Existential athletics at Live Arts Week 2019

Bologna’s Live Arts Week: inspiring new existential forms


Marcelo Evelin, Demolition Incorporada, Live Arts Week, Live Arts Week 2019, Bologna, performance, art

Marcelo Evelin/Demolition Incorporada, The Invention of Evilness/A Invenção da Maldade. Photo Maurício Pokemon


Every year Live Arts Week brings live works of performance and sound art to Bologna, Italy. Presented by Xing, the heterogeneous program involves different venues throughout the city centre.

The organizers’ manifesto is about giving space to “existential athletics” capable of exposing viewers to different “forms of sensitivity and ideas”. And the experiences made available during this 8th edition truly accomplished the festival’s original intention. Each live work presented at Live Arts Week VIII was able to inspire in its audience a return to a basic state, an origin which is not necessarily in the past. Particularly striking was what could be considered Live Arts Week’s closing event: a performance by Marcelo Evelin (of Demolition Incorporada), The Invention of Evilness/A Invenção da Maldade, at Cinema Modernissimo. The decaying underground theatre became the unexpected stage for a performance that used sound and movement to strike the low, inner chords of the audience’s most basic nature. Nude bodies dancing at the dawn of social norms, their movements originated like “an angelic non-presence that passes like a fluid through the flesh”. This “uproar of corporeality” brought performers and public together in a ritualistic sense, where a bond is formed by experiencing together something strong and primal.


Simon Vincenzi, Live Arts Week, Live Arts Week 2019, Bologna, performance, art

Simon Vincenzi, From The Dead Air Orgy: The Song of Silenus (YouTube channel). Photo Matilde Soligno


A return to archetypes is able to paradoxically arise higher thought, and the same concept can be applied to other powerful live works in the program. Simon Vincenzi’s From The Dead Air Orgy: The Song of Silenus is a complex work comprising a live stream, a live installation and a performance. Commissioned by Live Arts Week and shown at Palazzo Pezzoli, the work echoed a poem by Virgil where characters can be seen as tied by a complex power/erotic bond through its specific narrative, which was here conveyed by three different portals: an online streaming channel, broadcast from the venue; an installation within the building that evolved over three days; and a performance repeated each night at midnight.


Ellen Arkbro, Marcus Pal, Live Arts Week, Live Arts Week 2019, Bologna, performance, art

Ellen Arkbro/Marcus Pal, Chords at the Evangelical Methodist Church. Courtesy Xing Live Arts Week

Another full immersion facilitated by the effects of sound on bodies and psyches was provided by Ellen Arkbro and Marcus Pal, who performed Chords on the Evangelical Methodist Church’s organ, that left the audience speechless and changed, as they left the central nave at the end of the show. The artists were setting themselves out to expand an awareness on the act of listening as an “active process of participatory construction”.

Live Arts Week, Live Arts Week 2019, Bologna, performance, art

Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio, C’è un inganno nel crepuscolo 2. Photo Luca Ghedini. Courtesy Xing Live Arts Week


A strong suit of Live Arts Week is the peculiarity of the venues used as stages, that really have the power to set the tone of the experience. Office spaces such as the claustrophobic room at Palazzo Volpe (showing Catherine Christer Hennix’s perceptual environment Soliton(e) Star / Zero-Time) may have become expected in relation to sound art installations. It may be the opposite in the case of a non-typical art venue such as the Evangelical Methodist Church, as well as historical places not usually open to the public such as the Modernissimo Cinema, or not historicized –turned into a historic display – such as the back rooms of Palazzo Pezzoli.


Michele Rizzo, Billy Bultheel, P420 Gallery, P420, P420 Arte Contemporanea, Live Arts Week, Live Arts Week 2019, Bologna, performance, art

Michele Rizzo/Billy Bultheel, Prospect < E V A > at P420 Arte Contemporanea. Photo Matilde Soligno


In the meantime, spaces already devoted to contemporary art where distracted from visual arts to be invaded by more live installations. Such was the case of P420 Gallery and Michele Rizzo’s performative environment Prospect < E V A >, with performers guided by Billy Bultheel’s sounds – a live work in line with the festival’s tendency to an absolute involvement of the audience in a transformative process.

Live Arts Week VIII, April 4-13, 2019. Various locations, Bologna

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by Matilde Soligno
in News

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