Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka November 11th 2015 I visited Sri Lanka last summer, on holiday. I’ve been travelling alone all over the Island, meeting people and discovering places. It’s been an amazing experience: I travelled a lot in my life, but it was my first time in Southeast Asia. I’ve been particularly impressed by the kindness of people and by the consequences of the war and of the Tsunami. Many tragic events happened here, but you realize it only if you pay attention: I think most of the tourists don’t know how difficult life has been here. Or how hard it can still be.
Now I’m here again, more than a year later, for an art project. The first days have been challenging: I quickly realized that I have to change all my ideas about the work I want to propose here. My projects usually have a strong theoretical part and are based on communicating with people. Here all my theoretical stuff means nothing to the locals, for obvious cultural reasons, and language is a limit, bigger than I thought.
I am currently working with emotional memories: I am investigating the relationship between spaces and feelings, based on the idea that some spaces are, for each of us, keepers of a time. There are places in Milan, my home town, that always have something to tell me: a street where I kissed a girl I really loved, a square where I made one of my most important performances, a place where I received some terrible news. Every time I go there, or I just pass there cycling, these places talk to me. I have been giving workshops about emotional memories, and I now consider them a way to make space travel in time. I saw people crying remembering things happened years ago, I saw other shining with joy talking about moments of pure ecstasy, and all these emotions where there, tangible and shareable. In these moments, these people where living again the moments they told me about, showing unexpected aspects of the places they were talking about. It’s like giving shape to ghosts, some kind of ghosts we created with our presence in the past, now visible through narration.
I am asking locals if they have a special place here in Hikkaduwa: I am visiting all these places, following emotions and other people’s memories as a traveller’s guide. I am seeing this town with totally different eyes, knowing what was there for others and discovering what was there for me. I met a woman who showed me where she saved her daughters from the Tsunami; a young man showing me the place where he plays with friends on the beach (something you don’t see in the tourist area); another one told me about the temple where he goes, a very special place; another one told me about the fish market, where his father, who passed away, has been working all his life. I am visiting a place, and an emotional memory, nearly every day. My idea is to make an emotional map of Hikkaduwa, and reproduce it at Sun Beach Hotel. I am still thinking about the techniques I’ll use, and I am still not satisfied by the possibility of sharing these materials with locals.
I love the atmosphere here: the group is great, we are having very good chats about our projects, and all our ideas are already mixing up. Yesterday, while walking on the beach with other artists, Juri found a piece of a palm leaf: it immediately reminded me of the Captain’s mask in Commedia dell’Arte, with its long nose, and I’ll try to realize a costume with natural materials. I would love to create a character, that could become a link for all the rest. I’ve been thinking about the idea of creating a “lost guest” at Sun Beach hotel, a guest who left behind some strange traces, it is not exactly clear what happened to him. Maybe he turned into some strange creature?
I am also planning some street activity with Juri, we would like to bring some characters and theatre actions in the market and in some other places. I am changing my mind very, very often while I’m here: I feel this place is giving me lots of info, and I feel like I’m tuning in. I’ll see where it is bringing me.