Kavi Gupta

Johanna Billing

09 Feb - 30 Mar 2013

© Johanna Billing
I'm gonna live anyhow until I die
9 February - 30 March 2013

Kavi Gupta CHICAGO is pleased to present Johanna Billing's most recent film. 'I'm gonna live anyhow until I die'. Billing’s videos weave music, movement and rhythm - placing subtle emphasis on the individual within representations of changing societies. In her work Billing directs the participants and puts in place a series of improvisations around the notion of performance and the possibility it holds to explore issues of the public and the private. The protagonists in Billing’s videos all play themselves but take part in staged situations that oscillate between documentary and fiction, as a multi-layered interpretation of a place.

I'm gonna live anyhow until I die (2012) is a video work set in Rome, that has its origins in a project to mark the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, co-commissioned by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, and the MAC, Belfast, during 2010-2012.

The main characters are five children who run around the streets of Rome, doing whatever they like after abandoning their parents at the restaurant, Al Biondo Tevere1. After running through the park of the Roman Aqueduct, a courtyard in the 1930s working class district of Testaccio, and Ostia's Seadrome, the children finally arrive in an empty school in the centre of Rome where time seems to have stood still. The old classroom has been turned into storage and here they begin to play with the obsolete pedagogical tools and technological instruments they find. It is as if they are trying to understand what to do with them or what they could be used for. Little by little, each child begins to compose black shapes on sheets of drawing paper folded in half, creating blots that resemble those of the Rorschach test. The children’s imaginary journey takes them back and forth in time, place, and genre, freely following their own pace and rhythm.

Harnessing her talent for research, Billing used Lazio, Rome as source material, drawing on traditions, the human psyche, film, and education. She references Italian Neorealism and as well as psychoanalytical workshop techniques. Visiting Rome during the demonstrations against university reforms in autumn 2010, Billing began to focus the work on the future of the younger generation and the populist political ideology, which has been undermining the education system. The work is also haunted by the life and death of Pier Paolo Pasolini, who anticipated the social and cultural changes that would sweep the country at the end of the 1970s. The project is also a loving tribute to pedagogical heroes such as Bruno Munari and his tactile workshops for kids. It also champions the early tradition of Italian filmmakers who in their often biographical films about the 40s and 50s, focused on the freedom of children exploring their city as a way to reflect upon historical and societal changes.

The accompanying soundtrack arranged by Billing features a Romany violin, upright bass, whistling, and improvised interpretations of the songs Cariocinesi and Mechanics (originally written by the Italian progressive experimentalist Franco Battiato), serving as homage to Battiato and his classic concept album Foetus from 1972. The final result is the product of a meticulous editing process that places equal focus on both the visual material and sound recording.

Johanna Billing was born in 1973 in Jönkoping, Sweden. She attended Konstfack, International College of Arts, Crafts and Design, in Stockholm where she has lived and worked since graduating in 1999. Recent major solo exhibitions include "I’m gonna live anyhow until I die”, The Mac, Belfast, (2012), “I'm Lost without your Rhythm", Modern Art Oxford, ”Moving In, Five films”, Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, (2010), ”Tiny Movements, ACCA, Melbourne, ”I’m lost without your rhythm, Camden Art Centre (2009), ”Taking Turns”, Kemper Museum, Kansas City; ”This is How We Walk On The Moon”, Malmö Konsthall, Malmö (2008); ”Forever Changes”, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel and ”Keep on Doing”, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee (2007). She has participated in survey shows such as 4th Auckland Triennial, ”Last ride in a hot balloon”, Auckland (2010), Documenta 12, Kassel (2007); Singapore Biennale (2006), 9th Istanbul Biennial; 1st Moscow Biennale (2005) and 50th Venice Biennale (2003).

Tags: Johanna Billing, Bruno Munari, Pier Paolo Pasolini