EGP U Scantu IMG 07

Elisa Giardina Papa
"U Scantu": A Disorderly Tale


1 Mar 2024 — 19 May 2024  

Wednesday – Sunday, 10am-5pm 

City Dome Gallery, Collective

Free entry | Recommended donation £3

In “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale (2022), Sicilian artist Elisa Giardina Papa brings together ceramic sculptures and a large-scale video installation to explore the Sicilian myth of the ‘donne di fora' - ‘women from the outside and beside themselves’.

Considered to be at once heretical and magical healers, the ‘donne di fora’ defied simple categorization, believed to embody a range of opposing qualities – feminine and masculine; human and animal; benevolent and vengeful.

Giardina Papa reimagines the ‘donne di fora’ as teenage ‘tuners’, young women who ride through the seemingly abandoned utopian urban landscape of Gibellina Nuova in the west of Sicily, on their bikes customised with powerful sound systems. Drawing on songs and stories told by the artist’s grandmother, as well as 16th and 17th century archival material from the Spanish Inquisition, U Scantu intersperses scenes of the modern-day tuners with poetic text and visual motifs from a 19th century collection of Sicilian fairy tales.

Ducks feet and thick ceramic braids growing out of the walls and speakers reference the magical powers of the ‘donne di fora’. Running around the walls of the gallery, a text work quotes from the New York poet, Megan Fernandes, who together with composer and performer duendita, have collaborated with the artist on the lyrical and sound composition.

First exhibited at the 2022 Venice Biennale, the work finds new resonance in the architecture of the City Dome Gallery and Collective's home on Calton Hill. Robert Louis Stevenson references ‘witch’ burnings taking place on the north side of Calton Hill ‘in former days’. In more recent centuries, the hill has become a welcoming landscape for the magical and unruly, occasional haunt for joy riders, and host to Beltane, the contemporary reimagining of the ancient Celtic May Day fire festival which celebrates the return of summer.

"U Scantu": A Disorderly Tale is the first solo presentation in the UK of Sicilian artist Elisa Giardina Papa, whose work has recently been presented at the Venice Biennale, MoMA and the Whitney Museum. Giardina Papa’s research-based art practice explores knowledge and desires that have been lost or forgotten, disqualified, and rendered nonsensical. Giardina Papa is represented by Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of special events, culminating in our special May Play weekend, taking place 11-12 May, and led by our resident Play Artist, Frieda Ford.

Collective would like to thank the Italian Institute of Culture in Edinburgh who are supporting the presentation of “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale, and the media partners for our 40th anniversary year, The Skinny.

Exhibition interpretation can be found here, with an audio version here.

In Conversation essay with Elisa Giardina Papa and Barbara Casavecchia here.

Image: Elisa Giardina Papa, “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale, 2022. Video and ceramic installation. Variable dimensions,12 min. Still frame from video. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner. ©Elisa Giardina Papa.

Italian Cultural Institute of Edinburgh