How do we handle materials, what is their known and usual use, how can their qualities be defined? These questions were at the core of Material and Rules, a five-days workshop tailored for Alchimia’s BFA program by Doris Maninger with the assistance of Carla Movia. The workshop dealt with acts of defining, ordering, categorizing and in essence has the aim to encourage the students to think about how they look at things, and how their own act of looking defines what they see.
During these five days students used play as a form of investigation, understanding the importance of experimentation before final decision making, how that moment of freedom is paramount while keeping an absolute respect for self-imposed rules.
An important part of the this year’s course was the visit to the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology of Florence, one of the most significant in Europe. The Museum owns a very important patrimony, through which it is possible to trace the history of research methodologies adopted by anthropologists in the 19th and 20th centuries, and to gain knowledge over the colonial methods adopted to study any non european culture. The most spectacular section of the collections is the more than 25,000 artefacts deriving from exploratory journeys and scientific missions conducted in many regions of the planet in the late 18th – early 19th century. They consist of all kinds of objects: garments, clothing accessories, jewellery and ornaments, masks, architectural elements, boats, equestrian vestments, idols and amulets, offensive, defensive and hunting weapons, tools for farming, fishing and cooking, decorative items from houses, musical instruments, religious objects of different cults, books, paintings and manuscripts. These objects are all made out of natural materials: wood, bark, leaves and plant fibres both in their natural state and as components of fabrics and woven objects, fruits and seeds, bones, ivory, horns, shells, metals, stones, clay, natural dyes, skin, feathers and hair.
The colonial gaze vis-à-vis early scientific methods gave an important inspiration to the students projects, as did the incredible techniques developed to master natural materials all found in the museum’s collection.
Enjoy the visuals yourself and remember, mind your look.
The second year BFA is: Roberta Consalvo, Elisa Cassaniga, Lisiane Hilario, Kristin Knoll, Chloe Leigh, Victoria Matsuka, Ginevra Montoschi, Uta Myazawa, Luisa Quartin, Cosima Rohden, Piera Shi, Sophia Taul, FuYu Tsai, Ian Lai Wen.