Bologna is essential for the history of performance in Italy, as is Arte Fiera, which from its very first editions has promoted or hosted performances that have left their mark on the history of performance. Since the very beginning of his tenure, artistic director Simone Menegoi has made live performances a primary aspect of his programme of events.
In 2023, this new collaboration between Arte Fiera and Furla Foundation launches a new chapter in performance, curated by Bruna Roccasalva, the Foundation’s artistic director.
Furla Foundation has always promoted a corporate model based on institutional synergies, and this partnership with Arte Fiera offers a new opportunity to participate actively in the cultural life of Bologna, its native city. For this first edition, Furla Foundation has invited the Public Movement collective, which will present the Italian debut of an ambitious performance. Public Movement, formed in Israel in 2006 by Omer Krieger and Dana Yahalomi, has been led by Yahalomi since 2011 and presents performances with a political and social approach. Merging visual art, dance, performance, and activism, Public Movement uses performance as a form of direct intervention within society, an instrument to trigger situations that promote the development of political conscience and critical thought. Public Movement’s performances consist of controversial actions presented in public spaces – since 2015, in institutions as well – where the group utilises choreography, symbols, governmental rituals, commemorative ceremonies, and emergency procedures, and recontextualises them to investigate the mechanisms that govern the creation of a social, political, and national identity.
Their actions do not remain within the institution and do not regard only the limited sphere of art: on the contrary, they strive for contamination between poetic invention and reality, and by means of this contamination they create room for thought, moments of dialogue which, through art, can stimulate collective consciousness.
For Arte Fiera 2023, the group presents Rescue, a work that merges installation, performance, and choreography and that perfectly exemplifies a performance practice that seeks and feeds on direct confrontation with reality.
First performed in 2015 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Rescue is a sort of dance in which 5 members of the group perform movements that they studied and learned by training with rescue teams in Israel and in Europe. The action takes place in a massive pile of cement rubble, evoking a catastrophe of unknown origin: perhaps a natural disaster, an attack, a war.
The performers’ bodies intertwine in this large cement structure, some helpless in the rubble, others working to find and rescue. Everything is done with calm and precision, as in a State ballet, with live music by Yoni Silver. In this performance, freed of threats or trauma, the rescue operations usually undertaken in sites of large-scale disasters become harmonious and carefully synchronised movements that celebrate intimacy among human bodies, inviting us to reflect on the dynamics that govern our relationship with others.
Like many of Public Movement’s performances, Rescue – despite its plausibility – does not refer to specific or actual events, and for this reason can represent many different ones simultaneously, belonging to our present or past, or to a dystopic future.
Therefore, the performance of Rescue in Bologna may refer to local tragedies such as the terrorist attack at the train station in 1980, or to global tensions such as the current war in Ukraine, but from the poetic elaboration of trauma, in which there is no hate or desperation, may emerge feelings of love and solidarity, evoking a sense of community and unity that bonds audience and performers.
Public Movement has performed in museums, biennials, and festivals throughout the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and the New Museum in New York, the International Biennial in Göteborg, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Berlin Biennial, the Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan, the Pinchuk Art Center in Kiev, the Impulse Festival in Düsseldorf, the Baltic Circle Festival in Helsinki, and Performa in New York.