Dove Hanno Tremato Le Placche | Notes On Ilenia Caleo And Valerie Tameu’s Conversation

Following the debut in Turin at Polo del '900, and the debut of the same work at Mattatoio in Rome, performer and choreographer Valerie Tameu discusses the making of the work with artist, scholar and activist Ilenia Caleo, in the context of the artistic programming REFRACTIONS.

by S. Himasha Weerappulige - Published on 28/07/2023
REFRACTIONS. Valerie Tameu, Dove Hanno Tremato Le Placche. Spazio Griot at Mattatoio, June 27, 2023, Rome. COURTESY SPAZIO GRIOT. Photo: Andrea Pizzalis

Dove hanno tremato le placche is also a childhood game in which we tune into cyclical time, where memory and prediction mingle as imagination; an ironic limbo inhabited by outlandish presences, veteran objects of history, actions, and words in search of wonder. It is a new dance, taking place in an impermanent present, yet it has the flavour of ancient things. Things that have been systematically invisibilized but still tremble beneath the earth. They exist. They pulse.

This is the underlying thought behind Valerie Tameu’s performance, author and performer whose research focuses on the relationship between performance and identity, and the discrepancy between memories and history. Her performance materialises into a physical practice that blends bodies, ideas, theories, and hallucinations. With a feverish manner, she explores the concept of archive and memory. An archive can be both violent and encouraging. It can exclude and shape memory. One of these processes is seen in Eurocentiric history-making, which dehumanizes and sugarcoats extremely violent episodes from the past that still resonate and reverberate in the present. That said, an archive from below can also reinforce marginalised subjectivities. It can add pieces to the history that is usually displayed in the public domain. It creates cracks in the official version of the story.

REFRACTIONS. Valerie Tameu, Dove Hanno Tremato Le Placche. Spazio Griot at Mattatoio, June 27, 2023, Rome. COURTESY SPAZIO GRIOT. Photo: Andrea Pizzalis

Tameu gets her hands dirty, smudging them with the dust of the archive, as if it were flour or gunpowder. She transports memory into a physical dimension through her body. “The archive is a political space,” she says. Consequently, her body, through osmosis, becomes political. It always has been. She blends personal archives with the official ones. “A process that started during the pandemic” she recounts, “I was emptying the attics of my home. I began to collect these objects, mapping them in some way. Most of them were photographs, videotapes, cassettes, including music. Some had voices recorded on top. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to old cassettes where there’s music, and then there’s the voice of a child or a parent recording something else. So, there was this myriad of information, all mixed and superimposed. There were gaps. People who are no longer here, events or mementos that are no longer remembered. And there, already, a first work of imagination happens,” the work of reconstructing history, a natural reflection of the brain. Valerie talks to Ilenia Caleo, performer, activist and researcher. Between Ilenia and Valerie there are strong but silent looks of understanding and mutual admiration. Both oscillate between the far-reaching and unabridged reality of theatre stage and the fragmented memories of the archives.

Valerie Tameu (left) and Ilenia Caleo (right) in conversation | Refractions, Spazio Griot at Mattatoio, June 27, 2023, Rome. COURTESY SPAZIO GRIOT. Photo: Andrea Pizzalis

“I was struck by the amount of Blackness in those photos.” Valerie comes from an Italian-Cameroonian family “and I was struck by how they were positioned in situations commonly known ‘as very Italian’.” From her personal experience, we draw a conclusion. Valerie has an extended family, a Black family, a Black family living in Italy. A Black family living in Italy during the 1980s, “it was a period of struggles, it was the time of direct actions at FIAT (a notorious Italian automobile factory), and of the first anti-racist movements.” A large, present family that fights and thrives. That was forty years ago and beyond.

Italy is new to the migration phenomena. It’s not racism; it’s just that we are not accustomed yet,” one often hears. Valerie’s family was here in the 1980s.

We have always been here.

She then connected her archive to institutional archives. At the Polo del ‘900 in Turin–a space containing kilometres of archives from various entities–the Gramsci archive, the Nocentini archive, and many others. “Seeing these struggles in the same period, in vintage photos, in black and white photos, with many Black or POC people: it’s different. So, I tried to collect these materials and create these mappings that are somewhat inside, somewhat outside, somewhat memory and somewhat history.” And as a matter of fact, she continues and narrate to the public about various projects born in workplaces, often self-managed by relevant subjects, which were set up in those years. Radio broadcasts, conversations, and so on.

Tameu incorporates some radio excerpts into her work. Excerpts ranging from the beginning of the 1980s to 1989, the year when Jerry Maslo, a militant, an exile, and an agricultural labourer, was killed in the fields of Villa Literno, leading to numerous protests with a strong racialized participation. A painfully familiar image…

With this fluidity of movement and emotions, Tameu’s performance depicts a multifaceted, iridescent, cubista, multidisciplinary imaginary. Photos blend with movement. Movement blends with sound. Sound returns to photos. The music chosen for the performance is black electronic and experimental sounds. AfroRack, Sun Ra, and then radio interludes. The photos from the archive gain corporeality and rise against the monument. The archive undoes the monument and recreates it in a new way. Imperfect. Jagged. Complex. Critical.

Find out more about ‘Dove Hanno Tremato Le Placche’s Artist Residency and the Turin’s premiere.


Promoted by | Assesorato alla Cultura di Roma Capitale and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo
Curated by | SPAZIO GRIOT
Co-produced and co-organized by | SPAZIO GRIOT and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo
Main Sponsor | Gucci
Supported by | British Council
In collaboration with | American Academy in Rome, Fondazione Polo del ‘900, EXP

Find out more about Valerie Tameu’s participation in SPAZIO GRIOT’s artistc programming REFRACTIONS.

Visit Valerie Tameu and Ilenia Caleo.

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S. Himasha Weerappulige

Opero nel cinema, tra casting, sviluppo, ricerca archiviale e programmazione nell’ambiente festival. Il mio background è però legale, e mi ha permesso di sviluppare un metodo di analisi decoloniale che mi porto appresso nell'audiovisivo e nelle arti. Curo diverse piattaforme diasporiche, e per GRIOT sono una contributor.