(Film still) Alone, Together (2021). Copyright and courtesy the artist.
View the trailer for Alone, Together below
Alone, Together (2021) is a site-specific video installation by Carolina Mazzolari created in close collaboration with Kristen McNally and Ilaria Martello. The work will be presented in Venice at D3082 Domus Civica Art Gallery from 15 July – 31 August 2023.
Comprising a collage of large-scale video projections and an all-encompassing cloth installation, the artwork is an evocative metaphor for the rituals of women’s collective labour spaces. D3082 is in the Le Chiovere district in Venice, an area that was dedicated to the historic practice of outdoor public laundries.
Using the gallery’s location and architecture as a point of departure, Mazzolari will create an environment that is experienced differently from day to night. A billowing cloth installation will hang to resemble the masses of laundry often found drying in the streets many years ago. By day, passers-by will see this cloth installation activated by fans, and at dusk, large-scale video projections will illuminate and transform the space. In addition, Mazzolari will present one of her ‘Line’ tapestries in response to the central installation.
The projected video work is of a choreography performed and envisioned by McNally and Mazzolari during the 2020-2021 pandemic-enforced lockdown. Rooted in solidarity and womanhood, it depicts a choreographed rite inspired by the aforementioned collective acts of female labour. The final element of this site-specific installation will be a series of outdoor public dance performances that will take place on la Via of Le Chiovere just outside the walls of the gallery space. Following McNally’s choreography, they will be performed by local Italian ballet and acrobatic dancers.
McNally says about the choreography,
“I was inspired by the way the body is required to move during the process of washing and dyeing cloth. I’m interested in transforming the movements within these everyday rituals – which is choreography in itself – into the language of dance.”
Long months of COVID-19 isolation and distance impacted theatre productions, but also provided a new context for the themes of the work to emerge, including sisterhood, camaraderie, touch, repetition, and space. McNally began the choreography remotely while in isolation at home and later travelled with Mazzolari and Martello to the protected national reserve of the Portofino waters to complete the filming.
The film is set on a large fallen tree floating near a shore – the water an ode to the history of these public laundries. Close-ups and slow-motion in the dream-like work capture the dancer’s physical essence. It is a transfiguration of an historic, collective act of female efforts, into a liberating piece of choreography where Mazzolari and McNally transform the traditional exhausting labour of washing and dyeing clothes into a dramatic performance immersed in water and nature. The footage of the solo dance in the Italian Portofino national park water is merged with a black box studio performance and the two contrasting spheres of existence fade in and out of one another. Mazzolari explores inherent dualities using double vision choreography, where movement, water and music share a deep connection. The musical score is composed by Mazzolari and Chrys Ward, and produced by Arthur Baker. Largely influenced by the work of artist and composer Mira Calix, it builds on her in-depth research in the field and her desire to layer sound, ritual and rhythm.
When describing the work Mazzolari says,
“within the performance lies a multitude of metaphors. By working together in new ways, we wanted to express the power and profundity of the lost shared female experience. Feelings of loss for traditional rituals and collective spaces, combined with the potentiality of catharsis in menial repetitive tasks.”
Alone, Together evolved from a series of video portraits filmed by Mazzolari started with Deborah Gismondi (a former ballet dancer at La Scala di Milano) in 2011 in Italy. Titled I Dance Alone and I-II-III, the video portraits aimed to capture the ethos of women / dancers while appearing to break from their classical repertoire. These videos began to function as research and led directly to this larger, more ambitious project. In 2012 Mazzolari collaborated with the artist Conrad Shawcross, producing textiles for the costumes of Machina, a Royal Ballet commission, part of a triple bill tribute to Dame Monica Mason during the 2012 London Olympics program. This is where Mazzolari met Ilaria Martello, currently senior costume production manager at The Royal Opera House, London and executive producer for Alone, Together (2021).
With thanks to: PortofinoDivers, Dr.Alfio Puglisi – Director of Special Projects at SARP, Sarp Gallery – Etna. Special thanks to Luca Berta and Mira Calix.
For press enquiries and images please contact Alexia Menikou | firstname.lastname@example.org
Download this press release and a selection of film stills HERE
View the trailer below
“Le lavandaie, che di solito provenivano dagli strati più bassi della classe operaia, non solo entrarono a far parte del gruppo di donne con accesso al mondo del lavoro remunerato, ma furono anche percepite come una collettività che simboleggiava la relazione tra l’acqua, il lavare e la femminilità. A volte, questa relazione tra ambiente, lavoro e identitá di genere creava scenari di libertà, dove le lavandaie potevano conversare, ridere, cantare e fumare insieme, stringendo vincoli di solidarietà e cameratismo che, almeno in parte, alleviavano le penurie e i sacrifici della loro vita quotidiana. Le lavandaie e le loro condizioni di lavoro ispirarono espressioni artistiche diverse, dalla pittura, alla fotografia, la musica e la letteratura.
‘Female laundry workers generally came from working class backgrounds and were characterized as part of a group of women entering the paid labor force. They were also perceived as being part of a distinct collective that came to symbolize a relationship between water, washing, and femininity. On occasion, this relationship between environment, work, and gender identity created a liberating space for socializing, where female laundry workers could talk, laugh, sing, and smoke together. Through these social interactions, they created a sense of solidarity and camaraderie, partially alleviating the difficulties and sacrifices they faced in their daily lives. These female laundry workers and their working conditions inspired artistic expressions, including paintings, photography, music, and literature.’
(Gallini, Stefania, Laura Felacio, Angélica Agredo, and Stephanie Garcés. “The City’s Currents: A History of Water in 20th-Century.” Environment & Society Portal, Virtual Exhibitions 2014, no. 3. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. doi.org/10.5282/rcc/6295.)
NOTES TO EDITORS
D3082, DOMUS CIVICA ART GALLERY
Alone, Together was originally inspired by the northern Italian canals, where the public washing of clothes was once commonplace, most notably in the Le Chiovere district in which Domus Civica resides.
The video installation is presented at Domus Civica’s recently launched gallery space – D3082 WOMAN ART VENICE – a research space and artistic incubator dedicated to multidisciplinary female creativity. Domus Civica has been supporting women since 1921 offering refuge and affordable accommodation to women in need. Over the years, its activity has been extended to include a summer hostel (1995) and a gallery (in 2019), both an integral parts of organisation. While fragments of the central video work will be projected onto white drying bed sheets, the experiential aspect of the video installation will incorporate the recognisable stretch of window fronts belonging to D3082. Alone, Together’s feminist voice is echoed and explored further through the domestic and monumental remanences of Domus Civica’s unique history.
Carolina Mazzolari, Artist and Director
Mazzolari (1981) lives and works in London. She studied at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano NABA (1999 – 2001) and at London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design (2000 – 04).
Mazzolari’s practice as a textile artist underpins her interest in pre and post-war social issues and today’s female labour. She previously worked as a textile designer involved in industrial factory production. Her work is also influenced by reminiscences of her childhood, of a fast-changing Italian society largely based in craftsmanship and manufacturing.
Spanning textile manipulations, printing, painting, photography, video, and performance, Mazzolari’s practice is inspired by psychoanalysis, cognition, human behaviour and socio-emotional development. Her ongoing series of contemporary abstract tapestries, The Fields, is the materialization of elusive, emotional and states of mind. A depiction of metaphorical inner landscapes that were initially inspired by Kurt Lewin’s field theory’s diagrams and Carl Jung’s scripts of the collective unconscious. All maps are hand-embroidered and dyed using a technique of layering and the larger works are made with the help of ‘Fine Cell Work’ a registered charity that employs and rehabilitates prisoners with needlework across the UK.
Her time as a designer involved a complete immersion into the Italian knitting Jacquard factories, where she worked with industrial machines and a large team of local craftswomen. This still informs and interests the core of her practice today.
Kristen McNally, Dancer and Choreographer
Born in Liverpool McNally trained with Elizabeth Hill before joining The Royal Ballet School in London. She graduated into The Royal Ballet Company in 2002 and progressed through the ranks to her current position as Principal Character Artist.
Her repertoire includes The Statement (Crystal Pite), Empress Elisabeth (Mayerling), Carabosse (The Sleeping Beauty), Madame (Manon), ‘M’ (Ek’s Carmen), Lead Harlot, Lady Capulet, Nurse (Romeo and Juliet), Cook (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Bertha (Giselle), The Wife (The Concert). She has created roles in Untouchable Hofesh Shechter, Flight Pattern Crystal Pite, The Wind Arthur Pita, Les Enfants Terribles Javier de Frutos, The Cellist Cathy Marston.
She is also a choreographer, having made works for The Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, Scottish Ballet and BalletBoyz. She recently choreographed a piece for for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert (2022) and for the Channel 4 Paralympic Homecoming (2021). She has also done movement direction for Vogue, Vampire Wife, Harper’s Bazaar and Lululemon.
Ilaria Martello, Costume Design and Executive Producer
Martello graduated with a BA(Hons) in English and German Literature in Milan, followed by an MA in Textiles at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is a PhD candidate at London College of Fashion, UAL, and was awarded the Techne Doctoral Training Partnership in 2015.
She joined the Royal Opera House in 2003 where she has worked extensively across different departments both for the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera. She currently holds the position of Senior Costume Production Manager.
Her costume design credits include the ballet Optional Family by Kyle Abraham for the Royal Ballet (2021), Noumena by Alexander Whitley for the Royal Ballet (2017), Void and Fire by Robert Binet for the Royal Ballet (2016), Enticement’s Lure by Valentino Zucchetti for New English Ballet Theatre (2016).
She was the costume consultant for the Oskar Schlemmer Estate in 2019 for the reconstruction of two original performances by Oskar Schlemmer commissioned by Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery, London + Frieze Art Fair, London.
More recently she has been working closely with ballet dancers as a mentor and dramaturg. She is also a freelance writer, a guest lecturer in the field of costume and a mentor for the City of Westminster programme City Lions, guiding and supporting young people to get involved in the creative industries.
Credits: Carolina Mazzolari (artist, director and producer), Kristen McNally (choreographer and dancer), Ilaria Martello (costumes and concept), Irene Serra (musician – underwater performance) , Silvia Gin (film editor), Mariana Costa (underwater filming coDirector), Marco Luitprandi (artistic coordinator), Luca Ferro (project mapping), Theo Sanders (lights), Chrys Ward (composer, music), Arthur Baker (music production), Valeria Pulici (graphic design).
Credit line: Alone, Together (2021) is at D3082 (Domus Civica Gallery), Calle de le Sechere, 3082, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy from 15 July – 31 August 2023.