If you are in Florence or planning a short trip, there is an exhibition definitely worth a visit: Schengen with artists Délio Jasse, Anna Raimondo, Jebila Okongwu.
Only few days left as the three-part exhibition, which opened to the public on July 12th, will close this coming Friday at Villa Romana.
exhibition view, Jebila Okongwu, Banana Sculpture No. 23, 2016, bronze (on the left),
Délio Jasse,
 Schengen, 2010, digital print on alu-dibond (on the right).
"Schengen examines the limitations of socio-cultural and political borders through a totemic memorialization of the migration of bodies and goods. Drawing upon transnational identity and the blue water of the Mediterranean as fluid conceptions of legality and humanity the works problematize the values instilled by international agreements whose fallen fruits too often die on the vine. The destabilizing of the environmental impact of fading traditions, the evasion of prescribed images of nationalistic belonging and the escalation of global crisis set the foundation for ruptured canons and displaced cultural legibility".

When I first read the press preview, I realised that the artists involved where looking for answers to the same questions we are dealing with nearly every day. Especially nowadays in Italy where the migration from the Mediterranean sea, and not only, apparently became for the Government the root of all evil; the fundamental priority became to send home all the "illegals".

The Schengen convention, dated 1990, is an economic agreement between 26 states, the Schengen Area, that operates like a single state where internal borders checks have been abolished. Unfortunately following the migration crisis, some of the countries have reintroduced border controls. 
exhibition view, Anna Raimondo, Mediterraneo, 2014, 22’00”, HD video 16/9
Three artists from different history and background are meeting here with their vision and research.
I know and admire Jebila Okongwu's work. It seems to me one of the most interesting voices in Rome with an international afflatus. Jebila was born in London, he spent part of his childhood in Nigeria, then moved to Australia, New York and Rome, where is now based. The artist is often questioning racial and cultural stereotypes. His recurrent marks are bananas and banana's boxes.
Those "innocent" boxes, shipped from Africa and the Caribbean to western countries, are retracing the old slavery routes and, doing so, recalling patterns of trade, migration and exploitation.
Exhibition view, Anna RaimondoNel Dubbio, 2016, 09’21”, HD Video 16/9 (on the right),
Jebila Okongwu, 
Africa’s Finest Banana, 2018 and Alba, 2018, digital prints on forex (on the left)
Délio Jasse was born and raised in Luanda, Angola, moved to Portugal when he was 18 and now lives between Milan and Lisbon. His first job in Portugal was in serigraphy studios where he had the chance to learn all the different techniques that appear now in his artwork. His artistic research pushes him to explore the links between past and present, memories, his personal heritage and different printing techniques mixing analogue and digital processes.
Schengen is actually the title of one of his projects showing black and white pictures of immigrants with stamps and signature documenting their passage.
Jasse's work is also included in the group exhibition African Metropolis that opened last June at Maxxi Museum in Rome.
exhibition view, Delio Jasse, Schengen, 2010, digital print on alu-dibond and The place to be, 2015, silkscreen collage and photographic emulsion on wood box
Anna Raimondo, originally from Naples, Italy, studied in Bologna, moved to Madrid - where she created a radio programme on music and contemporary art - and to London where she obtained a Master degree at the London College of Communication. She is  based in Bruxelles and works internationally. She lives a nomadic life and languages, and their relationships, became part of her personal research. She is a performance and sound artist exploring the differences and multiples identities she encounters every day in her artist journey pushing down the boundaries between them.
These artists are what we call "cittadini del mondo", with their life stories and artistic research are encouraging the viewer to encounter the "other". They are also giving an important contribution to break down those barriers that are not only a virtual line between countries.

photos courtesy: Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

Délio Jasse, Anna Raimondo, Jebila Okongwu
Villa Romana
12  luglio - 24 agosto 2018

Via Senese 68
50124 Florence
Tel.: +39 - 055 - 22 16 54
Fax: +39 - 055 - 22 80 251


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