We Exhibit for The Venice International Performance Art Week 2022

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK, we will present the collective performance opera Under Scars at Palazzo Mora, the historical premises of the European Cultural Centre in Venice, on Saturday, December 17, at 7:00 pm (admission free). Under Scars is envisioned and devised by the artist duos VestAndPage (Verena Stenke & Andrea Pagnes) and Andrigo & Aliprandi in collaboration with Irina Baldini, Sabrina Bellenzier, Giorgia de Santi, daz disley, Nicola Fornoni, Marisa Garreffa, Fenia Kotsopoulou, Ash McNaughton, Aisha Pagnes, Enok Ripley, Sara Simeoni, Mauro Sambo, Joseph Morgan Schofield, Marcel Sparmann and Emily Welther.

The experience of the collective performance opera Body Matters: Anam Cara – Dwelling Bodies in 2018 made us imagine a radically different direction for the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK. We realised that the production of collective performance operas should be nurtured by artists-in-residences that provide time and space for the needed intensive co-creation processes. Under Scars grew from this insight as a collective performance opera and work-in-progress. It developed from Body Matters: Co-Creation Residency, a shared artistic research and a co-creative path undertaken by 15 performance and sound artists organised in June 2023 at C32 performing arts workspace in Forte Marghera (Venice).

Under Scars is a gathering of experienced artists and performers who challenge their practice to attempt novel perspectives on art and society. It is a collective work that gravitates around the themes of disability, severe diseases, addiction, patriarchy, capitalism, abuse and discrimination. The wounds and stigma they cause are dealt with poetically through performance actions and artmaking rituals of kinship and togetherness. On this occasion, Palazzo Mora’s main hall and six adjacent rooms transform into a dwelling site of interconnected performance installations, where temporary, intensive co-creation processes aim to reveal the qualities of existence. The hosting space functions as a social-narrative incubator wherein performance methods are intertwined for coagulating inclusive and expansive life stories. The collaborative performance unfolds as it builds on sustained encounters of different artistic research combined with performative practices. As the title suggests, the artists now gather to unveil precious experiences of vulnerabilities, hesitations, fragilities, hopes, the unspoken they carry under their cicatrices, and wounds healed by performing. Memories and experiential transformation processes entwine and collide to respond poetically to present emergencies.

Young performance artist Nicola Fornoni has a core role in the performance opera, alongside artists and performers who supported the ten years of activities of the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK to today or have previously collaborated with us. Passion, creativity and enthusiasm are the primary resources that allow us to perform and experiment. All of us participating artists are producers of ourselves. We have reconstituted a cluster of performers who offer live art to create reflection and dialogue on the present urgencies and emergencies. Over the past five months, developing a sense of community and belonging, we have been working together to assemble the performance opera, aware of its complexity and duration of almost three hours.

After six successful editions of the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK, seven Summer Classes of its educational program, and the two-year interruption due to the pandemic, Under Scars is now an opportunity to understand today’s audience for performance art in Venice. Finally, it also signifies returning to my origins in social theatre and applied drama. That is, I envision this work as a form of collective care.

– Andrea Pagnes