemporary dance and performing arts, which since 2003 has been involved in the conception, creation and production of artistic and cultural projects.
START is also an acronym of SanbiagioTheaterandperformingARTs because it aims to host theatrical and performing arts creations through creative residences, that is hosting emerging and established artists, who produce using the START site-specific works spaces, conceived in START and for START, also taking inspiration from the urban context in which the space is located, the historic center of Naples, the ancient San Biagio dei Librai, the sixteenth-century Palazzo Diomede Carafa.’
As well as teaching a 4-day workshop with regional artists, we were there to delve into some deeper ideas behind our latest work ‘L’uomo’, culminating in a sharing to gather feedback from local artists and organisations. The long-term aim being to return later in the year to perform a more realized version of the work as part of their annual festival and to teach another workshop. There are also discussions as to how we can invite Italian artists back to the North East for future collaborative exchange projects.
The research and development of this work appears very much to be honing in on a sensual and intricate exchange of affection between two men. How man, much like the art, architecture and the romanticism of this place can envelope around itself, creating mesmeric experiences. How can man be beautiful with another man and how can audiences feel and understand love between men in different ways. How can man be a conduit for something intimate whilst giving audiences a piece of art for viewers to savour?
Have we lost what the ancients had? The invitation to view man as a sensual creation, without falling into the trap of sexualisation?
We wanted to come here, as it is a place though despite all the eccentricity of character, shows intimacy and delicacy in human gesture. It is reflected in its art, in it’s landscape and in it’s people.
For this work, I have been particularly interested in the way men are both shaped by love and the ‘shape’ that love makes. The Italian in me is reminded of the romance and sensuality of ‘L’uomo’. Whether this be a marble statue dug up from the ground with its limbs missing or the impeccably dressed male busying himself in everyday life, the idea of what ‘man’ is, can be somewhat different here. There is a sensuality intrinsically tied into man. There is something both ancient and modern in our study of L'uomo. This work feels almost at the moment to want to be both. It feels willing to celebrate a sculptural and poetic beauty of two men showing love to one another, but it feels like people need to see more of this in todays world. The idea of men and sensuality and intimacy needs de-mystifying. Are we as a society comfortable seeing two men being intimate in public? Have we forgotten the beauty of touch from men?
Following workshops, rehearsals, sight seeing and people watching, the week culminated in a sharing of the ‘work’ so far. We were joined by a number of regional artists and arts practitioners and the feedback was informative and promising. At this moment in time, we feel like we are the right track.
The experience of the week felt imperative to bring some truth to this work for me. The Italian and English in me needed to experience the themes of the work from both sides of the water, immerse myself creatively in a different culture and gather feedback from Italian audiences. On the flip side, it will be interesting to see how british audiences read what we have been up to in Naples. Will it be too much? Is it not enough?
It was also a joy to bring fellow dancer Alex to join me in this re-charging of the artistic batteries.
We are in the studio again in July for one week, working with Viv to present something as part of Curious Festival. I wonder what she thinks of how the work has developed?
I feel like we are on to something really good. I love this feeling when a work is young.
On that note…young people. They need teaching. The tired clock has continued to lull away behind me and has tugged at my wandering thoughts, pulling me back to the now. I’m taken out of the Mediterranean and into the realization I’ve got 15 students waiting for me and I’m running late.
It’s back to the present, and so I must go back to work...