“The possible has been tried and failed. Now it’s time to try the impossible.” (Sun Ra)

In 1977, Sun Ra landed on Earth, in Italy, with the intention of carrying out a special mission in Rome: to teleport people from the city to another planet through his music. To this end, he brought with him a few faithful followers, including drummer Lugman Ali and singer Thomas Thaddeus aka Eddie Thomas. The event was recorded on tape, but it was not until 2015 that Strut and Art Yard Records released it as a double album entitled In Some Far Place: Roma ’77. Among the songs recorded and compiled, we find Space is The Place.

In qualche luogo lontano: Roma is the title of the program that takes place in Rome within Space is The Place/The Place is Space. This research project, initiated by Bulegoa z/b in 2018, aims to analyse the role of art as a critical practice that offers tools to stop, look and position oneself in the world, to generate situations and imagine ways of living and producing space. Structured through periodic meetings, it takes various forms, such as presentations, reading sessions, walks, actions on the territory and various artistic productions.

The title of the general project comes from the Afrofuturist film Space is The Place (1972-1974) directed by John Coney and written by Sun Ra and Joshua Smith, and places it before its inverted double, causing the notions of space and place to interchange positions. The mirror image of Space is The Place/The Place is Space emphasizes a circularity between the terms, understanding “space”, according to the fictional plot of the film, as the need in art to project a utopian beyond, and, “place”, the need to act on the given conditions. From the reciprocity of the title, the project asks us to think about both notions without applying pre-established hierarchies.

The project began in 2018 at the Bulegoa z/b headquarters, in the Bilbao neighbourhood of Solokoetxe, with the intention of opening a space for reflection on the rapid transformation of ways of life caused by the growing touristification of the city. Since 1997, when the Guggenheim Bilbao museum opened its doors, until today, the city has gone through different phases of urban and industrial regeneration, presenting itself as a successful model applicable to any context based on a service economy, where art and culture play a fundamental role. Last year, this process, like many others, was interrupted by the Covid 19 pandemic, raising new and urgent questions regarding the uses and production of the spaces we inhabit.

In qualche luogo lontano: Roma starts from the city of Rome as a “place” from which to dwell on some gestures of artistic resistance from the past that, even today, traverse the present, and project into the future. Through the creation of a study group that will be active from May to July 2021, the program will unfold based on the contributions of a group of guests: artists, curators, authors, filmmakers, architects, historians and thinkers with some kind of connection to the city of Rome, be it past, continuous, or imagined. Their contributions will revisit a few moments, remains and potential utopias that will help us to think about our futuristic relationship with the place, whilst at the same time, creating a polyphonic map of the city.

The program includes various formats, such as performances, film screenings, artistic presentations, meetings, readings, walks and the presentation of various installations. There will be three phases:

  1. From May 3 to June 12: group study sessions at the Academy of Rome and at different locations in the city. A study group of up to 10 people will be formed via a public call from the Academy of Spain in Rome.
  2. A Summer Intensive, where several sessions will be held, and related topics will be explored.
  3. A final installation that will bring together materials and reflections developed during the group study sessions.

Target audience:

The project is aimed at a diverse audience, since it includes various areas of knowledge and practice such as art, history, artistic theory and criticism, curating, architecture, literature, painting, cinema, art sound, performance, thought, activism and feminist practice.

Artists and guests:

Giulia Crispiani and Patrizia Rotonda, Giulia Damiani, Sara Giannini and Arnisa Zeqo, Sara Benaglia, Liryc DeLa Cruz, Susana Talayero and Silvano Agosti, Giovanna Zapperi, Miren Jaio, Stalker, Alvin Curran and William (Bill) Dougherty.

REGISTRATION: Write to info@accademiaspagna.org including personal data, an abbreviated biography (maximum one page) and a letter expressing your interest.

In qualche luogo lontano: Roma is a project carried out within the framework of the MAEC-AECID Scholarships for Art, Education and Culture for the academic year 2020-2021 at the Royal Academy of Spain in Rome.