ISLANDS OF TIME

NICCOLÒ MASINI

Inventario nº 319200 – Archibo general de la nacion / Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Islands of Time explores the relationships between the formulation of the intangible feeling of belonging and the construction of geographical identity. The project attempts to overcome the linear conception of time and to approach issues such as memory and movement considering past, present and future deeply entangled, inasmuch as the global geopolitical context. It analyzes collective memory and the archive as a representational construct trying to weave new textures in history and see otherwise. The project unfolds from diaspora archives to arrive through research to multidisciplinary visual/cinematic experimentations. The study is centered as a means to observe tangible and intangible migratory processes, their mapping and traces, in relation to borders and colonization, and economic-political processes that originated imposed fluxes of the labour force, with the aim to narrate other histories.

“Perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already completed definition, which specific cultural practices represent, we should instead think of identity as an ongoing “composition”: never complete, always in the process of, always embodied within and not outside representation.” — Abbasi, Hasti (2017)

The essays in this project are concerned with an anti-nostalgic undoing of the notion that there is an immutable link between cultures, peoples, or identities and the construct of the nation. The confidence in this permanent joint between a particular culture and a territory has served to ground our modern governing concepts of nations and cultures. In these powerful conceptual frameworks, there is a homology between culture, a people, or a nation and its particular land, and both culture and land are regarded as homogeneous in relation to cultures/places (even if those are characterized by internal differentiation). A series of related spatially conceived hierarchical dualities have flowered from and depended upon this mode of conceiving culture and nation. Such binaries radically distinguished as well as hierarchize “home” and “abroad”, the West and the Orient, the center and the margin, and the subject of study and the disciplinary object of study.

In the book Collective memory and cultural identity, Jan Assmann (1995) refers to cultural memory as an ideological island located on a temporality suspended from time; such islands of time expand into memory spaces of retrospective contemplativeness. Every individual consciousness constructs itself through its communication with others. These others, however, are not just any set of people; rather, they are groups which conceive their unity and peculiarity through a common image of their past. Every individual belongs to numerous of such groups and therefore maintains many collective self-images and memories. A certain knowledge about the past can acquire the properties and functions of one’s individual consciousness when related to one’s identity.

A central part of the research, will be the utilization and manipulation of found migratory archives and the use of living archives. This includes a spectrum of different approaches to deal artistically with: already existing archives, systematic archives, unclassified archives, new archives, incomplete archives, hidden archives, and personal or third parties archives. Keeping in consideration the role of ethnographic practice in both the creation of archives, and how a state, trough archives, controls narratives relating to diasporic cultural identity, memory and experience.

Living archives materials study. Various sizes (personal archive)

PILGRIMAGE AS A METHODOLOGY  

A specific pattern is visualized in the proximity of borders through the use of existing and assembled archives and the study of cartographies. For each case study, the detailed work in archives results will unfold possibly showing patterns and links between political propaganda as well as ideologies and the decisions taken about geographical border delimitations. A substantial amount of on-site fieldwork will be conducted. The research scrutinizes the role that colonization holds within geographical areas strongly affected by different kinds of migratory processes, both as colonized and colonizer. In each case study, the research will attempt to ‘track’ the sequence of events and to identify changing meanings and connotations associated with particular physical ‘places’ – be they temporary settlements, connection points, limits, crossing paths or bridges.

During the different phases of the research, after addressing the dimension of locality, the objective would be to develop a visual representation that highlights the methodologies of archival conservation, to trace visualization of borders genealogies present in the analyzed displaced diaspora phenomena. Specific knowledge about the past draws attention to the ingredients required for the process of documentation, in the process of highlighting how history is recorded, framed, and manufactured via photography, folklore, and literature. Through a visual methodological analysis of on-site living/archival materials, shape the role played by these modes in the perversion of knowledge production and diffusion, and the construction of a “collective consciousness.”

The project explores the construction of identity in a transcultural context and examines the ambivalence and complexity of territorial and cultural boundaries. The work, as a tangible representation of the notion of the border on a definition of culture in motion, will investigate the formation processes of different “confined” geographical areas, generating hypotheses regarding the construction of memory and creation of myths. This would be a visual experimentation divided into acts of existence, aiming to create an analogy in the action of remembering and mapping movements. During the project, crossing the boundaries of moving images making; to serve as a tool to generate awareness of the real through the imagined. A journey to investigate the feeling of belonging and not belonging, in an attempt to emphasize the inherent weightlessness and instability of any memory or un-recollection. The final outcome will identify as a venture towards temporality, as if a specific location, memory, or thought could serve us as a metaphor for existence. 

Islands of Time – Visual experimentation 001 (Video/Screenshot), Mixed media (2019)

LOCATIONS

01 “NOMADIC EXPERIENCE / MEMORY AS A FORM OF RESILIENCE” 

– El Boujdour Refugee camp / Western Sahara Territories – November 2019

02 “THE ISLAND AS A BRIDGE FOR MEMORY”

– Salina (IT) – Aeolian Island – April/May 2020

03 “A LAND AS A CONSTRUCT OF MEMORIES” (In progress)

– Argentina – June/July 2020

SUMMARY

Project Title: Islands of Time

Project by: Niccolò Masini

Dates and duration: November 2019 / September 2020

Confirmed  location(s): (In progress)

– Location 01-  El Boujdour (MA/WS), Western Sahara territories – November 2019

– Location 02 – Salina (IT), Aeolian Island – April/May 2020

Confirmed venues: (In progress)

– El Boujdour, Sahrawis refugee camp / Western Sahara territories / September 2020

– Salina / Amaneï Salina (IT) – Aeolian Island / May 2020

Text Editor: Giulia Crispiani

BIOGRAPHY

Niccolò Masini is an Italian Multidisciplinary Artist. He holds a BFA in Animation and Illustration from the European Institute of Design – Milan (2011), a BFA in Audiovisual Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academia of Amsterdam (2015), and, he is currently following an MFA in art praxis at the Dutch Art Institute of Arnhem (2021). Masini’s artworks lay in the realm of narrative and craft, but also poetry and anthropology. It guides both its creator and audience through an engaging narrative of methods, voices, views, and perspectives. Questioning the fundamentals and the hidden rules the concept of « culture,» he draws his inspiration from literature, history, folklore, psychoanalysis, religion, anthropology, or even simply daily life experiences. His work encompasses video, installation, research, and painting; but the process of image-making remains central to his way of working. He is absorbed in the idea of creating something out of time, space, and movement, bringing the otherwise immaterial into a composition of physical being, often with a mixture of techniques regarding the specificities of every project he’s working with. Practicing on three continents, his work has been exhibited internationally in countries such as The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Korea, England, South Africa, Italy, and Japan. Winner of numerous international prizes, competitions, and residencies, in 2018 he was awarded as the Best Young Artist Of The Year (Painting & Sculpture) by the GAMMA competition and GM conference of Tokyo. To date, he lives and works between Genoa and Montréal. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Anatomy of restlessness”

Bruce Chitwin / Published by Jonathan Cape – 1996

“Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity ”

Smadar Lavie, Ted Swedenburg  / Duke University Press – 2013

 

“Collective Memory and Cultural Identity”

Jan Assmann / New German Critique, No. 65, Cultural History/Cultural Studies – 1995

“Geographical Uncertainties”

Alessandro Ricci / EXORMA editore – 2017

“The Ideology of Exile in an Imaginary Life.”

Abbasi, Hasti  / Antipodes, vol. 31, no. 1, Wayne State University Press / 2017

“The Globalization of Space: Foucault and Heterotopia”

Michel Foucault / John Miller (2015)

“Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity”

Mark Augè / Paperback (2009)

“The Culture of Ethics”

Franco La Cecla – Prickly Paradigm Press, LLC (2013)

“Perdersi”

Franco La Cecla – Prickly Paradigm Press, LLC (2015)

“The Development of European Identity/Identities: Unfinished Business“

Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities  (2012)

“Towards a Genealogy of Europe’s Migrant Spaces: A Map-Archive of Border Zones.”

Martina Tazzioli (2018)

”European Borders and Identity from the materialist Approach”

Basia Nikiforova – Lithuanian Culture Research Institute (2016)

”Politics/Poetics”

Teresa Macrì – Postmediabook (2014)

“The Desert Rock That Feeds the World”

Alex Kasprak – The Atlantic / November (2016)