"The Living Layers (2012) series consists of the previously un-exhibitedwork resulting from Valentina’s encounter with the caustic,cramped, stone-cold, chilly “cementified” surfaces of urbanspace.  Whereas the starting point in her previous works was aliterary tale (The Princess and the Pea, Don Quixote, Dante’sInferno), the six photographs here are no longer arranged accordingto a story line, but all have the same emotional theme in common:they are the material outcome of the long-term bond she hasinterwoven with the Tor Pignattara district and the city in general. A setting which, in terms of surroundings, architecture, andlandscape, has an “emotional atmosphere” that is unusual for her,born and raised as she was, both as a person and artist, in the softMaremma landscapes of northern Lazio.

It is the “emotive quality irradiated by surroundings andobjects” , the particular Living Heritage of this territory, inother words,  which sketch out her new imaginary.  If theLiving Layers project has attempted, by means of contemporary art,to interpret the particular range of skills, customs, ways of lifethat are part of a community’s Intangible heritage, and inparticular those existing now and thus still being formed, ValentinaVannicola interprets above all that state, of emotion and mood, whichevery place evokes in its inhabitants.  A heritage ofsensations, even if contrasting, made up of aspirations, melancholy,immobility, curiosity, apathy, desire, which can be found both in thefurrows of everyday life and in the larger expanses of History.

And at last coming back to the mental space from which thisjourney began, an image imagined a thousand times, that could benothing other than one’s own home, the place from which one leavesand to which one returns, where the fears so often imagined arefinally faced. Deliverance that can occur only in a no man’s land,enclosed in a suspended, unmoving moment, frozen thus incapable ofproducing real change, but precisely for this reason, no longerunalterable. A parallel universe, materialized by Valentina through photography, which we build in secret, of which we are prisoners, but which at the same time welcomes us, protects us, warms us. A space in which we can move freely and without end, and thus go back in time to relive forgotten or lost passages from our lives, to discover “how it might have been.” And finally meet our deepest fears and simple obsessions, face to face."

from the text of Simona Antonacci







The work is printed on Epson Luster paper

Dimension: 90x120 cm

Edition of 7

Year 2012




Study and analysis  of the area

Living Layers is a multi-year project produced by theWunderkammern Gallery (Rome)in collaboration with MACRO – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma.Valentina Vannicola was involved in the project and invited toreflect on the urban context of the sixth municipality area of Rome.To study the area, she used maps, charts, tracings,and long walks.

The place became theprotagonist of the images and the prompter of the story. Thevisualisation of the area was translated into amodel representing the portion of spaceanalysed, withits green areas, main roads and spatiallimits. This allowed Vannicola to have an overall view and to sum up,in an image, the place of investigation to be worked on.

This image aboveis of the finished version of the plasticmodel, presented on the occasion of theexhibition held in the spaces of the Wunderkammern Gallery. Theobjects positioned – the airplane, the chair, the whale’s tail,the suitcase,the boat and the house – indicate the point in which the photographwas taken.

Wood, plastic, paper, wool, soil. Dimensions: 47cm x46cm x 53cm



Preparatory sketches

Once the locations hadbeen chosen and the images previsualised, the first preparatory sketches werecreated. Later, these were broughttogether in a handmade book.



Exhibition and catalogue

The final work waspresented in an exhibition at the Wunderkammern Gallery, and wascomprised of the six photographs, two installations and allpreparatory material.

Valentina Vannicola’s work concluded the LivingLayers project, which involved three other artists: Alexander H.Auriema, Valentina Vetturi and Mark Jenkins. The complete work wasbrought together in a catalogue presented at a conference at MACRO –Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma.

Using Format