Previously at the ICA - Films

Francesco Clerici, Hand Gestures, 2015

Hand Gestures

21 Nov 2015

★★★★ "Beautifully and artistically shot" The Upcoming

A Q&A with director Francesco Clerici and artist Velasco Vitali follows the screening.

This documentary film follows the process of creating one of Velasco Vitali’s famous dog sculptures, from wax to glazed bronze, at Fonderia Artistica Battaglia (Battaglia Artistic Foundry), in Milan. The film observes the work of a group of skilled artisans in this 100-year-old foundry and reveals the ancient traditions of bronze sculpture-making, unchanged since the sixth century BC.

Over the centuries, many technological innovations have come about in art. Yet, even today, in order to create a sculpture in bronze, it is necessary to take the same steps taken in the sixth century BC for the Riace bronzes. These steps are not taught in school, but are passed on in the ancient oral tradition and through apprenticeships from artisans. This documentary observes and feels the work of Fonderia Artistica Battaglia: a place where the past and present share the same gestures and where each gesture is a sculpture itself. The story of the process follows the birth of a dog sculpture made by the Italian artist Velasco Vitali. The story of a dog transforming from wax into glazed bronze will show, with the use of archival footage, the historical process of a bronze foundry yesterday and today.

HAND GESTURES Offical UK trailer

Historic Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzù used to say that the sculpture is a hand gesture, a gesture of love. According to Larry Shiner, Professor of Philosophy, History and Visual Arts at the University of Illinois:

"Art, as we understand it normally, is a European invention of just two centuries ago. Involving many hands and many minds, art, however, has always been a matter of collaboration."

These are the two ideas at the core of this film, which follows the production of a Velasco Vitali sculpture inside the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, in Milan. Ancient Greeks did not distinguish between art and craft. Techné covered both. This is the starting point from which the project was developed, and we take the point of view of the camera which observes and reveals the process. An artist who sculpts, who works the waxes, is treated in the same way as a craftsman who turns that wax into bronze, building and destroying other ephemeral sculptures: they have been making the same gestures for centuries, and by showing this to the camera they reveal historical “jumps” in time.

Learn more about the film.

Hand Gestures, dir. Francesco Clerici, Italy 2015, 77 mins, Italian with English subtitles

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