A constant feature of the Festival is that it has always been built around the relationship between creativity on stage and everyday, public spaces that are not set aside for the arts. This year it triggers off the vibration, fighting or dancing among two entities that are customarily regarded as rigidly separate from and impermeable to one another: reality, with its crystal-hard nature and obstinacy in presenting itself as untransformable, and fiction, with its galaxies of imaginary worlds, often reduced to the cramped space of disengagement or amusement, that is, distraction from the one thing that is important.
At Santarcangelo, reality, and fiction chase each other around in a complex yet elementary movement molded from the desires and impulses of many different forces, and the Festival expands like a liquid that fills and licks at various spaces in the city and the surrounding area, both central and peripheral, wonderful or repulsive, public or private, from the lovely caves to a small, rarely used playground, from a closed-down packaging systems factory to a high school gymnasium, from the roof of the Casa del Popolo, now a cinema and post office, to the renaissance fort, from the banks of the Marecchia to the point where Santarcangelo blurs into Rimini. This is not – at least not this time – simply a matter of turning commonplaces into theatres but of creating a space between places and artistic creations, a space in which both of the terms involved can follow its own «line of flight» (as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari put it), creating a relationship that is not consummated in dialogue between them but in their «a-parallel evolution» – a conversation between reality and fiction. Through many of the programmed works and the different, contrasting voices of artists who contend through their research into this space between – from Bouchra Ouizguen to Alessandro Sciarroni, Zachary Oberzan to Mara Oscar Cassiani... – the Festival invites us to immerse ourselves in art and fiction as though in a possibility that the real might become a turbulent disturbance, to think of art and imagination as an opportunity to extend the real and create a reality that at least momentarily includes the invisible, the impossible, the agency of the nonhuman, the infinitely small and infinitely large, extinct animals and the most distant galaxies, feelings we cannot name and the so-luminous abysses we contain.
The stubborn, inexhausted lesson of art is the possibility of continuing to begin, of placing ourselves in an eternal beginning that flees the law of repetition inasmuch as it can work in swerves, that betrays itself and measures itself with an unknowing way of doing.
Putting a festival together, living in it, attending it, going through it, these are all forms of this beginning, where the curator’s work is to schedule or suggest times. As their names suggest, the two works that are ideally suited to starting and closing the cycle of the Festival this year are La Nuit des taupes by Philippe Quesne and Natten by Mårten Spångberg, for Santarcangelo is the time of night, and hence of sleep and dreams.
Can we dream a dream with others? Can the theatre be a place where together with people we do not know we can yield to abandonment, wandering between sleep and dream? Starting from this and other questions, Philippe Quesne invites us to begin our descent into the underground abysses of a fantasy, non-human world, and Mårten Spångberg to never stop starting, immersing ourselves together in the indistinct, dark space of a dance that is a prelude to a new day. Set between these two nights, various presences have a nocturnal substance, a nightly way of moving about, from the azdoras led by Markus Öhrn and Stefania? Also Pedretti to the clubbing evoked by Michele Rizzo, from Cristina Kristal Rizzo’s prelude to Amir Reza Koohestani’s scene… The festival explores nocturnal forms of commonality with and proximity to others, the possibility of shelter from the pressures of visibility and accessibility that rule the day, the silent invitation to attempt other ways of knowing, other forms of presence to oneself, to others, to the world. One of these, perhaps the most powerful, is sleep, «an uncompromising interruption of the theft of time from us by capitalism» (Jonathan Crary), which produces no value, generates no form of communication or sociability, but instead conceals an inner world that is also mysterious to the one asleep and immerses individuals in the universality of an existence that transcends the human.
The experience of the spectator who moves into and between the two opposing maps of reality and fiction and immerses herself into the generous darkness of nights that herald new beginnings is intimate and at the same time impersonal, a ritual experience, if ritual be taken to mean an event marking a difference in nature between “before” and “after”, a ceremony with transformative power or an emancipating procedure that creates conditions of possibility. The ten days of the festival include many rites, from the lighting of the fire by Luigi De Angelis and Emanuele Wiltsch Barberio to the unleashing of night dances by Michele Rizzo, Motus, and Markus Öhrn, from the large, frightening collective labor by Zapruder filmmakers group and ZEUS! to the countdown by Strasse… Through these and other rites, Santarcangelo celebrates its own change and inaugurates a fantasy time where the one that will not be here can exist, L’oracolo Della corona: a labyrinth of crystals – nothing less than the roundabout at Luna Park – decorated with a huge, luminous crown placed in the middle of the square. At a given moment in the evening, this labyrinth, which during the day would continue its normal function as a roundabout, would turn into an oracle for a while, thanks to the intervention of artists, a different group every time, invited by Zapruder filmmakers group. It will turn into a place of mysterious divination, imbued with knowledge of the future, one that harks back to the profound nature of art, the only practice that immerses itself in the unknown, not to know it but to frequent its unfathomable darkness. L’oracolo Della corona will not be here, and its absence brings to center stage the hard nature of reality, the hard work, and stubbornness with which we try to make an idea possible, the need sometimes to yield to the most brutal form in which reality manifests itself, declaring a fact impossible. At this point it becomes an oracle without a crown, one we will hear in the piazza, an oracle that does not name the space in which it manifests itself, does not lead us into a labyrinth, but makes an entire city and its spaces, destabilized by the trembling from the stage, into a temple of its own. An oracle, a precise figure that speaks of the power of the artist’s word, as well as of the festival and the spectators who follow it and so leap into an adventure that knows no end.
Artistic Direction of Santarcangelo Festival