Maria Thereza Alves, untitled, 2014. Photo (inkjet print on paper), 60 x 45 cm. Courtesy the artist.


NERO is pleased to announce the two-week workshop Histories Hidden in Plain Sight with Maria Thereza Alves, Iain Chambers, and Lidia Curti at Istituto Svizzero di Roma and various other locations around the city as part of its transdisciplinary program Studio Roma 2014/2015.

Critical thought has learnt from art, literature, and cinema the importance of employing a close-up gaze as well as a look from afar. This is where the routes of History and histories intersect inexorably.

The scope of this workshop is to explore the shifting and ambiguous zones that constitute borders – both the physical and immaterial confines that signal transit between different territories of understanding and belonging. Borders, however flexible and shifting they turn out to be in the modern world, are ultimately sites of authority, whether these are between Europe and the extra-European world, or between disciplines and their claims on understanding. Borders seek to contain and separate, to define and direct, from global population flows to the micro bio-politics of racial and gender difference. At the same time, as we know so well, they are constantly being traversed and betrayed by the continual passage of bodies, histories, cultures, languages and knowledges that refuse to remain fixed and respect their rules and requirements. This refusal opens up a paradoxical tension within modernity. On one hand there is the drive and desire to render all transparent to a single will in order to better control and exploit, both in economical and epistemological terms; on the other hand, modernity, in its very formation and fashioning is mobile and migrant. Always intent on the new, modernity necessarily refuses stasis.

Histories Hidden in Plain Sight explores these tensions and frictions – in both ethical and aesthetical terms – seeing how they can open up unexpected spaces and possibilities, both in critical and artistic work. The understanding of such spaces, let us call them heterotopic, for they already exist even if they are not yet registered nor recognised, returns us to considering the construction of the contemporary as a unilateral representation of reality. Digging into this construction, transforming it into a building site, means to re-open the languages that have tended to obfuscate an altogether more messy and inconclusive rendering of the present.

Over the duration of the two-week workshop, the artist Maria Thereza Alves, together with the fellows of Istituto Svizzero di Roma and participants from many European cities, will look closely at flora in Rome. Before one of its renovations, the Colosseum had been a heaven for plants that arrived via people and animals. The 19th century botanist, Elisabetta Fiorini Mazzanti has listed 272 species. How have these plants arrived in Rome? What are the non-indigenous plants? What non-indigenous plants have become so ubiquitous as to be perceived as native? Where do the ingredients of Roman dishes come from originally?
These are some of the questions that will be raised in the different formats of Botanical Evidences of Movement, Migration and Commerce. In an attempt to understand the way of observing and redefining the Roman landscape departing from official narrations and from other potential stories. The participants will present to public the “clues” found and made during the days of the workshop.

Gender, race, nation, citizenship, 
the Mediterranean, the border, the necessity for counter-archives and the means of memory will be some of the themes scholars Iain Chambers and Lidia Curti will deal with in Borderscapes: Migration and the Hybridisation of Space and Time. Historians, sociologists, directors, activists, musicians, and workers from museums, educational and cultural institutions have been invited to contribute.

Studio Roma 2014/2015 is a transdisciplinary program on the contemporary by Istituto Svizzero di Roma, which offers twelve bursaries to artists and scientific researchers. The workshop, alongside the ISR fellows in residence at Villa Maraini, welcomes selected participants from an institutional network including:

Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris
Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg
Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst FHNW (Basel)
Kungl. Konsthögskolan (Stockholm)
Kunstakademiet i Trondheim – KIT
Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi (Istanbul)
Piet Zwart Institute (Rotterdam)
Universität der Künste Berlin

Istituto Svizzero di Roma – Via Ludovisi 48, Rome
and various locations around the city
16 February – March 1 2015