During the weekend of April 28–30, 2023, Archivio Conz opened Living Room. The inaugural program of Living Room featured Luciano Chessa performing Walter Marchetti’s Natura Morta and Robert Ashley’s Maneuvers for Small Hands, Esther Ferrer presenting her work Performance art: Theory and Practice, and Cia Rinne performing sentences.
The choice for Luciano Chessa to pair together Natura Morta and Maneuvers for Small Hands in a series of two consecutive concerts chronicles the friendship, intellectual exchange, and mutual admiration between Marchetti and Ashley, witnessed firsthand by Chessa. After Ashley’s last performance at Mills College in Oakland in 2014, he asked Chessa if he had played Natura Morta yet, given that for Ashley it was one of the most moving piano pieces ever written.
Natura Morta (1980), composed by ZAJ co-founder Walter Marchetti, is an hour-long work written for a grand piano whose closed-top lid is entirely taken over by a cornucopia of fruit, vegetables, flowers, and bread. An almost shapeless, uninterrupted single line at first appears to proceed aimlessly. What is first perceived as non-directional, however, eventually reveals an inevitable teleology. The inexorable flow of life slowly unfolds, progressing towards the one certainty: that of one’s transience.
Following Chessa’s performance of Natura Morta, Esther Ferrer presented Performance art: Theory and Practice. Esther Ferrer was a prominent member of ZAJ from 1967 onwards, experimenting with body, energy, objects, voice, ideas, and reasoning in her performances. Presence, space, and time intervene in her actions to elicit effects and interpretations from the viewer. Ferrer plays with unnerving the spectator, using the absurdity of the situation as a catalyst for action. Without intending to communicate anything, Ferrer urges spectators to find something, to invent their own stories and connections. From here, the presence of the person performing the action (Ferrer), the presence of those who receive and actively or passively participate in the action (the audience), and the space-time in which the action unfolds, together form the performance.
On April 29th, Chessa performed Robert Ashley’s Maneuvers for Small Hands, a notated composition and puzzle-box from 1961 which Francesco Conz made into an edition in 1988. This piece – a score that through a complex assembling process becomes a tridimensional object – is a reflection on the act of music-making which calls for a disassembling of it to its most fundamental components: composing, performing and listening. The focus of the composer here shifts away from the selection of pitches and rhythms, and moves on to contemplate the acoustics and dimension of the venue, the placement of the audience, that of the performer.
Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, audiovisual and performance artist, and music historian. Chessa's compositions include A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with original video by Kalup Linzy; Cromlech, a large organ piece he wrote for Melbourne’s Town Hall Organ; and the opera Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago, a work merging experimental theater with reality TV which required from the cast over 55 hours of fasting. Chessa has been commissioned multiple times by the Performa Biennial, and in 2014 he presented three events at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as part of the exhibition Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe. Chessa’s work appeared more than once in Artforum, Flash Art, Art in America, and Frieze; and has been featured in the Italian issue of Marie Claire and in the September Issue of Vogue Italia. Luciano Chessa would like to thank Gabriele Bonomo and Loriana Castano for their assistance with Natura Morta, and Mimi Johnson and Alex Waterman for their help with Maneuvers for Small Hands.
On April 30th, Berlin-based poet, author, and artist Cia Rinne performed sentences. Cia's multilingual minimalist texts reduce philosophical and linguistic questions to tonal sequences, playing with phonetic shifts in meaning. Her performances, exhibitions and sound installations have been shown internationally in galleries and museums. She is the author of four volumes of minimalist, conceptual and translingual poetry published in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Switzerland and Canada, most recently sentences, shortlisted for the Prix du livre d’artiste Bob Calle. Cia is the laureate of the Prix littéraire Bernard Heidsieck-Centre Pompidou 2019.
With the dual function of archive and gallery, Living Room at Archivio Conz will host public symposia, performances, and presentations, intimate encounters with artists and scholars, while highlighting editions from Edizioni Conz which will also be for sale.