Matteo Lanfranchi


This is my third time in Sri Lanka: in 2014 I travelled through the country as a tourist, in 2015 I was invited as an artist to the Suramedura residency, and now I’m here to direct the Snowball Effect residency. We have 6 weeks to deliver a show, a format, that can also travel to Europe. The starting point is pretty big: identity, family, us vs. them. On the 3rd and 4th of November, I held a workshop to all the artists involved to create common ground and a starting point. I proposed some of the activities that I use with my company, Effetto Larsen, to investigate topics with the public and to involve them in our artistic processes.

We started working on identity: what we think makes us who we are, what we feel close to and what we feel distant from, what moves us, what is important and meaningful for us. Divided into groups, we then played a game inventing 3 communities, each with social rules, language, songs, ethical principles, and rituals. We had good fun and it triggered interesting thoughts. We ended the first day with a game I normally use to create clusters: someone asks a question out loud, and then the participants can reply choosing a position in the room, where one side means yes and the other no. We laughed a lot and discovered that most of us share the same ideas and principles. I like the moments when the group is split in two because it always feels like a little revelation.  The second day I proposed working on our family connections, thinking about them as constellations and networks, and asking what could put them in danger or threaten them. What emerged was the need to preserve communication to keep the relationships alive and healthy. None of us perceived our families as physically in danger or exposed to particular threats. We ended the day talking about the whole process and choosing some focus points and topics for each of us to work on.

This residency is challenging and stimulating. We have to produce a show, we are a big group, some of the artists involved can only join us for the last week, we have very different backgrounds and we need to deliver something that can work for any kind of audience, e.g. city, village, South East Asian or European. I envisage inviting audiences to play a game where they will be divided into groups and be lead through different activities to eventually become a community. We are making a step forward every day in creating something flexible enough to merge with proposals by local artists that we are working with. My goal is to produce a simple format, which will we reach as a result of a ‘sedimentation’ process.