Francesca Grilli
Sparks 2021
Curated by Paola Tognon, promoted by Contemporary Locus.

Contemporary Locus is pleased to be amongst the projects awarded the Italian Council 9th Edition 2020, an initiative of the DGAAP of the Ministry of Culture.

Sparks 2021 is a performance preceded by a workshop and from which an installation, autonomous in its expressive, evocative and documenting capabilities, ensues.
The project is part of the artist’s practice of investigation of the concept of body and is deeply tied to the interlacing of different disciplines. Differing from earlier projects (performances, videos, sculptures and drawings) where the body is evidence of the resistance to life, to time and to the forces of decline, Sparks 2021 focuses on the overturning of the power relation between child and adult. 

Sparks 2021 pivots around the small but revolutionary action of consigning in the hands of children the reading of our future as a gesture of hope and rupture with the past. After a several days long workshop, a group of children chooses and accompanies adults inside a darkened space, where they can read their hands, one at a time and once only, thus activating an open revelatory and interpretative process, where they are themselves the makers of visions and reflections. 

The entire performance is based on 3 elements: the hands – in a time when contact is negated – our most exposed body parts, visible testimony of our body, point of contact between different generations; the savvy hand reading, utilised by the children as a game to express their imagination and desires; the cap-sculptures shaped as baseball caps with a reclining visor. A playful echo of elms, once worn they signal the beginning of the performance as they shield the children from the direct gaze of the adults. 

The project Sparks, as developed in its final version, includes and transforms physical distance into an element of strength. Touching between child and adult is absent but recalled by a small customised flashlight that the children use to move the adults within the space and to read their hands. According to Francesca Grilli’s reflection, Sparks 2021 therefore transforms light into an element of intangible transmission which augments childhood’s illuminating power – the sparks – and cloaks in magic the balance of a shared game. 

Finally, the installation of Sparks 2021 is a situated work made of the caps/elms scattered in the space by the children – on the floor, the walls and on the especially designed by the artist benches, which function as tools for the game and the pauses during the performance – and from an amplified sound track elaborated from the recordings of the imaginative predictions told by the children. 

Project partner: Corpoceleste

Destination museum: GAMeC, Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, Bergamo

Cultural partners: Associazione Teatro di Roma, Rassegna Buffalo, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Base-Milano, Milan; Gender Bender Festival, Bologna; Immaginare Orlando, Bergamo; Kaaitheater, Bruxelles; Kunst Merano / Merano Arte, Merano; Level Five Artistic Ecology, Bruxelles; MACTE - Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Termoli; MAXXI L’Aquila, L’Aquila; Netwerk Aalst, Aalst; RUPERT, Vilnius; Snaporazverein, Samaden; STUK Arts Center, Leuven.

Sparks 2021 wishes to thank for their support during its journey:  Flanders State of the Art, Santarcangelo Festival (Santarcangelo, IT); Welcome to the village (Leeuwarden, NL); Saal Biennaal (Tallin, ET); workspacebrussels (Bruxelles, BE)

Sparks 2021 -Trailer

Francesca Grilli website

Italian Council

The volume, Francesca Grilli. Sparks documents the work carried out by the artist and the Italian and European phases of the project and its development and, at the same time, offers critical reflections on the themes and issues Grilli’s work brings to the fore, such as the inverting of the adult-child relationship, the figure of the oracle, contact, and distance.

Now available HERE and in bookstores

Francesca Grilli Sparks 2021, installation details. GAMeC, Bergamo, ph. Mario Albergati - Contemporary Locus

Sparks 2021 by Francesca Grilli
Bergamo  -  Project Board

Francesca Grilli, Sparks 2021: Azzurra D'Agostino / Words | Benno Steinegger / Movement | Roberto Rettura / Sound | Paola Villani / Resins Production | Roberto Aztori / Scenography Assistant  Contemporary Locus: Paola Tognon / Project Curator | Laura Santini / Coordination and Support | Elena Benicchio / Educational Services | Sara Pesenti / Access Services | Maddalena Bonicelli / Press Office | Alberto Valtellina / Video | Mario Albergati  e Paul Maffi/ Photography | Naked Studio / Image | Elena Sarno / Translations Corpoceleste:   Chiara Massari / Production | Giulia Traversi / Outreach and Communication | Chiara Fava / Admin;  Set-up and Logistics| Festival ORLANDO: Mauro Danesi, Caterina Sartor, Silvia Giordano e Simona Rota / Coordination, Organization and Communication | Simone Moretti /Set-up and Logistics Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo (GAMeC): Lorenzo Giusti / Director | Sara Fumagalli, Viola Sidoti / Coordination | Manuela Blasi / Communication and Promotion

* Workshop for children aged 9-12: May 8-13.
Where: GAMeC.

** Public Studio Visit with Francesca Grilli Wednesday May 12. Where: Monastero del Carmine, Teatro tascabile di Bergamo
The event is also available on Youtube

*** Performance Sparks 2021 open to the public: Friday May.
Where: GAMeC

*** Installation Sparks 2021 open to the public until May 31.
Where: GAMeC

* The workshop conducted by artist Francesca Grilli and poet Azzurra D’Agostino is a time of play, cohabitation and imaginative learning for children aged 9-12 as preparation for the performance where the children are the absolute protagonists. Using readings, creative writing and physical/chorographical exercises, the children will be trained in observing hands – support and point of contact between generations – as the display of desires and imaginations towards a different future.

** A Public Studio Visit with Francesca Grilli on the occasion of her stay in Bergamo, on Wednesday May 12 at 8pm in Monastero del Carmine, home to Teatro Tascabile. An introduction to the project Sparks 2021 and an opportunity to hear about her research and to start a conversation over her multidisciplinary practices.
Curated by Paola Tognon for Contemporary Locus, with Sara Fumagalli for GAMeC, Mauro Danesi for ORLANDO Festival, Tiziana Barbiero for Teatro Tascabile.

*** In the performance Sparks 2021 the children who attended the Sparks workshop choose one adult at a time and take them where they can read  their hand. In this performance it is the children (the sparks) with their caps-sculptures, who like little oracles become makers of visions and perspectives. The adults are entrusted to the children who lead the game by establishing its rules and imaginations. Sparks does the minimal but revolutionary action of consigning in the hands of children the reading of our future as a gesture of hope and rupture with the past.

**** Sparks 2021 concludes with the final installation in GAMeC which traces the performance with sculptural and audio recordings. A work of situated dimensions composed of caps / helms / sculptures left around by the children - on the floor and on the benches especially designed by the artist and used by the children as tools for playing and resting during the performance - and an elaborate amplified sound track of the recordings of the children's imaginative predictions.

Sparks 2021 by artist Francesca Grilli, destined to the collection of Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMeC) Bergamo, is a project by Contemporary Locus curated by Paola Tognon, in partnership with Corpoceleste and in collaboration with ORLANDO and GAMeC and, for the Public Studio Visit, in collaboration with Teatro tascabile di Bergamo
The project is a winner of the Italian Council 9th edition award, a program for the promotion of Italian art internationally by the DGCC of the Ministry of Culture


Francesca Grilli Sparks 2021, workshop and performance details. GAMeC, Bergamo, ph. Mario Albergati - Contemporary Locus