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Currently on show in the Gallery of San Gimignano, the Parisian street artist wanted to celebrate, through a performance, the funeral of a peasant reality now disappeared. The same theme is also at the center of a short film made with the Italian director Alice Rohrwacher.

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An unconventional funeral ceremony took place on September 26, 2020, in the Tuscan village of San Gimignano. The performance was ideated by JR (Paris, 1983), a French artist widely known for his large-scale urban installations. The event, titled "Processione Omélia Contadina", took place involving local and international audiences. Starting from Piazza Sant'Agostino, the procession ended its journey in a field outside San Gimignano, burying the large figure representing a farmer - a work by JR - carried "on his shoulders" all the way and accompanied by a band of musicians.JR, known for his works usually placed in urban contexts, this time changes scenario, but still highlighting the social inequities that disrupt the lives of individuals and communities.

 

Processione Omélia Contadina,San Gimignano. Ph. Courtsey: Galleria Continua.​​

 

Regarding the genesis of the project, the Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, co-director of the homonymous film, was strongly involved in the realization of the performance. As explained by Alice Rohrwacher, "Last autumn during a walk on the border between Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, I was telling my friend and artist JR my worries about the destruction of the agricultural landscape, violated by the intensive monocultures with which large companies are shaping entire territories (…) I told him, as the daughter of a beekeeper, about the great death of insects that similar plants produce, and the struggles of small farmers who try to stem this river in full of speculation, subsidies, pesticides. At a certain point, we stopped at a crossroads: on all fronts, uninterrupted rows of hazelnut trees spread until they reached the horizon. As we watched, we said to ourselves that it looked like a war cemetery. On the way back, we decided: if it looks like a cemetery, we must celebrate a funeral. But let it be a funeral full of life!" In this way, was created Homelia Contadina, the short film presented as a preview of the Special Screenings of the 77th Venice Film Festival 2020. A work moved by the need to narrate the crisis of a world in deep transformation, the peasant world, harassed by the impositions of the market. 

 

 

Processione Omélia Contadina,San Gimignano. Ph. Courtsey: Galleria Continua

 

On the same day of the performance, JR inaugurated his first solo exhibition at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano. On view until January 10, 2021, Galleria Continua exhibits a series of photographs taken by JR on glass, plaster and a site-specific installation. The latter occupies and transforms the entire audience and the stage of the former cinema theater where the gallery is located. In the rooms located on the second floor, through a series of photographic images and texts, the artist illustrates his early artistic career through the lenses of a camera found in the Paris metro. Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to portraits of ordinary people, printed in large formats and glued on the walls in the neighborhoods of Paris first and then in many other cities around the world. Ordinary men and women who come out of anonymity thanks to his works and become a cry of complaint against the injustices of the contemporary world.

 

Cover image: Processione Omélia Contadina,San Gimignano. ph. JR via Instagram.

Written by Maria Eleonora Piva

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

 

 

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