itineraries


the desert itinerary

life projects

flourishing in the desert

A project by Maria Rebecca Ballestra, curated by Rachela Abbate.

Echoes of The Void is a multidisciplinary, multimedia project by the artist Maria Rebecca Ballestra, promoted by Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. The project, which was started in 2015 and structured in 18 states by 2019, will have come to its last four dates. Three internationally renowned curators (Gantuya Badamgarav, Camilla Boemio, Mazdak Faiznia) collaborated on the project, which focused on the subject of the man – nature relationship with contemporary art, concentrating on the study of deserts from a geological, cultural, spiritual, environmental and political perspective. Each stage is divided into three working phases: the actual travel, the creation of the works and the curators’ critical intervention.

The artistic study looked at the different meanings of the desert and took the conventional Western thought that sees the desert as an empty space, isolated in portions of specific spaces as its starting point. Since it does not have borders that can be regularly defined or definable, as an ecosystem with its own characteristics, the desert confounds, attacks and loses, whilst also accompanying, and putting one to the test. It spreads like a voice and its echo modifies the experience of the relationship of man with nature.

This fragile, complex relationship is experienced within the new trajectories recreated by the artist who demolishes the boundaries, shaping a new map, a new geography of emotions. It is with this project that Rebecca Ballestra has created a personal ‘path’ in the studies of a border zone that links the interior and the exterior, emotive experience and concrete travelling. This negation of the immobile geographic map – as we know it today – is made concrete in the artist’s critical action that promotes art as a form of progress, as an on-going direct experience, that acts here and now, and not once the journey has come to an end. According to the artist, the theme of the desert, at the centre of the broader contemporary debate because of its multiple meanings, is concentrated in the experiential process during the journey and carried out in the creation of the final artwork. The aim of this project is to outline new ways of interacting with the environment, going beyond the pre-established borders of the map through unknown forms of exploration.

Offering a visible trace of the tie between diverse cultural experiences, the works produced at the end of each individual journey have been created together with researchers from the scientific field and humanities, with the participation of local artists on residence programmes. Special publications are also foreseen, including scientific, literary and theoretical essays and artistic contributions, looking in detail at the theme of the individual deserts.

Every itinerary comprises three parts:
The first regards the journey of the artist in the deserts and wasteland itself. These journeys are for the artist Maria Rebecca Ballestra more than a research method, by confronting herself physically and psychologically with conditions of the environment, she explores and experiences possibilities of diverse viewpoints and processes. The artistic production as an expression of experiences and insight got through the desert journeys follows as the second part. For the third part, which focuses on the geopolitical or anthropological contexts the deserts stays in, is invited a researcher to contribute an essay.

Sahara-Desert

the end of a dream:  groundwater depletion

antarctic

environment protection:  starting point to save the planet

Kalahari-desert

bushmen and the roots of human being

Great-Basin

water lost: drought and water exploitation

Victoria-Desert

deserts: a fragile and unknown ecosystem

Merken

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