Rachela Abbate

I’m an Italo-German multimedia artist living in Italy, born and raised in Germany. I studied philosophy, dance, and music in Germany and Fine Arts in Italy where I graduated in visual arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna with a master degree. My work investigates the significance of structures and architected spaces – in particular, intangible structures in communication or archiving. In my artistic work, which includes photography, installation, video, painting, digital technologies, and drawing, I explore aesthetic imaginaries, which open up possibilities of reflection and transformation. In regard to architecture and communication, I worked for Joseph Kosuth in Germany and Sol LeWitt in Italy.

The diverse studies in relation to architecture as space in communication were deepened during residencies in the West Bank at the A.M. Qattan Foundation in Ramallah and Decolonizing Architecture in Beith Sahour where I investigated on architecture as warfare and in decolonization (the project on which I participated was shown at the Istanbul Biennale ). In the West Bank, I co-founded Bait al Karama (“House of Dignity”), the first women center in the old city of Nablus combining a culinary social enterprise with cultural activities. In Italy, I co-founded the international platform project for aesthetics in social practice Social Soups of which I’m the co-author, curator, and producer. One of my public artworks was awarded during the Sea Art Festival/Busan Biennale in South Korea, 2013. My work has been shown in Italy (e.g. during the Venice Biennale 2015) and abroad (Japan; UK; US; India; Germany; Netherlands; Monaco).

Recently I started an interdisciplinary project, Imperatives – an artistic Encyclopédie Raisonné, on forms of knowledge communication and aesthetic imaginaries reflecting on necessities of thinking and communication as a socio-political activity. In this frame, I’m currently working on the ballet The good H:E:A:R:T: in collaboration with the Canadian SQx Dance company for contemporary dance.

Here is where I live and mainly work

My work for the past 20 years has explored aspects of spaces and their social functions, which form basic conditions of thinking. In contemporary environments, these spaces change deeply due to political, environmental, economic, social, and technological developments with a profound global impact on the collective and the single being. In these changes, I see a possibility of involvements of art in raising awareness on different levels and therefore allowing changes toward utopian visions and their realizations for a positive co-living. In art, we think in a different space which is inserted in the common space and which opens up possibilities of transformation. I define this space in art a non-space: a non-space is a discontinuity of physical and immaterial structures through translation activity in artistic operation. The non-space initiates reflection and alternative mental processes toward awareness and autonomy. In other words, the non-space is an aesthetic reflection on the different imaginary, creating a momentum of perspective change.

My approach to artmaking lays on processing research and experiences and is realized in participatory, curatorial, and platform projects; writing; and in artistic production in varied media. A core interest of mine are the concepts and theories of text as a specific space and I use texts, writing, and codes as aesthetical material.

The different works are characterized as minimal and conceptual in using series, combinations, and repetition techniques. I use different media or a combination of media depending on the character of my research and therefore media varies or combines photography, digital technology, drawing, printing, painting, video, and sound.

As for example, in one of the last works, Categories of Nature (2017), are combined in an extended series of 370 sheets diverse philosophical texts with a structure which substitutes a communication code, interpreting the concepts of archiving. By using sound and video, I developed site-specific projects and installations, like the awarded public installation History in an Onggi in Busan, South-Korea. An example of a participatory project combining artistic practice and social activity is the still ongoing women center Bait al Karama in Nablus, Israel/Occupied Territories of which I was one of the co-founders and curators. Another project for social change is the international platform project for aesthetics in social practice Social Soups of which I’m the co-founder. Public engagement is a core issue of Social Soups, addressing artistic activities to the public realm and aiming to increase awareness of social justice, focusing on food as an elementary component, because through food can be realized strong and multi-sensorial relations with the audience and the environment.

Recently I started a long-term project Imperatives –  artistic Encyclopédie Raisonné, reflecting on necessities of activity and thinking in societies. This project aims to offer a closer look at social models and circumstances of social awareness and responsibilities. This interdisciplinary project comprises next to multimedia artworks, interviews, and documents concerning civil rights, autonomy, freedom, responsibility, and protection of the environment. The results are organized in an artistic Encyclopédie Raisonné divided into three strands – History, Beyond History, and Nature.

The project Imperatives, therefore, is the realization of my core interest in making art, committed to social changes and interferences in social spaces aiming to transform realities. Art is an agent and container for alternative imaginary spaces stimulating new perceptions. Maybe, in the end, all art is a “fait social” as art is a translation activity from different realities into more or less realizable utopia.