Exhibition curated by Cristiano Leone

Video Art, Performance, Paintings, Sculpture


Il Bestiario della Terra, Reggio Parma Festival 2022

"Yuval Avital plumbs ancestral archetypes in a ritual that places the contemporary on a level that is both pre-human and post-human. It combines, in fact, two types of initiation, the artistic one - of the τέχνη - and the mystery one - of the μυστικός -. In this view, human and animal dialogue is never mutually exclusive. The result is a work manifesto of the limen, of that border zone between performance art and theatre, between visual and performative. Like a tragedy,  Lessico animale is divided into a prologue and a series of acts. The prologue documents the transformation, through photographs, videos, interviews, etc. Like any lexicon, it is itself destined for further transformation, depending on how it extends in space and time. Yuval Avital's language, according to Roland Barthes' famous formula, "is a skin," an outward manifestation of an atavistic depth to which it adheres, on which it depends and feeds, and for which it is also a zest, protection and epiphany. "
(From the curatorial text by Cristiano Leone.)

Lessico Animale. Prologo. (Animal Lexicon. Prologue) is the third stage - after the icon-sonic installation Il Canto dello Zooforo (Parma, Casa del Suono) and the multimedia exhibition Anatomie Squisite (Reggio Emilia, Musei Civici) - that the artist created within the complex and multiform allegorical journey, whose components form my macro-work "Il Bestiario della Terra" conceived for Reggio Parma Festival 2022, in the discovery of the deepest Self.

Where does humanity end and animality begin?

Lessico Animale (Animal Lexicon) is a complex exploration and investigation of the relationship between Man and Animality, an art rite in which the artist intends to unveil the authentic essence of the human being, taking him back to his instinctive and animalistic origins, overcoming the taboos and cultural superstructures that keep him away from them. An invitation to free oneself from the domination of tomorrow, to live fully in the present moment, to accept and - even - embrace one's own visceral vulnerability. Avital attempts to answer this question with a performance composed of forty exercises that constitute individual performance actions. Through these carefully codified sequences, the performers - nineteen actors from the Casa degli Artisti del Teatro Due in Parma - enter into a distorting experiential process from which they emerge transformed into animals, with an outcome that has a very strong cultural and artistic impact.
An art experiment conducted in real time, with the precious contribution of the exhibition's curator Cristiano Leone who, as a 'dynamic dramatist', during the entire duration of the workshop puts his profound knowledge of performance and medievalism at the service of the project, providing the artistic act with a wide-ranging intellectual contextualization. At the APE Museo, we witness the unedited restitution of the realization of the performance, presented here as a prologue to a process that is still ongoing and will extend its reach to other venues and in other forms.

Through video projections, photographic prints, plaster casts and other objects related to the performance, the creative process of Lessico Animale, which took place at the Teatro Due in Parma in May 2022 over six immersive days, is presented to the public for the first time. The process is a fundamental moment in Avital's artistic instance and an integral part of the work, to the point of becoming its protagonist. For the realisation of Lessico Animale Avital has in fact elaborated a method centred on Voice and Gesture in a series of exercises during which the actors are invited to experiment a new use of their senses, to work with organic materials such as earth, clay and branches, to work on non-verbal communication and on different gaits.

Every day the actors enter a space with a strong symbolic value, the Transformation Room, organised along the cardinal points, where from dawn to dusk their mutation from humans to animals gradually takes place.  Initially they wear a blue uniform that gradually, as the animal state emerges, is removed and replaced by body painting made by Avital himself on their bodies with natural pigments. Moving around a centre of living earth, the performers embark on a journey of initiation: at dawn they wake up as men, at midday they enter into a process of hybridisation and only after sunset does the transformation into animals take place. As animals, they spend the night until the following dawn, and thus cyclically repeat the six days of work. 

After this ritual, the body becomes an autonomous work, free of limits and barriers. On the sixth day, by hiding their heads and faces with masks with a strong allegorical meaning - also made to Avital's design - each of the actors is able to express their deepest truths, to show their innermost, primordial, instinctive, that is, animalistic 'I': the metamorphosis is thus complete. 

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