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Fabrizio Manco / stalks  

I am an Italian artist (from Salento, Apulia) based in London.
Most of my work is situated in the field of performance/live art, which also informs my video and video installations. My exploration started in that ‘province’, linked to the specific phenomena of my cultural origin, in particular with the element of theatricality. I have been pursuing research, both theoretical and practical, on situatedness, embodiment and context in relation to movement. Dance, in the strict sense, is not my background; yet Butoh’s poetics and its ‘recent’ involvement with new technology and hybrid art forms, have certainly been a creative stimulation to my work. My performances and improvisations vary with each different site and I use my body taking into account its history, and its movements and, especially, its obstacles and limitations, through, perhaps, a ‘tragicomical’ investigation, in the relation to the space.

    The idea
Stalks is a word/image that I have chosen because for me, it implies nature, the stalks in plants, as with tobacco, trees, stalks as columns/pilasters, architectural structures, as well as the spine of the human and ‘struggling’ upright body. Here is a growing vegetative, architectural and vegetable hybrid, of a body toiling in the tobacco fields, with lumbar-lower back pain, as well as a reverential bowing.
The sympathy for the rural, versus the modern, is not untypical in western culture, but to tread that difficult line between the faintly nostalgic and the romantic attitude towards folk or popular forms of culture is still a challenging enterprise. I hope, however, to avoid the parochial and simplistic dichotomy of the rural and urban, and seek to apply the inner connection with the archaic and in relation to the contemporary urban environment and architecture. As Peter Eckersall says, here is where the body discovers itself “as an exo-body that transforms in relation to its environment.”(Performance Research 6)
Therefore, working specifically with an architectonic site and landscape(s) which I have chosen for this project, is for me a challenging prospect in terms of focus and interrogation. I will concentrate on a human ‘ecology’ as well as one of art, by exploring relations, processes, exchanges (eg. trade and transportation).

Stalks is a developing work-in-progress project that originally started as a possible way of finding links between cultures of the body as a reference to the pre-modern and a consideration of the ‘industrial’ and its survival within it.
One of the main focuses of this project is on bodies in reference to a landscape, in this case that of Salento and that of the urban spaces of what used to be the old trading wharf area of London, the Docklands. Landscape is also intended here as archeological and historical in its transverse reference to the documents, images, memory of what remains in younger and older generations. Therefore, Tarantism will be a very loose reference, in considering certain aspects of it as, for example, the relationship of body and horizontality, adherence to the architecture and soil and, indeed, to alluring surfaces in general. Here, the marginalization and exploitation was not only that of power, but also that of the effects of weather, nature and labour, that of bodies deformed and sometimes debilitated.
The image of suffering that we are realizing is therefore that of a living one, organically linked with history and the everyday. It is of a body trans-formed by its use in life.
    The installation
stalks, is a video/sound installation and performance that would consist of two looped DVD video projections. One would be of various landscapes (eg. that of tobacco plantations at the beginning of their spring growth), situations, people and performances, that I shall film in Salento (southern Italy) and one of performances taking place in the urban site of London’s Docklands, as mentioned earlier. This would be projected onto a chosen architectonic site of relevant history (eg. a tobacco packing factory) in the area of Salento.

The performance
The actual live performance will be an extension, in terms of concept, of the video projections and will be performed simultaneously with one projection only, and one sound track. For the performance only, in the space, a few green brooms will be placed, as I will be interacting with these objects, representing green tobacco stalks after the harvesting, as well as being tools of work. The image of the green broom will be also the synthesizing image of the work.