During his residence at atla(s)now, Alessandro Bulgini has actively worked with the Amazigh community of Imlil village, by further developing his relational project "OPERA VIVA".[ read more ]
Since 2011, Bulgini has been realizing ephemeral visual gestures – pictorial, sculptural and performing – on the street, with the aim of disseminating unfiltered artistic expression, as well as stimulating ordinary people to reclaim the places they belong, including their history and related culture.
Dressed in a red monochrome uniform, the artist becomes a visual bug, a mobile signal; therefore an anomaly in the landscape, a work of living art, which makes the object of art an relational place, both ideal and physical, to create dialogues with the public.
The visual interventions in a given scenario (social, urban, architectural, etc.), become, in fact, "pretexts" - as he defines them - to create a sincere relationship and exchange with those who live that scenario every day. Their ordinary routine, in turn, becomes - through the artist's interaction - an extraordinary experience.
At Atla(s)now, involving local carpenters, Alessandro Bulgini has specifically made ladders of various sizes, and decorated them to give to locals as a gift, including young Moustapha for its jewelry shop, brothers Mohamed and Said for their carpet shop, and finally young seamstresses of the local Thamghart Noudrarma association. Regarding the latter in particular, the artist has worked for two days with the tailors, asking them to freely cover his blue-painted ladder. The final result is a ladder, beautifully covered with textile and inserts of every kind, including wools, cottons, fabrics and embroidery.
Among the activities that Bulgini has developed during his stay, a particularly intense one consists of an ambitious decoration of the Kasbah Du Toubkal emergency staircase, suspended 20 meters above the ground. Like the others, even this one has been decorated with typical colors of Berber culture: the blue of the ocean, the brown of the earth, the red of the Moroccan flag, the green of nature and the yellow of the Sahara desert.
The same applies to the symbology. i.e., Bulgini uses typical signs of the same culture. Triangles facing in opposite direction vertically split in the middle by a line, whose swaying movement - according to carpet seller Said, during one of the chats that he has had with Bulgini - represents the ups and downs life.
The use of such common elements has made Bulgini's ladders spot-on for this area. They work as an extraordinary binding force between people. They are delicate and poetic passages, just as delicate and poetic as Bulgini’s own passage in the village.
The artist has chosen the ladders as a base for his research, because in this area they are a central part of the daily routine, representing the villages' ordinary life.
Large, small, made of wood, iron, and steel, some very well built, others, aren't. However, they all work properly as ladders.
You can see them spread out everywhere. Outside the shops, homes, restaurants, hotels, tearooms, as well as on the streets. Some of them can be found on plots of land whose terraces demand a continuous up and down; while others, in the middle of a path, are propped up against a tree, waiting for someone using them to collect the fruits on the top.
Although they are not conspicuous, the ladders occupy a crucial role in the life of these communities, so much so that Bulgini's interest in creating new ladders, or decorating existing ones, immediately caught the attention and sympathy of locals.
What Bulgini did in Imlil is reinforcing and strengthening the ladders' visual behavior by a process of decoration, that, while it allows them to be used as usual - as ladder - in the meantime it verticalizes their formal aspect, renews their visual range. Hence, Bulgini's ladders rise to a symbolic level, now able to tell a wider story, which goes beyond the ladders' specificity as simple functional objects, becoming representative symbols of an entire community and their identity.
At the conclusion of his residency, Alessandro Bulgini realized an Amazigh monument in the Asni village.
With the involvement of locals guys, Bulgini selected a series of Berber symbols to use as decoration of the four foundations of a high voltage electric tower facing a monument in the valley of Asni. In this work, Bulgini painted the foundation using the same blue color that he has regularly used as a base to decorate the other ladders over the course of his stay in the mountains.
The intersections of the steel tower creates many triangles merging with each other, geometries common in the Berber style of decoration. More than that, these forms seem to suggest the most important Amazigh symbol, whose shape is made by two symmetric arcs facing in opposite directions, vertically split in the middle by a straight line. The latter represents the "free man," victorious with his arms up.
The vertical line visually suggests the shape of a ladder, fixed on four foundations and projecting the big object toward the sky. Projected in such a way, now the tower is reinforced in its monumentality over the surrounding landscape, with the cold colors of its four foundations in visual contrast with the warm red ones of this marvelous valley.