GRJB (Gabriella Rhodeen and Jesse Bonnell)
RESIDENCY IN EXILE: 15 April 2020 - 15 April 2021
RESIDENCY AT CASTELLO SAN BASILIO: 1 May - 24 May 2021
PERFORMANCE - Flag Semaphores: 24 May - 29 May 2021
Jesse Bonnell (b. 1985, Neuchâtel, Switzerland) is an artist based in New York. He received his MFA from California Institute of Arts. His work has been shown at REDCAT, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, RADAR L.A., South Coast Rep, The Getty Villa, EMPAC, The Collapsible Hole, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Machine Project, CAP UCLA and Grotowski Festival. Bonnell has been awarded the MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and has participated in numerous residencies including REDCAT, Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Headlands Center for the Arts, Abrons Art Center, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and CAP UCLA which commissioned and presented his work titled, Group Therapy. He is an inaugural member of the APAP Artist Institute created by Liz Lerman, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph; and a cofounding member of Poor Dog Group, a theater collective based in Los Angeles.
Gabriella Rhodeen (b. 1989, New Haven, USA) is a performer currently based in New York. She has performed in venues such as Human Resources Los Angeles, REDCAT in Downtown Los Angeles, CA; HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place in New York, NY; Strasnoy Theater in Moscow, Russia and site specific locations both in the US and Internationally. Recent collabo- rators include Zoe Aja Moore, Jennie MaryTai Liu, Jesse Bonnell and Jess Barbagallo. She holds a BFA from California Institute of the Arts.
From April 2020 to April 2021 Gabriella Rhodeen and Jesse Bonnell [GRJB] participated to Castello San Basilio's Residency in Exile, a year-long programme of artistic engagement which culminated with a performance in Pietragalla (in the province of Potenza) on June 26th 2021.
GRJB is the collaboration of interdisciplinary artist, Jesse Bonnell and performer, Gabriella Rhodeen.
After proposing a site responsive live work for Castello San Basilio to have premiered in May, 2020, initiating a program of performance for the residency, the plans were suspended due to the lockdown of the country in March 2020.
The artists have remained in dialogue with us and have agreed to an offsite collaboration that explored Castello San Basilio and Basilicata's region from afar. Offering an extended period of time for research to be completed from the artist’s own home in Los Angeles (rather than at Castello San Basilio) GRJB have produced short films and works on paper that reflect on place, absence, memory and community.
GRJB’s initial reference point for the performance was Christ Stopped at Eboli (Cristo si è fermato a Eboli) a memoir written by Carlo Levi in 1945. In the book, Levi recounts the experience of his own exile in Basilicata (at the time known as Lucania), the region of Southern Italy that surrounds Castello San Basilio. A political activist and vocal anti-fascist, Levi was arrested in Northern Italy and exiled to the far southern-region for one year. His account is one of loss and discovery. Examining and reframing the text, GRJB found profound resonance between the author’s own time and the extraordinary moment in which we find ourselves today.
Concurrently, GRJB started drawing upon their own films and recorded conversations with artists, collaborators, administrators, past Castello San Basilio participants and Basilicata residents, to develop multimedia content for 2021's performance.
We started our residency in exile looking to create a remote response to the physical space of Castello San Basilio from our home in Los Angeles. Our primary focus was on creating new ways to collaborate, to make performance across vast distances. As the year has progressed, our work has become a micro-archive of the daily experience of navigating the seismic shifts in our world and the evolution of performance as we know it.
Flag Semaphores (2021)
Our on-going series, 'Flag Semaphores' looks at a variety of material centered on visual and verbal communication to phantom spaces and people across vast distances. In this short film, ‘Eboli’ we pay homage to one of the first pieces of source material we encountered in the fall of 2019. The memoir, ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli’ by Carlo Levi, is a deep inquiry into the effects of fascism, poverty, death, and civic redemption. The parallels to our shared global moment are clear. In the coming weeks we will be creating more short films with a variety of close collaborators. The full collection forms the full semblance of Flag Semaphores. - GRJB