Picnic Affair, a triannual boutique celebration of music, arts, and joie de vivre organised by the Italian cardiologist Jacopo Pizzicannella, brings a selection of musical and fine-artists to beautiful venues on the Italian coast. Curated by the London-based curator Maria Abramenko, this year Picnic Affair featured a site-specific sound installation by Ben Cullen Williams & Gaika, a performance by Nicolas Denino, a graffiti piece by Andrea Ravo Mattoni and an ambiental installation by Massimo Uberti in collaboration with Hypermaremma curated by Carlo Pratis.
This is Abramenko’s third collaboration with Picnic Affair, after presenting amazing performances by Agnes Questionmark and Emiliano Maggi and a piece by Edoardo Dionea Cicconi in Favignana last summer, and an exhibition of Jonathan Vivacqua in Milano this winter. An RCA graduate, Abramenko focuses on installation, digital and sound art, working mostly with musicians, composers and video artists. She previously curated the Palermo Art Weekend and some parts of Manifesta 12 and collaborated in the two last editions of the Venice Biennale.
After a beautiful boat trip and dinner around Ortigia on the first evening of the festival, the second day started off with a panel discussion curated by Leonardo Caffo and Micol Teora, the first one in a series of, sadly unsuccessful, public discussions meant to analyse Picnic Affair’s inner workings and form a theoretical framework for its future.
Ben Cullen Williams is a British artist, whose practice consists of sculptures, installations, photography and video. In his work, Williams explores humankind’s relationship to the world in a rapidly changing environment; he focuses on the intersection between space, technology and landscape. Accompanied by Gaika, a self-described ‘hard-to-place person’, an enigmatic multidisciplinary artist mostly working with sound, the two artists built a site-specific installation off the coast of the resort. The floating artwork resembles a diy refugee raft at first glance – four plastic barrels act as a base for a stage truss construction, on which a series of lights and speakers is mounted – and the life raft slowly changes into a stage. This alien object in the clear night sea can be understood as a leftover from a disaster, a beacon or a lighthouse to warn from dangers, or a stage for a musical-and-light performance. The construction serves as a venue for Gaika’s hour-long musical piece that is accompanied by light design of Williams. Working in sync with the sea, while not forgetting the current political landscape, Williams and Gaika created a subtle, but powerful artwork breaking the artificial reality of the five star resort surrounding it.
In the next few days, the festival continued into a series of parties with renowned musical artists and amazing food, mixing the Sicilian cultural experience with the perks of international contemporariness. Under the scorching sun, new relationships and memories were formed, while the Trans-romantic Republic was alive for a while once again.
Picnic Affair / Nasty Goes To Brucoli
Artist: Ben Cullen Williams / @bencullenwilliams Gaika / @gaikasees Massimo Uberti / @massimoubertistudio Nicolas Denino / @nicolasdenino Andrea Ravo Mattoni / @andrea_ravo_mattoni
Curator: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko Carlo Pratis / @non_farlo
Photographer: Benedetto Tarantino / @benedettotarantino
Assistant: Alisia Marcacci / @miabrowe
Venue: PicNic Affair / @picnic_affairr