At Yuri Ancaranis debut at RaebervonStenglin
, also his first solo exhibition in Switzerland, visitors are being treated to two filmic works that, in their presentation and execution, tread diverse paths but that are still emblematic of the Italian artists work. As Ricordi Per Moderni (2012) draws from various older films by the artist and Baron Samedi (2015) represents his newest piece, they can be seen as framing his work.
In a darkened first room, twelve short films, shown on two screens, merge into one large whole, a panopticon of Italian society, of the region around the Riviera Romagnola and Rimini. Each screen displays only one film; while one is running, the title of the next film appears on the other screen a filmic game of ping pong that develops its impact gradually. Ricordi Per Moderni emerged over a period of 10 years: Between 2000 and 2009, Ancarani created the individual films at locations along the Adriatic coast, all the while unaware that he would rediscover their analogies at a later point and connect them into one self-contained work. Characterized by both a documentary and a video-essayistic quality, the films nonetheless manifest a surreal, playful and, to some extent, an orchestrated dimension. Ancarani is a master at linking small, intimate moments, for example, between lovers, with the social upheavals of an entire region and at addressing universal themes without moralizing. In the evocative images of Ricordi Per Moderni, Ancarani has succeeded in both describing as well as interpreting the emotional state of a geographical region.
In Baron Samedi, shown for the first time at last years Triennale in Milan, a silent nine-minute film reveals something strange on two monitors in an installation. At dawn, architectural shapes arise that turn out to be tombs. As the day progresses, they are staged in carefully composed shots. The presentation on the frameless monitors enables an interplay of geometry, alignment and perspectives. Wild goats move freely among and atop the tombs.
Ancarani created the film in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The cult of the dead practiced there is heavily influenced by voodoo, which was conferred the status of an official religion in 2003, and by its rite and myths. The title is taken from a supernatural figure, a Lao of the dead named Baron Samedi. By showing the large tombs, whose solid structures are meant to hinder the dead from returning as zombies or being desecrated by followers of voodoo, and through their interplay with the light-heartedness of the animals, Ancarani provides a multi-layered portrait of the Haitian cultural system. As with the majority of Ancaranis works, Baron Samedi can also be read both as documentary and as allegorical artistic film.
Yuri Ancarani was born in 1972 in Ravenna, Italy. His work has been shown in national and international museums including solo exhibitions as Yuri Ancarani, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; La Malattia del Ferro / Die Krankheit des Eisens, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin (both 2014); La malattia del ferro, ZERO..., Milan; Il Capo and Piattaforma Luna, film screening, Guggenheim, New York; CAC, film screening, Centre dArt Contemporaine, Geneva (all 2012); Pink Flag, curated by Alessandra Pioselli, T.I.C.A. Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art, Tirana (2009) and Yuri Ancarani, N.O. Gallery, Milan (2007). His group exhibitions include XXI Triennale di Milano, Milan; Liebe Deine Maschine, Kunstverein Hildesheim, Hildesheim (both 2015); Premio Italia Arte Contemporanea, MAXXI, Rome (2014); The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th International Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); Le Associazioni Libere, La Maison Rouge, Paris (2012) and the Prague Biennial 5, Prague, Czech Republic (2011). Ancarani was the recipient of several awards as the Talent Prize in 2012 (Rome, Italy); Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction feature filmmaking (Museum of Moving Image, New York); Best International Short Film, RIDM Montreal International Documentary Festival, Montreal and the Short Film Grand Prize, IndieLisboa, 10th International Independent Film Festival, Lisbon. He lives and works in Milan, Italy.