Historically, cantastoria, which means “history singer” or “sung story” in Italian, were prominent in preliterate culture as vehicles for transmitting news and heritage. Their information was conveyed theatrically in a town square through song and pictograms. UMOCA’s group exhibition explores the notion of the cantastoria as a metaphor across cultures and specifically within contemporary art.
In Cantastoria tales are told through singing bards documented across Eastern Europe in a video created by Ukraine’s REP Group. Israeli artist Omer Fast has created a Frankensteinian mouthpiece of news media’s talking head. In Ignacio Uriarte’s film the clicks and whistles of the now obsolete typewriter are rhythmically conjured by the grandfather of beat-boxing, Michael Winslow. Other artwork portrays a language created in Utah and its possible connection to activism from bygone eras. Adam Bateman’s towering monument made from the printed word weighs more than 55,000 pounds. And Spanish artist Ignasi Aballi offers an iconic inventory of every active language in the world today.
“This theme envelops the basic desire for kinship between peoples and the methods by which we hold on to our histories. The exhibition analyzes the museum’s primary function as a storyteller of culture while the artworks poetically decode our diaristic instincts and weaknesses,” says Aaron Moulton, Senior Curator of Exhibitions at UMOCA.
Participating artists include: Ignasi Aballi (Spain), Aram Bartholl (Germany), Adam Bateman (USA), Beehive Design Collective (USA), Aleksandra Domanovic (Slovenia), Omer Fast (Israel), Jakup Ferri (Kosovo), Janos Fodor (Hungary), Carey Ann Francis (USA), Rainer Ganahl (Austria), Andy Graydon (USA), Pablo Helguera (Mexico), Bob Moss (USA), Lucia Nimcova (Slovakia), Lisa Oppenheim (USA), REP Group (Ukraine), Ignacio Uriarte (Spain).
The public is invited to join UMOCA for an opening reception to honor the artists on June 15, 7-9 p.m. There will be a curatorial lead gallery talk beginning at 7 p.m. This celebration is concurrent with Play Me I’m Yours – a community project wherein UMOCA places pianos around the city for the public to play. Like Cantastoria, Play Me, I’m Yours also explores how artists use languages, music, messengers, and witnesses to tell stories about their own communities.