Salgemma had the pleasure of interviewing Donato Loforese and Patrizia Mastrapasqua, founders of Esposizioni Sud Est, a domestic space in Conversano open to contemporary art research and practices. In addition, we had the opportunity to ask some questions to artist Alberte Agerskov, who is currently exhibiting 'Rhizomatic Correspondence Piece Extract 2 (RCP: E2)' at Esposizioni Sud Est, which can still be visited until 3 September 2023.

In less than a year since its inception, your independent activity in the domestic context of Conversano has faced a new challenge: that of expanding into a non-domestic context. Specifically, the opportunity to create an installation in relation to the abandoned architecture of the Castiglione Tower in Conversano emerged, giving rise to a long-term research and residency process. What was the inspiration or the need that prompted you to change and expand your artistic research and production activities so rapidly?

We have only been active for a very few months, Esposizioni Sud Est was officially born in early 2023 mainly to connect us to the territory of Conversano - the city where we have lived together for a short time - and to activate a place where artistic practices and critical actions can bring us physically together with the community.

Our constant desire is to work for operations instead of manufacturing objects, and this has led us to collaborate with people who explore the interstitial zones of artistic disciplines as well as moving between private and public space.

In the case of the Castiglione Tower, the choice is consequent to this thought, moreover, disused areas are often places that escape a hegemonic design or programme, they are spaces open to all kinds of possibilities. Our method has no fixed rules, but responds to the needs of the projects we host. We are interested in exploring and redefining the very concept of exhibition, the act of exhibiting as a further field of research, shifting our gaze from a familiar vision

Alberte Agerskov - Rhizomatic Correspondence Piece Extract 2 (RCP: E2) - Esposizioni Sud Est 2023- Photo: Nicla Marzano
On the occasion of the current exhibition at our premises, in collaboration with the artist Alberte Agerskov, what aspect of production did you take care of and support? Were there collaborations both locally and across borders? And in particular, what did the city of Conversano offer in this context?

For us, hosting artists in our home, and living with them, already somehow has the meaning of curation. We would like to be able to recover the deeper meaning of the word, only then can curatorial practice become a fluid space of dialogue.

Exposure South East is an exercise in this fluidity, a process of exchange and substitution of the roles of artistic making and critical action. One of the goals of our residential method and artistic work in general is to be supported financially and still be completely independent, that is what we try to do. The support expands and modifies according to the needs of the project, and from time to time we try to bring the artist into dialogue with other spaces and cultural institutions, because we believe that staying in an area can become an opportunity for future collaborations.

In the case of Alberte Agerskov, we were able to present the project with three different displays. A preview of the work was exhibited during "Baitball #03", a collective dedicated to realities active in visual arts research and the production of contemporary languages operating in the Apulian territory; the sound work by RCP: E2 installed at the Torre di Castiglione thanks to the municipality's authorisation, and finally a part of the work process on display in our space in Conversano (which can be visited until 3 September 2023 by appointment).

Conversano, due to its geographical position, we consider it a small 'port', one of those places that are welcoming both for the local community and for the passage of people from different countries. We were looking for a place near the sea, and you can feel the sea from here.

Alberte Agerskov -Rhizomatic Correspondence Piece Extract 2 (RCP: E2) - Esposizioni Sud Est 2023- Photo: Nicla Marzano
Alberte can you tell us how the exhibition is composed?

On show now at Esposizione Sud Est is Paper chair 03 - a wooden structure covered with flour, paper and water, resting on a grid of mirrors. On the wall you can find RCP : E2 presented in a set of headphones and mirror 01 - a pocket mirror with a lipstick drawing on top.

Lately the sculptural part of my practice has been examining myths and material memories through the use of mediums that evolve or expand over time, numbing the human sense of control and overview. I use materials that are often ingested or smothered on our skins. In Paper chair 03, an imprint of the human body is perceived in the (usually) functional object, creating a crystallized, recorded material meeting of a short-lived amalgamation of mass, implying an infra-mince trace, as proposed by Duchamp.

The sculptures emphasize my idea of the human body as an extension of the chair (or the chair as an extension of the human body). When seated, the chair becomes a concentrated point of trust from the human to the non-human: we give into the chair, release ourselves to its support. The mirror placed below the chair composes a faux, flattened, fragile pedestal. It invites us to approach the chair closely, without using it for its regular purpose, which would immediately break the balance: our weight, as it amalgamates with the chair’s, would break the mirrored glass. The chair can only be approached in new ways: touched, smelled and reflected upon.

At my exhibition, Silphiofera in Milan in May 2023, curated by Angela Vettese, in collaboration with Provinciale 11, I made a landscape of flour, paper and birth control pills, to tell the myth of the ancient Silphium flower. Working with contraceptive inequity led my attention to the allegory between the image of the flower and that of the woman. Personally I’ve experienced innumerable parallels, girls and women being compared to flowers, drawing on similarities such as fertility, fragility or beauty.

The work, Rhizomatic correspondence piece : extract 2 (RCP : E 2), that is on show at ESE, is a sound-based work that I hope to let grow over the following years. RCP tries to reorient and potentialise the flower x female allegory by using the root-like, spontaneous and uncontrollable networks that plants and flowers continuously create to connect women.

It started by me sharing a personal experience about my mind-body being controlled by a system and its pre-defined medical technologies. Firstly, I extended an invitation and shared a story of mine by email to women close to me. Second, I asked them to continue the chain and email their own thoughts to others, growing the conversation through intimate stories across, or underneath the crisp, ephemeral crust of country borders.

In the headphone version of extract 2 (RCP:E2), I wanted to work with the idea of intimacy by compressing the experience. There’s only one set of headphones, and just one body can approach the work at a time. Once you put on the headphones, you will be transported to a nocturnal field of voices - you might hear footsteps beneath your torso, could they be yours? You might gasp for breath, or for understanding, for some kind of logic. But I invite you to let yourself flow too. Let go, and start listening. New lines might be drawn, and other meanings might be found if you read between them.


Alberte Agerskov - Silphiofera, Centro Artistico Alik Cavaliere, Milano, 2023 - Photo: Michael James

This “third landscape of the voice”, in your artistic experience, is interconnected with many different cultures, places and languages ​​thus becoming a single continent of signifiers and diversity > what new meaning can we give to this landscape?

Originally the work is site specific, and every extract is related not only to the amount of voices participating, but also to the place where it is installed during that particular extract. For extract 2, in the ruins near Torre de Castiglione, the speakers where hidden in the landscape to let the voices flow and amalgamate. Moving through the space, one navigates in an invisible, sonic architecture composed of female voices from different cultural, linguistic and biological backgrounds all invited to ask questions and intertwine in a correspondence that is both intimate and anonymous. When bringing the project to Puglia with ESE, my scope was to further explore the idea of Terrain Vague (Willy Ørskov) or Tiers Passage (Gilles Clement). 

The RCP is abstract and poetic, but by using the theory of Clement, I want to give it an almost physical character. Clement speaks of the third landscapes as undecided spaces, or forgotten corners of cultivations, where machines cannot pass to cultivate and regulate. 

Women are often subject to national regulations that more or less subtly control and define how they should relate to their bodies, their possible fertility, their hormonal state or even their mental health. The third landscapes are instead devoid of function and therefore difficult to name. Haing  been neglected for the nonprofitable character, or awaiting regulation for how to be exploited, these landscapes gain freedom as they express neither power nor submission to power. Clement draws these spaces together exactly because of their diversity:  “There is no similarity in form between these fragments of landscape. Only one common point: they all constitute a refuge area for diversity. Everywhere else, diversity is driven out”. 

In the RCP exactly this gathering around diversity is key, intersectionality is a must, and so is listening. I ask everyone who participates to listen fully to the story they receive from someone else, even if the story is in a mother tongue different from their own. The third landscape of the voice helps us to create a root network, an uncontrollable deep under-earth-scape, where female voices grow and connect in all directions.  

Alberte Agerskov -Paper chair 03: Mirror, wood, tissue paper, flour. 40x40x70cm- Esposizioni Sud Est 2023- Photo: Nicla Marzano
Alberte Agerskov - Mirror 01: Pocket mirror, lipstick, 6x18cm Pocket mirror, lipstick, 6x18cm, Rhizomatic Correspondence Piece Extract 2 (RCP: E2) - Esposizioni Sud Est 2023- Photo: Nicla Marzano
“Rhizomatic Correspondence Piece Extract 2 (RCP: E2)” on which double practice is it developed? In my opinion there is a writing/recording exercise and a second "political exercise", in asking and re-asking many more questions about contemporary society that still lives with preconceptions and discrimination and giving voice to the experiences that women live on several levels between private and public.

The double practice as a trans-disciplinary practice, manifested as artistic research in material and myth tied to my architectural interest in structure and phenomenology. In this project, for example, I want to ignore or unravel ideas of public and private - these two terms are social constructs and have no roots underground. I also don’t care for the work being political, but more think of creating a root network that works across space and time, a sort of accretion, slowly gathering and growing in matter and weight.

The aim of this project is not to reveal the stories of the participating women to the world. If we were to do that, we would be adding to a silenced archive of already existing clichés, written down, recorded, translated. What we are trying to do instead is to connect voices and memories materially: sonic vibrations filled with air, sweat, excitement, feeling, rage, anger, frustration, pride, wonder, happiness, confusion. Banal and dramatic stories flow into one, because each audio stands for an intimate experience, important to this person’s relation to a feminine body or a feminine mind.

When you stop trying to categorize and put into boxes, you suddenly start noticing connections and differences interlacing the spoken words and meanings and hints and laughs, gathering your own idea of the sense.

There’s something about listening to hesitations and rhythms in the voice of someone exhaling a language you don’t understand, which connects you to their message. This is felt more than heard, and perhaps some meaning will come across to resonate in deeper ways with the visitor this way.

**“Entre ces fragments de paysage aucune similitude de forme. Un seul point commun : tous constituent un territoire de refuge à la diversité. Partout ailleurs celle – ci est chassée”. 

Alberte Agerskov -RCP:E2, Audible Reality: Headphones, Voices, Rhizomatic Correspondence Piece Extract 2 (RCP: E2) - South East Expositions 2023- Photo: Nicla Marzano

Esposizione Sud Est was born from the encounter between Donato Loforese (designer and visual artist) and Patrizia Mastrapasqua (designer and street artist). A domestic space open to research and contemporary artistic practices, where unconstrained methodologies converge, but with a predisposition - increasingly urgent - for transdisciplinary research. Site-specific projects, relational art actions, installation displays and editorial projects are the tools used to involve communities, institutions and independent spaces in dialogue processes.
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