Uno specchio per cinque (A mirror for five)

July 23, 2018


Lu Cafausu

Lu Cafausu is a collaborative art project initiated by Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese, and Cesare Pietroiusti in 2006, then joined by Luigi Presicce in 2010. Lu Cafausu, an old coffeehouse located in a small town in the south of Italy, has become the inspiration for stories, performances and actions in different European and American cities.

Uno specchio per cinque (A mirror for five) is the title of a series of five episodes of a story conceived and written by the artist group Lu Cafausu as if it were the script of a film for which the five members are the collective director.

Each episode’s narrative is based on the themes of Lu Cafausu’s research: reflections on death, the relationship between the living and the soil, experimental art education, and the paradoxical nature of ordinary daily life.  The starting point of the film is an attempt by the five artists to observe their own practice and life.

In the first episode, they tell the story of how Lu Cafausu was invited to Zurich to lead the opening celebration of the Dada Centennial at the legendary Cabaret Voltaire. During the event, Lu Cafausu invited non-professional actors to participate in a performance game where they enacted the personal obsessions of the five group members, using the camera as a mirror.

Giancarlo Norese, Art is everywhere, 2008. Photo by Luigi Negro

Giancarlo Norese, Art is everywhere, 2008.
Photo by Luigi Negro


Episode 1: Uno specchio per cinque (A mirror for five)

In the crypt of Cabaret Voltaire, a set will be built with the aim of shooting the first scene of a film. In this scene five non-professional actors will be invited to enact the personal obsessions of the five members of “Lu Cafausu” who will take the role of directors. The audience will be very close to the action and, at times, inevitably become part of it. Through this film, the five artists will be confronted with their own selves, their mirrored images, and their contradictions.

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Episode 2: Anna Vaniglia

Anna Vaniglia began talking on the threshold of a public restroom, at the intersection of three completely empty corridors. The timbre of her voice was tight, muffled, punctuated by coughs and the sickening odor of her sweat. The monologue cloned itself, bouncing off the ceiling in a subtle multitude of echoes. I shut the door (it seemed to be made of cardboard) leaving her outside. The restroom stank of ammonia. Her words slid in through the gaps in the doorframe. The sound filled up every space.

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Episode 3a: The Screen Will Be White

Phrases shift by on the lower part of the screen, which might seem like subtitles at first glance; actually they are phrases written in pencil, with a nervous hand, like notes hastily jotted down. After a while it becomes clear that these strange subtitles have nothing to do with the off-screen dialogue; they are clearly not its transcription, nor are they its translation into another language.

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Episode 3b: The Screen Will Be White

“I have always created and used submissive sexual fantasies – M will keep talking, seeming somewhat reassured – in solitude, but at the same time I have always thought that the possibility of sharing them with someone else might be liberating, unburdening. The fact that you have shown me my own phantoms as a production independent of myself made me feel as if a new way of working them out without being overwhelmed had become available to me: to witness them from the outside, together with you, on a par with you. In short, to make a film together.”

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Episode 4: The resurrection of the wizards

Lots of strange people, in worn-out overalls and t-shirts, wander along the tree-lined lanes around the hospital. Some wear slippers, others sneakers, some are wrapped in bathrobes. No one is dressed up like Napoleon. Almost all the strollers have some-yellowed fingers. (Now and then shouting is heard.)

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Episode 5: Battle

The armor is so heavy that to tie his shoes the knight has to press his head against the wall, to keep from toppling over. There’s no time. The horse is thinking about making a break for it as dense smoke rises all around. Before the horse can stir its limbs and gallop away, the knight grabs the reins, sticks the untied shoe in the stirrup and pushes down to dash forward.

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