Children of Unquiet is a new body of work by Mikhail Karikis that takes place within the intricate natural, historical and socio-economic context of the geothermal area of the Devil’s Valley in Tuscany, Italy. Known for its legendary association with Dante’s Inferno, this is the very location where sustainable energy production was invented 100 years ago and where the first geothermal power station in the world was built, in the village of Larderello. Until recently, a community of around five thousand people lived there in a group of iconic modernist industrial villages planned by italian architect Giovanni Michelucci. Following the introduction of automated and remote operation technologies by the industry, unemployment increased and prospects for the young became limited resulting in the rapid depopulation or abandonment of entire villages.
At the centre of Karikis’s project is his homonymous film, which he produced in collaboration with children from the region. The film orchestrates a children’s “take-over” of a deserted workers’ village and its adjacent industrial and natural locations. Accompanying the film, a photographic series and a Super 8 film capture the children’s visions of the future of their homes in the deserted villages as they depict them in a series of futurological drawings and urban plans generated in workshops with the artist. In addition, the project features a sound work entitled 102 Years Out of Synch, which traces the site’s legendary, literary and cinematic connections with the Inferno and the sonic imaginary of Hell, as well as a new board game designed by the artist to activate decision-making processes, dilemmas and conflicts that echo the conflicting narratives of the social-economic preoccupations at the site.
In Children of Unquiet a desolate post-industrial site exudes new potential unleashed out of the ruins by a community of children. By challenging narratives of a failed human project and obligatory migration that dominate them, they evoke different possible, desired or imagined futures.
Mikhail Karikis is a London-based artist whose practice emerges from his ongoing exploration of the role of sound and the human voice in creating a sense of collectivity that shapes people’s lives and professional identities, and challenges dominant political and cultural conventions. Karikis’s work is exhibited at 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014). Recent shows include Assembly, Tate Britain (2014); Aichi Triennale, Japan (2013); Manifesta 9, Belgium (2012); Danish Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale (2011).
The exhibition - organized by Villa Romana in collaboration with Radio Papesse - is accompanied by the publication Children of Unquiet, designed by Heartfelt Studio and published by future perfect, London.
The project has been supported by Arts Council England, Art Sheffield 2013, Toscanaincontemporanea 2013 – Regione Toscana, Town of Pomarance. The homonymous film has been commissioned by Art Sheffield 2013.