On December 17, the Gulag History Museum will host a performance by Italian artist Rossella Biscotti, based on materials from a lawsuit in the case of the Red Brigade radical group. In April 1979, several Italian military and intellectuals were accused of organizing a series of terrorist acts, including the assassination of ex-minister Aldo Moro. However, the material evidence proving the guilt of the radical left was never made public. The Biscotti performance is a six-hour reconstruction of a courtroom hearing. Life around talked with the artist and found out why she is conducting her campaign in Russia, what problems of the judicial system are illustrated by the Red Brigades case, and why the benches from the famous meeting are so important for reconstruction.
The V-A-C foundation invited me to arrange a performance in the case of the Red Brigades as part of their program “Processes. Experiences of Art in a Museum” at the Gulag History Museum. It seemed to me very appropriate to reconstruct the events of April 7, 1979 in this very place. The action will be attended by many people from Moscow - from artists, including Ekaterina Lazareva and Valentin Dyakonov, to simple enthusiasts.
The reconstruction of the court is based on the April 7 process, which used new judicial principles justified by the introduction of a state of emergency in the country and anti-terrorism laws. For example, preventive detention (the defendants spent four years in prison before the trial), transactions with suspects who were released in exchange for information; the growing stream of charges, which allowed to extend the period of pre-trial detention, as well as emergency security measures. Academicians, journalists, radical political activists and feminists have appeared before the court.
First of all, they were accused of being allegedly responsible for the ideological and moral corruption of students and incitement to political activity. The performance is very much attached to the current situation in the world, because so far many journalists are behind bars, and our rights to freedom of speech and protest are being violated more and more.
The Trial is a rather long project. The first performances took place at the XXI century Roman National Museum of Art in 2010 and at the dOCUMENTA festival in Kassel in 2012. Sometimes the action included the use of audio recordings, sculptures, videos, silk-screen printing and books. However, in the Gulag Museum, we decided to concentrate on the performative act.
The core of the action is to reproduce the recordings from the courtroom for six hours (the original recordings lasted 200 hours and were broadcast on the rebel Radical Radio.) The purpose of the performance is to give these recordings a human face and to relay their essence to the fullest extent possible. Invited volunteers will act as intermediaries between the initial testimony and the outcome of the trial, not only translating Italian into Russian, but interpreting a specific political language and history. The artificially formed idea of the April 7 trial will return to the initial testimony of the defendants.
The performance uses benches that were in the courtroom that day, and this is an important part of the action. They allow participants to physically feel the condition of members of the Red Brigades.