SYNOPSIS

Fiori Della Mia Vita/ Flowers of my life

a project by

Gian Paolo Barbieri and Branislav Jankic



How do you tell a story that happened 25 years ago? How do you revisit those far memories? And which facet of these memories do you recall and put forward? These are all questions the photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri and the artist Branislav Jankic had to face for the project “Fiori Della Mia Vita”/ “Flowers of my life”.

This project is based on the true love story of Gian Paolo and his partner Evar, who died a quarter of a century ago. After Evar was killed in a motorcycle accident, Gian Paolo had to deal with his tragic loss. Unable to let go, he has been bringing flowers to Evar’s grave every Sunday up to the present day. He also had many dreams about him, in particular one recurring dream, in which Evar appears to Gian Paolo in a room full of people where only Gian Paolo could see him. In the dream Evar is wearing a black leather jacket and ripped jeans, the same clothes he was wearing the night of his accident, which Gian Paolo only found out later. This suggests that the two of them were and still are connected in a parallel world, a sort of limbo that Evar had gone to and Gian Paolo could access in his dreams.

Branislav takes this in-between space as the foundation for the concept in which Gian Paolo’s and Evar’s love story unfolds by retelling it out of Gian Paolo’s perspective through poetry that shifts back and forth in between reality and dream, past and present, as well as memory and imagination.


In conjunction with Gian Paolo’s other big passion; flowers, the project features photographs of Evar and flower still lifes, that are highly charged with symbolism. The spectator will be granted access to this scenery through different modes of expression, including a book, an exhibition and performance as well as a film, all under the eponymous title “Fiori Della Mia Vita”/ “Flowers of my life”.

The publication is based on a scrap book, in which Gian Paolo collected all of the photographs of Evar, mementos such as pressed flowers and Evar’s notes. The published book shows a selection and is furthermore guided through the symbolism of the flower still lifes and the in-between space created through the poems Branislav wrote. All of these elements illustrate the story in three chapters; Innocence, Love and Death.


At the beginning a pressed blackberry twig is depicted, which Gian Paolo picked in Paladina near Bergamo (Italy), the spot where he and Evar would spend a lot of time together, representing the beginning of their relationship. Among the last pages of the book we see the pine tree that Gian Paolo took from the site of Evar’s accident in Alme, also near Bergamo (Italy). These two symbols frame the story in a paradoxical way. The blackberry twig, which constitutes the beginning of Gian Paolo and Evar’s relationship, symbolises loss, whereas the pine tree signifies eternal life, but represents Evar’s death. Combined this creates a miraculous juxtaposition.

These two elements are translated as real life plants into the exhibition, where they were placed into two swinging vases. In this context they illustrate the beginning and end, hanging on opposite sides, but furthermore the passing of time as their movement resembles the ticking of a clock.

The entire exhibition embodies the before mentioned in-between space and becomes the stage on which the poetic narrative unfolds in the shape of a performance. Branislav constructed this room to illustrate Gian Paolo’s headspace by unveiling a landscape of atmospheric sounds and lights, which is depicted through a golden dawn created by a mechanical sun among other things. All of the objects were built in order to depict this meditative zone. Moreover portraits of Evar fill the walls, underlining his omnipresence in Gian Paolo’s life.

In the centre of the exhibition a circle of white orchids edges Gian Paolo’s dream sphere, which – in the performance- he needs to surpass in order to stay connected with Evar. There are two forces that allow Gian Paolo to walk different paths through the centre.


“Eros”, which is Gian Paolo’s desire to be reunited with Evar is carried out through a physical ritual that is executed by a performer playing a younger Gian Paolo. Like in the poem “Hours” Gian Paolo is standing on white cold marble, mirroring his reality. He sees Evar afar holding a white anthurium, standing on soft black soil. In the poem this is how Gian Paolo imagines the place where Evar is at the moment. This paradisiac forest is rebuilt in the exhibition with Evar standing in the centre as white anthurium. During the performance the actor playing Gian Paolo is placing slabs of marble from reality through the dream sphere to Evar, paving his path over to him. Lifting the heavy marble slabs underlines the physicality of this ritual.


“Thanatos” which is Gian Paolo’s love for Evar even after his death and leads him to bring flowers to an altar like construction, which literally puts Evar on a pedestal. The three images displayed on the altar also denote the three periods of their relationship; Innocence, Love and Death. Gian Paolo would always give Evar flowers during the three wonderful years they had together and bring them to his grave after his death. In this manner there are amaryllis, roses and anthurium, all in a lively red, positioned opposite the pedestal, each connected to one of the periods. The process of bringing the flowers to Evar (during and after their relationship) is one of the procedures that connects Evar to Gian Paolo. In this ritual Gian Paolo places a red amaryllis, symbolising beauty and the worth beyond, on a table in front of the photograph on the altar, which represents the period when they met; Innocence. In the same manner Gian Paolo brings a red rose to Evar symbolising Love and an anthurium for the period Death.

The ritual of crossing with the red flowers past the vases of beginning and end and thus bypassing time is the internal process through the circle. To constitute this path Gian Paolo scatters earth, which again embodies the two forces “Eros” and “Thanatos” and at the same time mirrors a beginning and end.

The film unites these two performed forces (“Eros”, the physical ritual that was performed by a younger actor and “Thanatos” that Gian Paolo himself executed and recited through the poems). Furthermore the film adds sequences that were re-enacted from real life and dreams plus footage from Gian Paolo’s home videos.

All of the different media contain the same core story as well as aesthetic and poetic language, but offer various approaches to the recipient’s experience.


In a way these expressions mark the end of this story and the beginning of what is about to come and on a different level allows their story to live on through these images, memories, imagination and dreams. And finally it will give everybody who steps out of Evar’s and Gian Paolo’s world a different memory to take home.

 

-Annalena Amthor, project curator

 

 

Floor plan of the exhibition/performance

 

florrplan, descriptions (1)

 

  1. mechanical sun, creating the light of a golden dawn
  2. altar
  3. portrait of Evar illustrating the period Innocence
  4. photograph of Evar’s eyes illustrating the period Love
  5. photograph of the symbolic sea burial Gian Paolo made for Evar on the Seychelles
  6. pine branches representing the end of their relationship
  7. white anthurium representing Evar in the middle of a miniature forest, illustrating how Gian Paolo imagines the place where Evar is now
  8. “Eros”
  9. dream sphere
  10. white marble to pave the path to Evar
  11. white orchids
  12. blackberry twigs representing the beginning of their relationship
  13. “Thanatos”
  14. red anthurium, roses and amaryllis, each one connected to one of the periods
  15. portraits of Evar