Dust تراب

"Gian Maria Tosatti's intervention at Casa Bossi accentuates the remains of this abandoned building, transforming it into an inner space of memory, and turning visitors into witnesses.

Tosatti is an artist with origins in the theatre world, and his work is always inspired by the remarkable locations he manages to find. To these, he applies his imagination, turning them into eloquent stage-sets. This organic process starts with the spaces, their past and present, and the stories and memories they harbour.

In Casa Bossi, Tosatti explores the bands of light entering through the windows, introducing barely perceptible pervasive changes: the slightest movement of a pile of dust, some broken glass, dry leaves or a graffiti-covered wall to which a handful of moths is stuck. A slowly dripping tap and an old telephone that sometimes emits a soft noise give the impression that the house retains a remnant of life and form the work's soundtrack, faint but amplified by the empty building.

The few remains, objects from the house's previous life, have not been removed but simply repositioned: an old cast-iron radiator sits in the centre of an empty room, an old iron bed, a leftover from who knows what past life, has been covered with a worn, white sheet as if it had been waiting for someone for quite some time. With its negligible intrusion, the play of chiaroscuro and the dust — shining when crossing the light and creating multiple nuances in the shadows —, the work is subtle to the limits of opportunism. The artist seems to have worked by absence. Despite this, the Tetralogia della polvere [Tetralogy of dust] is paradoxically monumental."

more on this project in this report by Gabi Scardi

“Dust” is a similar project by Xenia Nikolsaya. “Dust” is a photographic exhibition that explores the conditions and relevance of abandoned architectural heritage in Egypt, presenting an entwined dualism: dust as materiality that layers the city, literally tracing the passage of time upon urban objects – but also as a temporal metaphor that registers these changes on the level of memories, both past and present.

Nikolskaya's ”Dust” is complex and multi‐layered in that its qualities not only span the artistic, but also have the added value of documenting Egypt’s fading and forgotten architecture. In addition to the aesthetic value, her series is also a valuable source of in‐depth information, baring long‐term witness to a country’s ongoing economic and social changes.

With Egypt coincidentally progressing though a momentous shift in its history, ”Dust” has come to illustrate an economic stagnation, which has engulfed Egypt over the past three decades. Nikolskaya's project underlines the significance of documenting a country in its transformative phase, and highlights the urgency of reflecting on Egypt’s history in order to understand its future.

more on Dust in the following links:
Absence makes the art
Documenting Egypt's Abandoned Palaces

Dust is also available as a publication

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The people from the barrio built the city twice: during the day we built the houses of the well-off. At night and at weekends, with solidarity, we built our own homes, our barrio.

  —Andrés Antillano, resident of Caracas, April 15, 2004