14.04 / 14.05.2012

As a result of her recent research, Francesca Grilli will present Golden Age, a project focusing on gold considered as alchemical and esoteric element. Gold is incorruptible and close to perfection.
The golden age shows us aspects of opulence, prosperity and perfection. For this reason the ancient alchemists conducted experiments at the boundaries of magic. They distilled and mixed various substances in order to transform every other metal into gold. It was believed that gold had therapeutic effects and for this reason, in reproducing it, people would have found a cure for every disease, even immortality.
Gold was worn not to flaunt wealth, but to benefit from its spiritual and energetic power, through physical contact.

Golden Age consists in a gold-based meal prepared by the chefs of the restaurant and offered by the artist to the people especially invited for the performance. The artist is interested in the collective experience which arises through the digestion of the food as an essential moment in which gold is returned to the earth.
The work’s focus is the digestion intended as a process: commensal’s bodies become the medium for the alchemical transformation as the ancients believed it was possible.
The artist, after food has been transformed into gold, will donate it to the people who will puts their faith in her and in the artistic action in order to share a common experience towards the consumption of precious, almost sacred and apparently untouchable food.
The collective performance will be completed through photos taken with a special Polaroid Aura Cam 6000 which is normally used in order to capture people’s aura - which is the magnetic field that everybody emanates. They were taken in the residency period in Kunsthuis SYB in Beetsterzwaag where Francesca Grilli invited people to experiment the precious food.

In the recent performances of Francesca, people are the most important part. They define the artwork itself, through a common experience that will be transformed in a sort of ritual. In Golden Age, food consumption is the most important action, the ritual shared among the participants. In this work, as well as in the previous ones, everyday life is the main inspiration, modified by a minimal invisible action, which transforms reality into magic and something fabulous.

Text by Alessandra Saviotti

Francesca Grilli - The Golden Age

Francesca Grilli - The Golden Age


Over the last few years, I have worked extensively on linguistic metaphors and their suggestions.I have sought above all a different, completely dematerialized, level of communication, on the borderline between magic and incommunicability, and in pursuit of other levels of complexity and resonance. As in the portrait and visual and gestural dialogue with my beloved grandfather Giordano Bruno, staged as a game of bowls in the film Gordon (2007).
The challenge for my artistic research has been to find alternative and poetic means of representing a communication that is more sensory than verbal: hence the idea of “conversation” (The conversations, performance 2010) and my collaboration with the deaf community.
I believe that I have learned much from this exchange and sharing of projects; in the search for something that unites us, beyond linguistic barriers, aspiring to an amplification that is aural but above all
emotional means opening oneself to those vibrations. There is always a moment in my works, for example in the Third and Fourth conversations, when a kind of unveiling occurs and the public’s perception becomes more pronounced.
But the poetic suggestion never leaves room for facile patheticisms; it is calibrated to an irreducible fraction, and founds itself on factors of experience and process.
I'm trying to explore avaster territory, not least in terms of audience, than that dedicated to performative events within the visual arts.
My artwork positions itself as another way of looking at the world and at what we consider the dominant channels of communication; it is a search for the strength in fragility and a refusal to shy away from conceiving the spectator as the sounding box of the entire operation.

Francesca Grilli (1978, Bologna, Italy) lives and works between Amsterdam and Italy. She was the winner of the International Prize of Performance in 2006. From 2008 she is part of Fies Factory, Centrale Fies.

Website: www.francescagrilli.com

Francesca Grilli - The Golden Age

Francesca Grilli - The Golden Age

On Screening:
Oro (16 mm film on dvd, 08’40'', 2011)

The falcon was the bird of the king. In addiction the falcon is connected to the alchemic language: birds language, considered as twitter, was the secret language spoken by alchemists. Birds language, also known as “Hermetic Qabalah”, is an universal language spoken before the Babele tower from which every other language was generated. This video wants to explore the contemporary meaning of gold, using the king Mida’s story as a metaphore. A falcon is free to fly inside the library of the Benedictine monastery of San Giovanni in Parma, one of the last alchemical places in Italy. I invited an inhabitant of La Gomera island, to whistle the whole story from Ovidio’s Metamorphoses.

Selected Films:
Cléo de 5 à 7 (Agnès Varda 1962)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir 1976)
Respiro (Emanuele Crialese 2002)


Curated by Marco Nember.
Developed in collaboration with
the Italian Institute of Culture in
Amsterdam between May 2009
and September 2013.