Valerio Rocco Orlando, born in Milan in 1978, received a BA in Dramaturgy from Università Cattolica in Milan and a MA in Film Directing from Queen Mary, University of London. Constantly balancing between an intimate portrait and a choral dialogue, through film, photography and installation, Valerio Rocco Orlando’s community-based projects focus on the relation between individual and collective identity in order to explore and enhance the complexity of human relationships in contemporary society. Conceived as a gift, as an enriching element of interchange, Valerio Rocco Orlando’s art can be considered as the realm of reciprocity, multiculturality, knowledge of the other as knowledge of the self. His art is strictly linked to education and interweaved to daily life and society. It’s a poetic which becomes politics, (“personal is political”,says his green neon light), but not just according to ideological criteria that simply divide right from left wing. It’s a policy of emotions, of shared experiences, of different cultures that meet and mingle on the ring of artistic expression, the best mean to express individuality through community and vice versa. That’s how personal becomes political, recalling the slogan women used to spread in the 70s. “I talk about personal in order to talk about the whole social system”, Valerio asserts.
Achieved for his first solo show in an art gallery, the seven-channel video installation “The Sentimental Glance” by Valerio Rocco Orlando is an outstanding mosaic of feminine voices and glances, and elegant plot composed by six stories which represent the artist’s sentimental education through a deeply intimate approach, reflecting on tensions and connections between childhood and adulthood, passion and loneliness, maternity and androgyny. Six women tell their own stories, giving the title to every single video: Celeste (2002); Rita (2003); Eva (2004); Dobrochna (2005); Amalia (2006); Eleonora (2006). Six heroines to focus the gaze on; six women whose voices and stories darken any redundant detail, any possible out-field. Sounds merge in moving images, accompanying without invading, in a never-ending osmosis with these intense feminine existences.
Bisiàc (2007) is a two-channel video installation, a timeless short story which takes place on the shore of Isonzo river, in Northern Italy. It’s the first chapter of a cycle about the relations between new generations and the local dying languages and traditions. Two aged five twins, a boy and a girl, are the main characters of the video, paddling across the river and playing with stones along the shore. Dressed un traditional local clothes, the two children declaim nursery rhymes in their own language, the old venetian dialect, as in contrast with the evolution of contemporary society, establishing an osmotic and sinesthetic relationship with water.
Dialogue, listening, other’s awareness, sharing and reciprocity are just some of the main themes in Valerio Rocco Orlando’s work. That’s where the video project “Lover’s Discourse” starts from. It began in 2010, when the artist posted flyers round Brooklyn, in New York, asking for “couples and lovers” to collaborate in his new video installation. Along with his website and email address, Valerio made the short message even more charming, including a quote by the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy: “There is no being without being-with and there is no existence without co-existence.” Then he chose the most enthralling stories he felt would best contribute to the project, creating narratives that become a visual web of relationships, through interchange and sense of community.
“Coexistence” is a neon light produced by Valerio Rocco Orlando in 2010,
the artwork that gave the title to the artist’s first solo show at Tiziana Di Caro Gallery in Salerno (Southern Italy), two years ago. Love, reciprocity, sharing and interweaving of stories, lives and experiences (themes Valerio is particularly fond of) come back in this neon artwork through the quote “Il n’y a pas d’existence sans coexistence”, from an essay of the famous French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, handwritten by the artist’s partner. Coexistence represents a focus on individuality and collectivity, a light pointed on the value of sharing, as in a mirror game, and traces an artistic and social poetic based on the sublimation of existence, between personal experience and its amplification through community.
“Endless” is an open artwork, without any end, actually. It’s an artist’s book in limited edition, published in its first two volumes by Valerio Rocco Orlando. It’s a full spectrum piece of art that is composed over time through sharing and comparison. A collaborative project, which starts from the question “What forms of relationship do you think can improve society?”, posed by Valerio to internationally renowned writers and artists who have influenced his own artistic research. The first answers are those by Maria Paola Fimiani, Gilbert&George, Liam Gillick, Corrado Levi, Jean-Luc Nancy, Mario Perniola, Ugo Rondinone and Luigi Zoja, through a methodology which is not that far from the making of a video or an installation.
“Education” is, without any doubt, an other leading keyword in Valerio Rocco Orlando’s artistic production. Through a series of workshops conducted in some high schools in Italy in 2011 with the support of Nomas Foundation and in Cuba in 2012 as part of the XI Bienal de la Habana, the artist gave birth to an interesting and kaleidoscopic community-based project, through a comparison between different educational international systems and an artistic approach to alternative models of knowledge’s transmission. As the philosopher Bruno Latour, in his book “Laboratory Life” analyzes scientific discoveries through the study of the relationships between the scientists and their families, in the same way Valerio leads a survey on different public school-system through interviews to students themselves. Being sure that educating means constructing the self in relationship with others, projecting the self in space and community that surround us.