Francesca Serfeda, founder and curator of the Latte Project, talks about the first project of the artist’s residency: “The Blessing of the Magical Ceramics of Rachelle Montoro”
Text by Francesca Cerfeda –
Blessing of Magic Pottery
I met Rachelle Montoro in the winter of 2019 during a residency at Casa Morra in Naples, designed and curated by Cesare Pietrousti. Rachelle was primarily a photographer, with a special personal interest in astrology, tarot cards and that occult-magical world that is an integral and intuitive part of Neapolitan culture.
I remember during those months spent at Casa Morra, Rachelle read cards to many of the artists participating in the residency, revealing to them the future regarding issues of love, career, luck. This action was not limited to the simple distribution of newspapers, it was a real performance, oscillating between cabaret and prophecy, light in approach, but deep in content.
In the room parallel to the one where the “readings” took place, one of the most beautiful works of the Morra collection was exhibited and remains – a large blue neon by Vettor Pisani with the inscription “My heart is a dark abyss.” And, perhaps, it is precisely in that dark abyss that develops and towards which it strives that Rachel’s researches, where the unconscious, fiction, ambiguity are articulated in a complex pantomime, packaged in a theatrical image that is as ironic as it is tense. .
When Claudia Di Francesco and I started thinking about the artist residency project that would be developed as part of the program last October MilkI immediately thought of Rachel’s work and her innate ability to create relationships through her performative interventions. The participation and relationship aspects were exactly what we were interested in and wanted to focus on when creating this project.
We decided to invite Rachel Montoro with her astrological alter ego Paola Volpe, a strange version of Paolo Fox (with a hint of Britney Spears) who specialized in energy rituals and astrological cabers.
Latte was transformed into the astrological studio of Paola Volpe, and for the occasion Festival of Sisters the performance was born”Like a call to all my stupid blood“, where a group of ten people, selected based on their astrological conditions, were involved in an energetic ritual of unification. The ritual involved an exchange; each participant brought with him a gift, which was given to the artist-oracle for the construction of his wunderkammer.
All this took place in the atmosphere of the nineties, including posters, stickers and animated graphics specially created by Claudia Di Francesco for Paola Volpe.
Subsequently, Paola Volpe, aka Rachelle, began modeling a series of small apotropaic ceramic amulets in the studio. CERAMIC WORKSHOP FAENZA Andrea Kotlyarsky.
Several days of work followed, as a result of which forty amulets were born, modeled in the month of May, after two terrible floods that turned the daily life of the city of Faenza and its inhabitants upside down.
These are funny figures with clear references to the world of cartoons and pop culture. Small sculptures created by the hands of the artist, his partner, friends and curious people of all ages, industry workers and beginners.
Icons born from an unexpected choral, liberating and unifying act.
A magical ritual, where Rachel, in the role of a pop ascetic, listened to those present, distributing advice dictated by the conjunction of the stars, providing them with horoscopes and prophecies. Around this worktable, forms were created that were devoid of any pretentiousness or stylistic ambition, the result of a more or less conscious gesture, a celebration of life and lightness. The artist gave each amulet a name and properties, turning them into real protective objects that ward off adversity and attract good luck.
The amulets and their prophecies were photographed and recorded in a small hybrid almanac (something between a horoscope page and a crime magazine).
The return of the residence will take place at the beginning of September on the occasion of Made in Italy (a biennial event dedicated to ceramics), with the performance “Blessing of Magic Pottery”where the sculptures created during Paola Volpe’s stay in the city of Faenza will have the value of magical objects with which participants will be able to connect.
The operation carried out by the artist during these months of research was similar to the scheme present in legends or fairy tales, where the gift-giving sorceress gives the hero a magical object and a saving prophecy that can help him on his journey; Surely for us and for those who met Paola Volpe, it was exactly like that!
Latte Project Space takes shape in Faenza in 2021, conceived by Francesca Cerfeda and Claudia Di Francesco. The project was born from the decision to transform the studio into a shared space where emerging artists could be invited to discuss aesthetic practices, creating a new channel for contemporary art.