International Festival of Performance

Muna Mussie Photo by Claudia Pajewski

Over 20 international artists: Motus, Sissi, Tomaso Binga, Playgirls from Caracas, OHT, Numero Cromatico, Daniele Ninarello, Salò, Marzia Migliora, Aurelio Di Virgilio, Emilia Verginelli, Vanja Smiljanić, Muna Mussie, Marco D’Agostin. Also: Elena Bellantoni, David Zerbib, John Cascone and Jacopo Natoli with students from the Academy of Fine Arts of L’Aquila and the Annecy-Alpes Academy. The first edition of the Performative03 Award, with the winning project Self-reversing by Olga Kozmanidze

L’Aquila, 24 July 2023 – Now in its third edition, PERFORMATIVE, the international festival of performance art, dance, music and theatre held at MAXXI L’Aquila is making a comeback on the last weekend of the summer. From 14 to 16 September, it will transform L’Aquila into an urban laboratory of expression, with over 20 Italian and foreign artists. The following have already confirmed their presence: Motus, Sissi, Tomaso Binga, Playgirls from Caracas, OHT, John Cascone, Numero Cromatico, Daniele Ninarello, Salò, Marzia Migliora, Aurelio Di Virgilio, Emilia Verginelli, Vanja Smiljanić, Muna Mussie, Marco D’Agostin.

A great novelty is the first edition of the Performative Award, thanks to which the performance Self-reversing by Olga Kozmanidze, curated by Sibilla Panerai, will be produced during the days of the Festival. Together with curators Ivan D’Alberto and Marcella Russo, Panerai formulated the six proposals of performative art representing the area from which the winner was chosen.

As in previous years, the Festival stems from the collaboration between the Museum and the Academy of Fine Arts of L’Aquila; curatorship is entrusted to the MAXXI L’Aquila team, Director Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, curators Anne Palopoli, Fanny Borel and Chiara Bertini for the MAXXIVERSE, and Abaq lecturers Silvano Manganaro and Elena Bellantoni. The programme of talks and in-depth studies is curated by Irene De Vico Fallani and Stefano Gobbi from the Public Programme Office of Fondazione MAXXI.

Also on the programme, as always, are the live actions of the students of the L’Aquila’s Academy of Fine Arts, this year with their colleagues from Annecy-Alpes; also involved in the activities are some students from L’Aquila’s ‘A. Casella’ Conservatory and the students of the Abruzzo capital’s high schools, who are the protagonists of a special edition of PCTO MAXXI A[R]T WORK.

As in previous editions, the Festival benefits from the support of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).

The programme will unfold in the halls and the exedra-shaped courtyard of Palazzo Ardinghelli, home of MAXXI L’Aquila, the rooms of the Academy of Fine Arts (designed by Paolo Portoghesi in the late 1970s), and various points in the old town centre, in an enthralling invasion that will activate new processes of creativity and experimentation in the social fabric of the city: from the baroque wooden hall of Palazzetto dei Nobili, to the precious church of San Silvestro (where Raphael also worked), to Piazza di Santa Maria Paganica, which hosts the multifunctional structure Ecception – built by the students of the Architecture Course of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of L’Aquila as part of a self-construction workshop in collaboration with MAXXI L’Aquila and with the support and patronage of the Municipality of L’Aquila.

Performative will establish an urban laboratory in which national and international artists are called upon to live and act by presenting works that have already been experimented and loved by the public or new performances, such as Ode to Water, 2023, an unpublished project by Marzia Migliora realised with Luca Morino with the involvement of the students of the ‘A. Casella’ conservatory and in collaboration with Off Site Art. On the final day of the Festival, the itinerant performance will produce a sound fabric that crosses a part of the old town centre and develops a parallelism between water and culture, as necessary nourishment, precious and irreplaceable assets on which the growth and well-being of society depend.


Emilia Verginelli Photo © Claudia Pajewski

MOTUS © Andrea Macchia

The new production by OHT, Filippo Andreatta and Silvia Costa, scheduled at the end of the first day and dedicated to a classic of western literature, i.e. Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus, will also be presented. In an enthralling reading in front of a blazing fire, the artists will handle the text, transforming the novel into something to be examined, dissected, stitched together as a body available for different experiments.

Alongside these new works, there will also be beloved performances, such as the two by Motus, Of the nightingale I envy the fate and You were nothing but wind, as inspired by the figures of Cassandra – depicted before her murder as a slave, adulteress and foreigner – and Hecuba – after the bloody defeat at Troy.

Other scheduled performances include Curva Cieca (Blind Curve) by Muna Mussie, Jeplane by Aurelio Di Virgilio and Lourdes by Emilia Verginelli. There will also be moments dedicated to dance with Marco D’Agostin presenting Gli anni (Years) and Daniele Ninarello with NOBODY NOBODY it’s ok not to be ok.

Students from the Academy of Fine Arts of L’Aquila, together with those from Annecy-Alpes, have instead been involved in John Cascone and Jacopo Natoli’s L’Oltrefesta (Afterparty) with Elena Bellantoni and David Zerbib, a workshop project culminating in a performative moment open to the public that explores the senses of celebration as a collective experience in the MAXXI spaces.

Suspended between L’Aquila’s Palazzetto dei Nobili and MAXXIVERSO, Fondazione MAXXI’s space on the metaverse, is The future is here, somewhere, a lecture-performance by Numero Cromatico that recounts the future as a mode of perceiving and imagining reality, a posture of the human being and a mode of waiting and reaching out, as something that is formed and transformed in the course of history.

The successful Con-formance (‘conference-performance’) format is also making a comeback, conceived as performative actions whose authors freely develop their own take on a theme or a protagonist of art. The programme features the following conformances: Tommaso Binga’s Sogno Ogni Ora (I dream every hour) at the opening of the Festival, Vanja Smiljanic’s (15 September) Troubled Waters-Searching For Atlantis and Sissi on the last day.

Confirmed also for this third edition is the programme of talks to retrace the history and places of performance through the accounts of critics, curators and art historians: Filippo Andreatta, Luca Lo Pinto, Cecilia Canziani and Ilaria Mancia.

Piazza del Museo will be transformed with the evening DJ set: Playgirls from Caracas will close the second day, while the festival’s conclusion, as usual in music, will be entrusted to Salò, whose live performances, amidst psychedelia, noise, avant-rock and a pronounced taste for performance, remain a rare occurrence.

During Performative03, the exhibition Marisa Merz Shilpa Gupta visibileinvisibile, dedicated to two great protagonists of contemporary art and curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Fanny Borel, can be visited in the main floor rooms of Palazzo Ardinghelli. The Project room hosts works by Haim Steinbach, Alberto Burri and Michele Cammarano presented for Panorama di Italics. In Steinbach’s new installation, the artist acts as an archaeologist of the contemporary, making the objects used an essential element in the construction of personal identity.

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