Recently, Jatun Risba spent 4 days in Salento, the “heel” of the Italian “boot”, for a quick survey of the territory and its majestic material culture. Her first encounter with this land, its ancient folk traditions and its open, hospitable inhabitants, was extremely inspiring and rewarding. From September 2018 on, she will undertake an Artist in Residence program at STEAM Atelier in Lecce that will be divided into slots spread over a minimum of 12 months.The residency will allow Jatun to continue the field research about traditional possession rituals and passage rites, a study she had started in Ethiopia back in 2015, as well as to create and present new developments of her life-long Intermedia Art project MRI MS. My Resting In Myself Sane.
Before each new Art event, an open steam lab (promoted by STEAM Atelier & Fab Lab Lecce Knos) will be held, during which the basis of the technological know-how employed in the project will be openly shared and collectivized with the local community. This is how people attending the workshops will immediately become an active part of the project and its organization in a decentralized modality of work.
Salento is the land of the Taranta, the Dance of the Spider, an ancient dancing healing ritual. During her recent short stay in Apulia, Jatun spent almost two full days in Galatina, the birthplace of the phenomenon of Tarantism. To get an idea of what tarantism was about, here is the documentary La taranta produced by Gianfranco Mingozzi:
The recordings from the docu-film were made inside the Chapel of St Paul in Galatina, the place where the first manifestationts of taranta occurred. The narrative of taranta tells us that it is only San Paolo (the Saint depicted on the altar in the photo bellow), who can release the “tarantata” from the malady caused by the spider bite and it is to San Paolo that the victim appeals for release during her ritual dancing.
However, the material culture of our time offers us a much different milieu in which to operate and the remedies for establishing an empowering life within a healthy community, should differ drastically from the ones used in pre-industrial agricultural societies. But how and what for?