I diari di Angela. Noi due cineasti (Angela’s Diaries: Two Film-makers) is a posthumous homage from Yervant Gianikian (1942) to his lifelong partner and artistic companion Angela Ricci-Lucchi (1942–2018), in a final elegy and poetic act of love following her sudden death in 2018.
The decades-long joint work of Gianikian and Ricci-Lucchi centred on the catastrophic history of the cruel 20th century, with all its traumas, conflicts, displacements and violence. In a new, slower and more contemplative present, their work restores the memory of world wars and the origins of colonialism in all its brutality from a montage of news broadcasts, home movies and ephemeral cinema. While Yervant Gianikian went back over archives, frame by frame, Angela Ricci-Lucchi would link each event to a wider cultural and literary history which is indivisible from the images. In the titles of their films and film installations they would pay homage to the intellectuals who fell victim to the tragedy of history and who would reflected upon it more profoundly, for instance Walter Benjamin, Ilya Ehrenburg, Elias Canetti and Primo Levi. In doing so, they looked to relate the narration of images to the memory they produced.
Ricci-Lucchi and Gianikian were previously the focal point of an early edition of Intervals, a series devoted to unique recent films framed inside the sphere of film-essay and experimental cinema and featuring the presence of the films’ directors. During their visit in 2014 for the screening of Pays barbare (2013), both film-makers were fascinated by the strong footprint of twentieth-century history in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection and noted the similarities this mode of displaying works shared with their montage of images.
Angela Ricci-Lucchi, originally a painter, always kept a daily diary, writing and drawing about private matters and public events, readings and essays, real people and archives. In I diari di Angela. Noi due cineasti, Gianikian reads fragments from these diaries to private images from the decades they shared in their searches and investigations.
As Yervant Gianikian writes:
“For me, Angela comes back into my life in her handwritten words, in the light calligraphy accompanying her drawings and watercolours (…). I watch our forgotten films, the private recordings behind our work of re-reading and re-signifying the archive of documentary cinema. Daily life made from ordinary things, people close to us, our research into the world of archive materials, a trip to Soviet Armenia with the actor Walter Chiari. Testimonies compiled over many years. These are my memories with Angela and our lives together. Upon re-reading these notebooks I have discovered others I knew nothing about. New things emerge from her final writings and drawings”.
Yervant Gianikian (Merano, Italy, 1942) is an artist and film-maker. The son of Armenian refugees, he studied architecture in Venice, but decided to centre his work on experimental cinema in the mid-1970s after meeting Angela Ricci-Lucchi (Ravenna, 1942 – Milan, 2018). Their early work encompassed different physical and material approaches to film, conceiving “scented films”, a project that would lead them to the Anthology Film Archives in New York and a long American tour. Shortly afterwards, they would replace this working strand with a reflection on memory and the different ways in which the present is indebted to the past through montages showing images of violence and massacres in the 20th century preserved in film archives. Their work came to the fore in 1986 with the film Dal polo all'equatore (From the Pole to the Equator), in which they introduced themes that would pervade an intense filmography: war, imperialism, exploitation of the body, the spectral presence of fascism, the power of images, the reflexive time of film apparatus, and the resonance of the past in the present. They subsequently released The War Trilogy, comprising Prigionieri della guerra (1996), Su tutte le vette è pace (1998) and Oh! Uomo (2004) and their final work together, Pays barbare (2013), was premiered in 2014 in the Museo Reina Sofía. Moreover, their work has been the subject of retrospectives in The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, London’s Tate Modern, Hangar Bicoca in Milan, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and has been shown at the Venice Biennale and documenta Kassel.
Sabatini Building, Auditorium – 6pm
Angela Ricci-Lucchi and Yervant Gianikian
I diari di Angela. Noi due cineasti
Italy, 2018, colour, original version with Spanish subtitles, digital archive, 125’
Session 1. Saturday, 30 March
Session 2. Sunday, 31 March
Yervant Gianikian will present both sessions in a video screened before the film.