IO TE E IL MARE is an experimental residency were artists are invited to collaborate together, attempting to form interactions with the local context… often failing along the way.

IO TE E IL MARE 2012 based a group of artists, filmmakers, actors, curators and hangers on in a traditional farmhouse on one of Sicily’s most beautiful volcanic islands, Lipari. We had two weeks, no contacts and definitely no funds to make a Turbo Movie – Alterazioni Video’s scavenged form of filmmaking where actors, music, costumes are all bargained for and produced in situ. 

On Alterazioni Video’s suggestion, this Turbo Movie takes inspiration from Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare d’agosto, or the less interestingly named Swept Away in English, by Lina Wertmüller. For those who haven’t come across the film, it has been described as, “one of the most misogynistic films ever to be made by a woman”. We were skeptical, we were. But lacking a better suggestion and too busy enjoying the local sweet wine Malvasia, we went along with it. This was to be a glorious collaboration with our group on the island and Alterazioni Video in New York holding daily skype chats, sending ideas and passing footage. Too much time in London and Milan, meant that even the rurally-reared amongst us neglected to consider the impossibly slow and sporadic internet connection that a small land mass in the Aeolian sea would have. This led to frustrations and accounts for the, perhaps confused, perhaps genius, pop-neo realistic aesthetic.

Inspired by Dolce & Gabbana and Jean Paul Gualtier advertising as well as the realer than real work of Pierre et Gilles, we set to work on making the film. In a parade of scooters we filmed wherever and whenever we could – the archaeological baths, the beach, marooned on rocks, on a local fishing boat, at the bar, in the shower.

Our savage, feisty fisherwoman hauls up in her net a dead sailor clinging to an inflatable dolphin. In love with the corpse, she performs a spiritual awakening in the cave where she dwells that prompts the sailor back to life – bursting the dolphin. Witnessed by a pair eyes glowing in the darkness, the fisherwoman runs to attack the intruder but finds herself confused and lost in the middle of a local procession. Trapped in her madness, she imagines an apparition of the sailor, covered in a glittering, golden sheen. Twirling and whirling in insanity she imagines that she marries this glitter marinero, the man of her dreams. Only on returning to the cave, the scene of their covetous interaction, does she realise that the sailor has disappeared, leaving nothing but the exploded dolphin in his wake.



(click on the picture to view the album)

IO TE E IL MARE has been working from our house in Piaconte, Lipari, within a horizontal framework to create and develop a script for a new Turbo Movie, as well as find locations, choose actors, search for props… and shoot the damn thing! This involves long discussions, many beers and the odd disagreement! We fed the shot footage and our ideas to Alterazioni Video in New York through the frustratingly stunted island internet connection. This provides a further layer to our collaborative process in which they comment on the work and provide new suggestions and direction in a “blind” distanced authorship that fuses with our hive activity. From this interaction our current neo-realistic pop aesthetic has been born… All hail the Dolce and Gabbana Glitter Marinero!

Just arrived on the Island, I met Maurizio the fisherman. He is the first local to join the “IO TE E  IL MARE” cause. Maurizio goes around the island with his popular van selling fish.. we will take some fish from you very soon, Maurizio!

Also, some other connections have been made in Messina, just a bit before I left to Lipari. So, the first to join us is Gianandrea Caruso, a 25 year old video-maker, then Giulia Giordano, an actress, author and activist. Finally, David R joined the team. David will be documenting the most significant moments of this adventure. Word of mouth has the power to quickly build up a strong team. IO TE E IL MARE is where contemporary art meets show business!

By the end of the day we all met up in Pianoconte.

After several plates of ‘ncaciata’, a full-bellied group at IO TE E IL MARE says good night until tomorrow!

Getting ready for IO TE E IL MARE! So.. list of things to put in my suitcase: a loud and unreasonable dress to make me look like a cartoon for Party Scenario, a good beach book that I can finish before my sunscreen wears off and a ear spray to survive from unplugged ears caused by too many deeps in the sea.. What else do I need?

Our New Neighbours. Lipari inhabitants, called Liparesi or Liparoti, are approximately 8980 in number and are located in the town of Lipari as well as in the small villages on the island: Canneto, Acquacalda, Quattropani and Pianoconte. Lipari was already populated in the last Neolithic age (3500-2000 B.C.), when people from Sicily created the so called “Stentinellian civilization”. They started the trade of obsidian in the Mediterranean.

Explosive origins. Like all the Aeolian archipelago – Salina, Vulcano, Panarea, Stromboli, Alicudi, Filicudi -, Lipari has volcanic origins. Between 160 thousand and 1340 thousand years ago 12 stratified volcanos came to life, among them Monte delle Felci, Timponi, Monte Rosa, creating the largest of the Aeolian archipelago’s islands.

The Castle. The Acropolis, named the Castle, represents the main focus of the historical centre. Neolithic populations from the first metal age, bronze age and Hellenistic age have been proven, through archaelogoical findings, to have settled within its walls.

Networking. Until the mid 900s the Laparoti farmed even the most inaccessible areas on the island: a tight network of paths emanating from inhabited areas criss-crossed over the Lipari’s surface. There were also minor roads and tracks which were used by numerous pumice workers to reach obsidian quarries. The arrival of tourism and the almost immediate abandoning of agriculture for other work, signalled the fall into disuse of most of these tracks. Their traces are hidden beneath the vegetation and can still be followed by foot.

Pianoconte and the Caolino quarries. Crossing the “O Castiddaru” vineyard, you reach the Caolino quarries. The “Cave di Caolino” are kaolinite quarries comprised of a thick series of interstratified pyroclastic beds, volcanic ashes and obsidian flows. Of particular interest are Tolos Miceneo, constructed 3,500 years ago, and the Roman swimming pool. Close to the quarry there is the small church from which you can take in a picturesque view of Salina, Alicudi, and Filicudi.

Blue Birds Over. Pomice is a porous volcanic rock that is predominant on Lipari. It forms expanses of white cliff from which characteristic piers stretch out into the sea. From here, the rock is transported onto large cargo ships and is taken around the world. The Spiaggie Bianche (White beach) is known to be one of Lipari’s most beautiful. It takes its name from the colour of the seabed, caused by deposits of pumice sediment falling into the sea over the years.


View also Caolino quarries video  and Trips by sea video

The so called illusion of CGI has always left me unconvinced and unperplexed, and I am increasingly drawn to early special effects. The naivete and transparency of cheap editing tricks – of the blurred vaseline edge and kaleidoscopic montage sort – though naff and crude, allows a loose suspension of disbelief while providing me with the knowledge that as an aspiring moving image artist I too could easily create a similar effect if I desired.

Being obsessed with the photography of French artists Pierre et Gilles – who give new life to overexposed narratives with a highly concentrated dose of camp, artifice and glitter to create ‘too real to be real’ visual feasts – I had become increasingly frustrated within my practice by trying to create imagery similarly ‘perfect’.  As a financially unstable art student – working primarily with installation rather than still image – reality always interfered with the illusion. However, upon finding some video work by the duo, I breathed a sigh of relief along with the realisation that in fact poor technical ability and lack of funds were no obstacle in the creation of the hyper-real, and that the makeshift quality of imagery not only adds to the surreality but also abounds in humour.

Mikado – La Fille Du Soleil by (produced by Pierre et Gilles)

Helena Noguerra (produced by Pierre et Gilles)

While Pierre et Gilles adopted the cheap visual effects and crude editing tricks with their tongues firmly set in cheek, their predecessor and idol, James Bidgood, did so out of necessity due to lack of funds. The American artist, who became famous in the 1970’s for his homoerotic photography, is now best known for his films Pink Narcissus and Water Colors, which have become cult classics.

       James Bidgood – Still from Water Colors

Necessity was the mother of invention for Bidgood, who created the elaborate tableaux for his films in his cramped New York apartment, using cheap and often scavenged materials to create his inventive visual effects. In the production of Water Colors, his underwater epic, club dancer Jay Garvin was covered in glitter, sequins and oil in order to cause a light effect upon the silver lame backdrop – thus an underwater illusion (which is surprisingly effective all things considered)!

Upon watching Piero Cicala’s – IO TE E IL MARE video on youtube and reading the 10 Turbo Movie Rules provided by Alterazioni Video, I realised that this was my golden opportunity to dabble in the naff moving image; the idea of going one step further into the realms of the naff and to attempt to create the post-production editing tricks during filming overflows with possibilities. Cliched imagery from my internal archive of Eurotrash also keeps springing to mind, and considering the notion of scavenging, I am intrigued to see what fabulous trash the island of Lipari has to offer; let the hunt begin.I will, however, be cheating a little by packing an inflatable flamingo or ten in my luggage!

IO TE E IL MARE is excited about our newest collaborator Chien-Ni Hung. Chien-Ni is used to breaking rules and will work with us to interpret Alterazioni Video’s Turbo movie instructions.

Chien-Ni’s 2009 work Emgod sought to reframe an existing system founded by the Dogme 95 movement:

“The Dogme 95 movement was first founded in Copenhagen in 1995 by a group of Danish filmmakers, among which Lars Von Trier. Dogme 95 is a movement whose aim was go against big productions and conventional cinemas and also to promote and extend smaller productions and home-made videos.

My interest in the project lies in the fact that Dogme as a movement does not only convey the rebellious notion against a system that exists prior to their way of filmmaking, it goes further to apply a set of rules that forced its work to deliver a unique quality and style. I am fascinated by how a film can alter so dramatically from adopting a set of rules in its own process of making. Emgod is an experiment trying to locate a possible outcome being freed from Dogme, in other words going back to the infinite options in cinematic traditions. Because of how specific the rules were laid out in Dogme, reversing the rules of Dogme does not necessarily, I believe, bring us back to the conventions of filmmaking but rather to something else that can perhaps be called a different movement in its own right. I also believe, or at least imagine, like Dogme can create a powerful impact on people’s viewing experience, Emgod can do the same by applying not only the reverse but also the very specific of Dogme rules which were carefully selected and drawn from its infinite possibilities.

To begin this experiment I took the last ten minutes of The Idiots by Lars von Trier, which is also the second Dogme film and made a scene-by-scene remake of the original using the inverse rules.”

Chien-Ni Hung

IO TE E IL MARE will form a horizontal process of shoe-string filmmaking where relationships and bargaining are crucial. Here the 10 Turbo Movie roles provided by Alterazioni Video.

1. The first rule is that there are no rules. An horizontal and participative cinematic experience. Turbo Films are supposed to be the meeting point where hustlers turn into filmmakers and vice versa. The goal is for the viewers, as soon as the screening is over, to either go out and shoot a movie on their own or for them to try to raise funds for your next one…

2. Make your weakness become your strength. No money. Or at least very small amount. Turbo movies need to be a transversal practice originating from the . The financial aspect is of course very important, as it shapes the movie itself. Creative solutions are often defined by necessity.

3. Use what you have… It is more than enough. In Turbo Films it is better to use small cameras which allow you to create achieve unique angles and movements that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with an ordinary filmic set up. Adapt your aesthetics and learn from the technology at your disposal. Learn how to do post production special effects from “How to” videos on you tube.

4. Shoot, Edit, shit and shoot again. Turbo Films undue the efficient, linear logic of pre production/production/post production, elaborating instead a system whereby multiple films, activities and relationships can and will be improvised. A “production of production” constantly multiplying the very conditions and possibilities of film. Film as a mean without an end.

5. Writing is a dreadful practice. Turbo movies. Require no scripts. At least no proper ones.  The story is a seed from which the movie will grow and adapt itself. The creative process becomes part of the film, the film becomes part of the creative process.

6. Keep Your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. Casting is a key element in Turbo Films. Invite charismatic authors, artists, performers, musicians and ordinary people to star in the movie. Make sure some are locals, don’t be too picky as in some cases you might even wonder if some of your leading characters are human. It’s okay. Shoot, weather you’re holding a camera or a gun (if you have one). We’re talking about a full on performance, around which the film will develop and mutate. Eventually reality and fiction will merge into a disorientating but at the same time spot on and deadly mix.

7. The location is half of the job: make sure you pick the right one. The location will inspire you, it will spit on your script (if you ever had one in the first place) and make you write one anew. It will provide you with new actors and points of view, also the better the location the less props you’ll need. Let the location act itself out. Let it scream, let it whisper you its secrets.  The location is the true protagonist, the star, the actors are just extras…

8. Play it yourself. Music is another key element in turbo-cinematography. It’s pretty much the jolt of electricity that brings instant life to your Frankenstein.  In order to avoid royalties and lawsuits, but also to give your cinematic monster a special kick, find or form a temporary (better if local) Rock and Roll band that will write, compose and play your live music while you’re shooting. Music will take on the role of a story teller, a cooler substitute of a voice over, leading the viewer throughout the whole turbo experience.

9. Always mark your territory, stray dogs do it. Readapt to survive. Change format or movie length accordingly to the context in which the screenings will take place. Each context might require a different editing  and format. Let the movie grow. Resell different director’s cuts to different markets. Create limited editions, develop works of art from the movie props,  archive still frames and drawings. Make money for the next Turbo movie. Set up a distribution economy  within the web-video culture world.

10. You’re not an artist nor an intellectual, you’re guerrilla. Once you reach the country you’ll be shooting the movie in, remember that you must be cunning as James Bond, but ready for action like Carlos.  You don’t always need a permit to shoot a scene. Most of all you need balls, and a heart to pump blood in them. You have to be ready to climb over fences and be chased by security, yet you should always look smart and carry real or bogus credentials. Never stop filming. Bring your scenes home, at all costs and by all means.