The artists had been selected among 90 Italian artists who applied for the residency. During their month in the city in October 2018 Gianfreda and Urso created works on the theme London is Open, which they presented in the final events of the residency.
The theme London is Open is inspired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s campaign to keep London open to the rest of the world and it is particularly significant now that the UK is at final stage of negotiations with the EU before Brexit.
During the residency, the artists had the opportunity to meet the directors of the National Gallery and the Italian Institute of Culture, gallerists, curators, and founders of art start-ups. Their works were featured in the Guardian, Artribune, and Living of Corriere della Sera, among others. The film maker Marco Faziofollowed them during the month to realise a short documentary on their experience.
Alberto Gianfreda is an artist and a professor of Sculpture Techniques at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. The project he developed during the residency is a vision of the capacity to resist and to adapt even during a phase of separation and fragmentation such as Brexit.
During his exploration of London, he put together a group of vases from different areas of London in various shapes. He then fragmented and recomposed each vase, rebuilding it around a metallic chain. The movable chains allow the new structures to move and to be reshaped.
The recorded sounds of the vases being broken brought the viewer into an immersive experience. The sounds were all alike with no possibility to recognise their original sources . They eventually appeared in the last room. The heterogeneous group of eight vases was fragmented, but made more precious due to its differences, which mirrored those of the city of London.
Alex Urso is a visual artist currently living and working in Warsaw, Poland. He works predominantly in the medium of collage, assemblage, and installation.
During his art residency, he worked on two projects. Firstly, he created a drape combining the Greater London flag and the Refugee Nation flag. Urso’s draps combine the two flags putting together the colours of one and the shapes of the other.
In the second part of the residency, he focused on The Welcome Project, a performative action involving London's citizens. He knocked at Londoners’ doors asking them to swap their doormats with new ones with the simple sentence “Welcome.” Accepting to exchange the doormats, each house-owner agreed to embrace the idea of London as an open and welcoming place. The final result was a mosaic of doormats representing Londoners' willingness to be or not to be open.
The events were on 1 November at the Estorick Collection and on 3 Novemberin a Chelsea flat, with catering by chef Andrea Racalbuto and music by singers Brioni and Alice Pisano, offered by Your Music Experience - YMX.