During the short residency program "The Encounter" (IT/ AL), Colpani worked with the situation of being in Albania for the first time without knowing the language. Working with Albanians met during the residency, she realized a short video (text and sound), where she tries to master a sentence in Albanian with a flawless accent.
The sentence, composed by Colpani with text she found at Tirana Airport when she arrived, is "Yam këtu në të gjith boten", which means "I am here in the whole world".
"The Encounter"is a residency program at UNIDEE, Pistoletto Foundation (Biella, IT) and Art House Shköder (Shköder, AL) with Albanian artist Adrian Paci.
With this work, Colpani explores her relation to her living environment from the position of the immigrant. She does this by working with the physical distance between her house and the places that connect her to Amsterdam, the city where she currently lives.
During an open studio residency at Peer, Colpani collected all the words that she encountered while she walked daily to the studio. These words are from different sources such as displays on the street, names of shops, slogans, home tv screens visible from the streets, graffiti, clothes of passer-by. During the residency, Colpani used the coffee shop's blackboard, usually used to advertize new shop or menu items, to display on the street the words she collected during her walks. This way, the "fed" Amsterdam back to Amsterdam, using a marketing tool to speak to the overly-marketed European capital.
Pencil on wall
The studio space was filled with a pencil drawing of her walk, which consisted in the words she found on her way to the Peer studio.
Workshop, mixed media installation, publication.
Colpani invited 6 participants living in Amsterdam to partake in a shared work process: to engage physically with the space of the city starting from their own personal location and perspective. With a combination of readings, screenings, individual walks, group discussions and the production of an exhibition and a publication, Colpani and the participants researched as individuals and as a group what the physical experience of distance in the city does to us, and how it can bring us closer to an understanding of our place and identity in our living environment: the city of Amsterdam.
A week-by-week chronicle of the process we experienced together, with extra material and images can be found here.
The work is a real size drawing of the whole Dutch border (between the Netherlands and Belgium and the Netherlands and Germany). The progress of the drawing is also being tracked online on an open Google map here.
Pencil on paper/ online open Google map.
# 2: Fences
(9) 20 x 30 cm, pencil on paper/ sound.
The nine drawings and the recordings are presented together, as a portrait of the border dividing the city of Gorizia in two, the Italian and the Slovenian half. This border is historically very charged and still affects how people relate to each other, even now that Slovenia has become part of the European Union. The emotional and historical weight of this separation form an interesting contrast with the border itself, which is very fragmented and in many places looks like a garden fence. Most of the border in the city is a bicycle path. The recordings are made during the making of the drawings, and include some dialog with passers-by who approached me in both languages (Italian and Slovenian).
A work on the relationship between the two places that are home, the North of the Netherlands and the Po plain area in Italy. Colpani explored their relations not so much as being opposed to one another but from the perspective of their connections.
(2) 13,4 x 20 cm, digital print.
These landscapes look very normal but they are actually fantasy landscapes, constructed by copy-pasting the fog and skies from the North of the Netherlands on images from Piacenza (IT), Colpani's home town.
(2) 80 x 95 cm, digital prints.
Both images are enlarged fragments of fog. One photo is from fog in Piacenza, one is from fog in Frisian village Húns. The images have a certain effect, similar to real fog. When you look at them for longer, they make you dizzy because of the enlargment of the pixels.
(2) 45 x 60 cm, pencil on paper
The drawings are made to reproduce fog. When looking at the drawings from a distance, they look like (digital) noise, but in fact this effect is created by drawing very small lines all close to each other to graphically produce the same effect of fog.
This project started with a book by Italian reporter Edmondo De Amicis, who visited the Netherlands around the 1870’s and wrote a book, translated in Dutch as “Nederland en zijn bewoners” (tr. Ronald Fagel). Colpani related her experience as Italian immigrant in the Netherlands to De Amici’s obeservations.
# 1 Het gemaakte land
Audio (loop), voice Marie-Anne Schouten
A female voice receits the following sentence many times: “Het is een kunstmatig, een gemaakt land. De Nederlanders hebben het gemaakt. Het bestaat, omdat de Nederlanders het bewaren. Het zou verdwijnen als de Nederlanders het verlieten”.
# 2 Het gemaakte land: window frames
Digital prints (3), 187 x 100 cm; 80 x 70 cm; 108 x 80 cm, Amsterdam (NL)
Three photographs of window frames from Amsterdam (Surinameplein and surroundings). The element of the window frames is an object inbetween private and public space, that indirectly defines our relation to others and to outside/inside space itself.
# 3 Het gemaakte land
(5) A5 flyers, designs on commission by Jens Domela Nieuwenhuis, Story Studio, Johanna Ehde, Rosie & Paul, Liset van de Graaf.
The flyers feature five statements from “Benoemen, nummeren en begrenzen: handboek voor gemeenteambtenaren die zijn belast met het benoemen van de openbare ruimte, het nummeren van vastgoedobjecten en het begrenzen van gebieden”. Five different designers were commissioned to each design a flyer for one of the sentences.
Elsewhere researches the idea of foreignness by looking closer at how our environment, our stories and the objects we own are given shape. We design our objects and our living environment and they, in turn, direct our perception and our believes continuously and almost seeminglessly.
The book is divided in five chapters. Each chapter approaches the subject from a different point of view. I have spoken to friends who have a strong experience in relation to each thematic and I have either interviewd or discussed different artists and asked them about their practices in relation to art’s potential to subvert our personal experiences by producing foreignness and putting us in the position of the newcomer, the stranger who has to learn how to “read” the surroundings all over again.
chapter 1, “a place to speak from”, A perceptive and affective engagement with the environment, that includes reactions of protest or refusal of the environment itself. Interview with Sarah Natsumi Moore.
chapter 2, “to tell”, “Finding a fitting place for oneself in the world is finding a place for oneself in a story.” (Jo Carson). Artists/ authors discussed: Paul Smaïl, Anil Ramdas, Rebecca Belmore. Interview with artist Dan Higgins.
chapter 3, “to see”, “Space is the surface where a culture, an era, an individual project their conduct, their past and their desires.” Ton Lemaire. Author discussed: Wim Wenders. Interview with artist Helene Sommer.
chapter 4, “to collect”, The materiality that we think might make us unauthentic is in fact part of who we are.
Artist discussed: Lorna Simpson. Interview with Denis Pires.
chapter 5: “to change”, Art makes us choose to become foreign to things all over again.
A poem written in Cape Town (SA) as part of a collective newspaper produced during the stay (DOGTIME Fine Arts at GRA).
During 2012 and 2013 Colpani moved to Amsterdam. She worked on the experience of the home: its objects, its spaces, her relation to the new city and new neighborhood where she was going to live.
# 1: Wijsmullerstraat
A reconstruction of the physical space of a family's livingroom, based on found family photoalbums. Photographic collages (2), left 30 x 9,5 cm, right 22,5 x 10 cm, Amsterdam (NL)
# 2: Blanket
A blanket is placed and portraited on different spots on the street, around Surinameplein in Amsterdam. Digital prints (5), 21,5 x 14,5 cm, Amsterdam (NL).
# 3: Twelve things
Small hand-written book with drawings, with twelve short stories of documented possessions. Book, 20,5 x 12,5 cm, Amsterdam (NL).
“In 1799, ROSETTA STONE was discovered in Egypt. Its encrypted message helped decypher hieroglyphs. In November 2014, the European spacecraft ROSETTA reached its final destination: a comet at the border of our known universe. In the same week Paleis Van Mieris was founded. In our first exhibition, ROSETTA STONE, we explore uncharted territory.”
Reflecting on the theme of the exhibition, I printed a cable pole from the city of Amsterdam on fax paper, in its real size. The print was 8 meter long and hung from the high ceiling in the exhibition building.
20 x 800 cm, termal print.
For a group exhibition in the former Maple Leaf factory, I wanted to create a connection between the artists, the visitors and the former employees of the factory through the space that we shared over time. I installed three photographs of a reception that was held at the factory in 1988, creating a continuum of the current space where the exhibition was taking place.
Digital prints (3), 20 x 30 cm, Amsterdam (NL).