“Soltanto 4 al massimo” at Villa Massimo, German Academy in Rome

Nico Vascellari, Bozza per Chiaro Oscuro, 2018


Tomorrow February 14th, from 7 to 12 pm, Villa Massimo German Academy in Rome hosts the opening event of the exhibition Soltanto 4 al massimo with Thomas Baldischwyler, Nico Vascellari, Alvin Curran and Dj-Nina, which will be on view until 28 February 2018.

The starting point for the event Soltanto 4 al massimo, conceived and implemented by Thomas Baldischwyler, visual artist and currently resident fellow at Villa Massimo, is the exhibition series Soltanto un quadro al Massimo, designed by the German Academy Director Joachim Blüher and by Ludovico Pratesi. For ten years, from 2003 to 2013, these exhibitions have compared an Italian artist and a German artist. Baldischwyler expands the minimalism of the original project with two new additions: sound and historical commentary.

“I am so happy to see that our exhibition series is back to life in such an unusual way” states Joachim Blüher.

During the evening, Thomas Baldischwyler and Nico Vascellari will play a live arrangement of the vinyl album Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri by Alvin Curran of 1978. While Alvin Curran himself will perform an improvised accompaniment in the second part of the evening with a midi-keyboard, the set of the Hamburg ambient-dj Nina. The performance will be broadcasted live via webcams in the renowned Pudel Club in Hamburg. Three original pieces of work by Nico Vascellari, and three by Thomas Baldischwyler will be presented together with the original drawing by Edith Schloss featured on the cover of the vinyl album Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri.

On the occasion of the exhibition, we are pleased to publish a letter Thomas Baldischwyler sent to composer Alvin Curran, which the project originated from.


Dear Alvin!

I already talked to Maxime and announced this letter.
He told me that you are on tour until Wednesday.
I hope this finds you well!

The motivation to talk to you was a different one in the beginning:
For me, it was an unexpected offer to get pieces of information
about Andreas Baader as a dope-selling bum in Rome in 1969.
I was (and am) really looking forward to this. While waiting for the
right moment to get in contact with you (and thanks to Maxime’s
Facebook-Posts) I got more and more into your music – and fell
especially in love with your LP Fiori Chiari / Fiori Oscuri (and Edith
Schloss’ painting on the cover) from 1978.

While listening to the record so many doors opened. I had to think of
the difference between the RAF in the German Herbst 1977 and the
Italian movement of the Indiani Metropolitani which happened nearly
at the same time. And all the hopeful metaphors which were carried
by the vocal cameo-appearances of the children (Spaceship, Trojan
wars etc pp) although the Longplayer was produced in the middle of
the Italian politics of tension. 

At the same time, I had the idea to revive a tradition of Villa Massimo
which ceased to exist in 2013 – a Tedesco-Italiano 2 artist show in the
gallery of the Villa. I was talking about this to the person who is
responsible for artist care and she suggested a collaboration with
Nico Vascellari. I really liked the idea because in parts our artistic
practice is quite similar. We both come out of self-organization. Nico
with his performance spot Codalunga near Venice and me with my
work in the Hamburg “deranged culture” center Golden Pudel Club
and certain other artist’ run spaces. We both have music labels but
use to be visual artists for a living (often).

After the first meeting with Nico I thought of a way how we could
work on ONE thing – Alter and modify a source material to have a
collaborative result which deals with the past and the present.
I was already experimenting with manipulated vinyls and forced lock
grooves. Making use of the fact that these locked grooves have a
constant speed of 180 / 90 bpm played with 45 rpm and that it is easy
to synchronize them with drum machines and midified synthesizers.

The source material which came to my mind would be your LP -
with the audio taken from the video which can be heard on YouTube.
I would master it roughly and friends of mine would transfer it – split
into four parts onto four singled-sided transparent acrylic dubplates
(13 minutes each). We would build up a set of 4 record-players, a drum
machine, a synthesizer and some recording devices at the gallery of
the Villa Massimo in the middle / the end of February 2018. We would
make a mechanic, analog live-remix at the Vernissage and the
recording of the performance would be played over the 2 weeks
the installation is on view.

What do you think of this concept? I am not so sure about the
copyright situation in this case. But it is really important for me
to get you general OK. And: I am afraid to ask … it would be
a dream if you would like to contribute something to this performance/
exhibition. For example: Is the original of the cover artwork by Edith
Schloss still existing after all this years. This would be too good to be
true - To have it on view …

Grazie per la musica and hopefully A PRESTO!

Really looking forward to hearing from you!


Thomas Baldischwyler was born in 1974 in Lage (Lippe), he lives in Hamburg. He studied at Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg also with Stephan Dillemuth. Awards and recognition: fellowship from Neue Kunst In Hamburg e. V., Förderpreis from Westfälischer Kunstverein Münster, residency scholarship from the Laurenz-Haus Foundation in Basel. He has a highly diversified work practice including the record label Travel By Goods founded in 2011. In 2017/18, he was resident fellow at Villa Massimo.


Thomas Baldischwyler, 2017
© Villa Massimo, Photo Alberto Novelli


Edith Schloss, Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri, Rome, 1976
Courtesy Alvin Curran


Thomas Baldischwyler, S.T., 2018


Soltanto 4 al massimo
Thomas Baldischwyler, Nico Vascellari, Alvin Curran and DJ-Nina
15–28 February 2018
Opening on 14 February 2018, 7–12 pm (free entrance until 10:30 pm)
8–9:30pm Nico Vascellari & Thomas Baldischwyler
9:30–11pm Alvin Curran & Nina

Villa Massimo German Academy | Largo di Villa Massimo 1-2, Rome
Opening Hours: Mon–Thurs, 9am–5:30pm; Fri 9am–2pm