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The Sound of Dante

Sound diptych, 2021

curated by Chiara Bertola                                                                                                                              

idea and project Mariateresa Sartori

direction Mariateresa Sartori

assistant director Armand Deladoey

musical composition Queste parole di colore oscuro by Paolo Marzocchi

The third canto of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno is at the centre of an experimental operation. To emphasise the intrinsic musicality of the Divine Comedy, Dante’s verses are stripped of their meaning, while syntax, metrics and rhyme remain unchanged. The result is something utterly incomprehensible but absurdly familiar. The actors recite the song as if it had its original meaning, inviting us to abandon ourselves to a purely rhythmic-melodic listening of the song. The reading by the actors is followed by Paolo Marzocchi’s piece ‘Queste parole di colore oscuro’ (These words of dark colour), which translates Dante’s text into purely musical terms on the basis of the prosody of the revised chant. The actors were always the same, while the musicians and conductors changed according to the location.


 the actors from the left: Savino Liuzzi, Gustavo Frigerio, Elettra de Salvo, Pase Platform, Venezia, 2021


link to the video  Backstage de Il suono di Dante


                                                                                                                                      Paolo Marzocchi

LINK TO THE MUSICAL COMPOSITION: Queste parole di colore oscuro 


from the left: Elettra de Salvo, Gustavo Frigerio, Armand Deladoey, Savino Liuzzi



BERLINO, court of the Italian Embassy, Italian Institute of Culture of Berlin,  25th August, 2021, photos by Dario Jacopo Laganà 


Musicians: Ruth Velten (Saxophon), Zoé Cartier (Violoncello), Sabrina Ma (percussions), director: Arno Waschk






















VENEZIA, FONDAZIONE QUERINI STAMPALIA, 28th  September 2021, photos by Katarina Rothfijel  

 gli attori Elettra de Salvo, Gustavo Frigerio, Savino Liuzzi










Musicisti: Paolo Bertoldo (percussioni), Massimiliano Donninelli (sassofono), Carlo Teodoro (violoncello), Direttore: Fabio Sperandio
























MOSCOW, ELECTRO STANISLAWSKIJ THEATRE, with the Italian Institute of Culture of Moscow, 23rd, 24th October 2021,

photos by Maria Emelianova 







Musicians: Arkadij Pikunov, saxophon, Aleksandra Kobrina, violoncello, Andrej Nikitin e Matrëna Sokolova, percussions

Director: Mary Čeminava

artistic director of the ensemble:  Vladimir Tarnopol’ski






Venice, 2021


The Sound of Dante2022-02-28T10:13:01+00:00

Sassi/Stones. Reading the rock


Sassi/Stones. Reading the rock Palazzetto Tito, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, marzo 2016

Palazzetto Tito, Bevilacqua La Masa, Venezia, 2016, Photos by  Francesco Allegretto and  Claudia Rossini 





A project in collaboration with the quarry EGAP of Stefano Pasinato, situated in Rosà, Vicenza
This project is the result of the Alchimie culturali initiative, which sees Confindustria veneto and the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa di Venezia working together to create new synergies between the business word and the art word.
A project in collaboration with the quarry EGAP of Stefano Pasinato, situated in Rosà, Vicenza
This project is the result of the Alchimie culturali initiative, which sees Confindustria veneto and the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa di Venezia working together to create new synergies between the business word and the art word.
While visiting Stefano Pasinato EGAP quarry I immediately understood that that place was my place and that, thanks to his curiosity and openness , Stefano Pasinato was a person I could really have a conversation with and who I could work with.
Influenced by his words I became interested in 2 main aspects that characterize the work of the operators of the company: the transformation of matter and the void of the quarry: After having catalogued all the stones and sand samples collected in the quarry I recorded the surface of the stones with the frottage technique, highlighting their infinite variety. With the same technique, the different distribution of the sands has been recorded, caused by their different shape and weight, within a suitable container. In another cycle of the work, the layer of clay of each individual sample draws on the sheet the shape of the pebble (which is in fact absent), emphasizing the close relationship between empty and full. Animated by a scientific, classifier spirit, Stefano Pasinato and I felt the need to secure the cooperation of geologists Andrea marzoli and Giancarlo rampazzo for the creation of an art/science book, where it becomes evident that the desire for the knowledge is the basis of these two different views of the world. The connection is so strong that, in the book, the artist’s drawings are read by geologists as exhibits, while in the geology laboratory of the University of Padua, with an optical microscope, Andrea Marzoli took pictures of thin slices of stones that were then reworked by the artist (without changing their veracity) to highlight the graphic configuration determined by the distribution of the elements.
The Utility of Futile Ends by Angela Vettese 


Mariateresa Sartori’s investigations have always involved hybrid themes, aimed at connecting the language of art with that of science or education, or at least of cognitive practices. Her means are images or sounds, created and treated in a variety of ways, but which are always the result of an activity which proposes them as an intermediate rather than final moment. Furthermore, the work does not identify with them, but rather with the cognitive process of which it becomes a sign.
In the case of her work at the working gravel quarry, the artist has taken different samples and used them with a rigour which smacks of scientific archiving. However, the rigorousness of the method has no purpose other than to observe the non-functional characteristics of the samples taken.
The substance was treated as something about which precise questions could be asked, even without a cogent objective. From a certain point of view, a system was used which retraces the phenomenon of serendipity, so important for knowledge in all fields: when searching for one thing you find another, or you hope that one day you can find a useful result even where nothing relevant was found.
For the moment, the artist’s intense activity accepts having been incredibly zealous in researching the useless, but the logic which supports the reasoning as absurd is substantiated in this. What remains of the artistic basis is the freedom to concede to the useless, to plumb the real which is not immediately correlated to a need.
Like rock, gravel comes in different thicknesses. In fact, all rocks contain stratifications of gravel and dust which have solidified over time, but which bear traces of time in the visible levels of the various sedimentary phases. The artist has highlighted the different internal structures of numerous stones, showing us their differences: what is deposited on the paper is a sort of X-ray of the substance and its genesis. The drawing, as simple as a pencil monochrome can be, adopts the same concise essence of some scientific illustrations, to the extent that in some cases the educational caption becomes a graphic element of the work, thus making it a scientific tool. The image is the result of the precise way it was conceived, following an iron rule the artist has imposed on herself. But this rigidness has no purpose and is the result of random decisions.
The different types of result have been divided into categories: thus we have Frottages on normal paper; Evaluation of the Fine Dust are the images obtained from spreading glue onto paper made of very smooth stone, on which the dust coming from the stone is applied with a brush. This is deposited randomly onto the surface, which has previously been uniformly covered in glue; Distribution of the Sands is a series consisting of sheets conceived as follows: the artist scatters a small amount of sand in a box and the grains are arranged according to their various weights and calibres, she then rests a sheet on the box after having lowered the edges and obtains the result; Thin Sections are the enlargements of a portion of stone in three different phases: the artist selects them, and a geologist from the University of Padua, Andrea Marzoli, takes the enlargements in a fertile partnership which has garnered interest and admiration even among observers with a naturalistic background.
The result can be exhibited in various ways: with the thoroughness of the librarian or biologist who puts their results in order, or following purely aesthetic and dimensional criteria as in a picture gallery – vertically for the drawings, or horizontally for the objects displayed in showcases.
What does all this mean? In the patterns which derive from the work – sheets of paper in different whites coloured with different greys – unexpected stimuli for reflection are discovered: the long temporality of the substance, and the fact that it moves and settles, shows us that its organisational criteria are not life, but seem to precede it as though there were not a discontinuity, but actually many levels in a continuum somewhere between the realm of the inert and the realm of life which can reproduce; once again it is impossible not to see the constant interrelation between rules and exceptions, the coming and going between regulations and contingent factors, the inevitable intersecting of that which a medieval philosopher would have defined chance and substance.
Central to all this is the ancient desire, which today has been revitalised, to make artistic observation, which is translated into visual manifestations, interact with scientific observation, which is frequently described using mathematical syntheses or verbal descriptions, in a tandem which has an illustrious past and which we thought was at a dead end. It is now breathing again, in an age when every branch of learning tends to communicate via images.
Yet behind these considerations we can glimpse two other significant and perhaps founding components of the work: human action can also not have a telos or tend towards a result. Its validity lies in the flow it manages to generate and in being in itself simply flow and activity. There is no need for everything to be finalised. Perhaps what is of the most importance for the artist is the very structure of life in its highest components – perception, research, study, the construction of memory – despite knowing that it might be pointless.
These themes were at the centre of at least two of the artist’s previous works, two cycles of drawing obtained using a computer. In both cases a computer was used in an acritical way, recording as faithfully as possible the data emerging from the observation. Applying a transparent sheet above the monitor, she followed with a marker pen the movement of every single pedestrian (in All people going) and the gaze of every single artist in a group of people while they were drawing (in 1 Minute and 15 seconds of Drawers’Gaze). Despite a rudimental and approximate procedure, the traces are quite faithful to the facts. The movements are recorded with all the capability permitted by human perceptive faculties: they are imperfect but are calibrated by nature according to how much they are necessary in order to live in the world. As in the work on the quarry, Mariateresa Sartori does not invent anything and simply takes into account the situation as it presented to us, to our senses and to our way of cataloguing it, becoming herself a sensitive measuring tool of the real. She concedes nothing to her personal inventive faculty or to her emotional one, with the aim – which is at the basis of all empirical but not irrational science – of observing what happened and knowing that things happened just like this or pretty much like this, even if everything could have happened differently. The variations are infinite, but not all the variations are possible. As Leonardo da Vinci wrote in a sentence dear to Mariateresa Sartori: “Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience”. Even in the case of the Frottages and in the series Distribution of the Sand the artist becomes a recording device to register the variations – those and not others – which were made concrete in the stones by chance and by necessity. In trying to constantly exercise the same pressure with the graphite pencil and trying to annul, where possible, any interpretive inclination, the hand tries to transform itself into a machine purified of interior movements. The drawing thus aims to offer a given fact as much as possible, and that “as much as possible” reflects all the human effort made to keep scientific images pure and, more generally, to keep the knowledge destined to be shared, free from personal frames of mind and uncontrolled movements. But to what end?
The artist does not want to invent anything and intentionally hides her ego. She portrays analytical aloofness but also the awareness that we are subjects and participate in seeing how everyone makes an enormous effort to abstract themselves from themselves and of embarking on a mature relationship with the world which is neither infantile nor egocentric. Overcoming our individual exigencies and the notion that everything revolves around us is probably the biggest struggle to overcome in order to move on from an infantile state to an adult one, and is therefore a process which must be honoured. In this process, not only do we stop being the fulcrum of everything, but we discover that the existence of everything – of humans, of stones, of science, of art, etc. – happens without purpose. This is hard to accept. We want to have a purpose as it would help us and make us feel less abandoned. However, the practice, the doing and the knowledge that derive from this discovery are the best way of reacting to the absence of final causes, they are our best consolation and thus, in themselves, are also our possible purpose and one of the reasons for our self-education.

read the book Arte/scienza, 80 pg, 7MB





Sassi/Stones. Reading the rock2017-02-19T17:26:37+00:00