In Review: Spring Session 2024

Mahler & LeWitt Studios, Spoleto


Our Spring Session in Spoleto was attended by a highly talented group of artists, writers and curators who each had an impactful and productive period of research and making. The season suited our composer in residence Neil Luck ideally, who creates instruments with organic materials. Neil was the awardee of our Andrew Mangold music residency at Casa Mahler open call. Art historian and curator Serena Schioppa, meanwhile, began research on the Afranio Metelli centenary exhibition, in partnership with Palazzo Collicola, and visual artist Toby Christian worked on his new manuscript for Koenig Books. Ghalya Saadawi, winner of the 2023 Fitzcarraldo Editions / Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize, also joined the session. Meanwhile, a number of former residents returned to continue research projects, including medievalist Stephanie Wisowaty and ceramicist and materials designer Carly Breame.

Serena Schioppa with Afranio Metelli’s wife Ann Wood and their son Giacomo.

Serena Schioppa is an art historian and independent curator based in Rome. She joined our Spring Session to research and develop an exhibition project celebrating Afranio Metelli’s (1924–2011) centenary. The exhibition will be hosted by the gallery of modern art in Spoleto, Palazzo Collicola. It will be curated by Schioppa and the current director of the museum, Saverio Verini, opening in November 2024. Born in Pissignano, near Spoleto, Metelli was a leading figure in the art scene of Umbria where he lived and worked for most of his life. Sol LeWitt and Metelli were close friends and colleagues. More info.

Afranio Metelli, late 1970s, photo: Alberto Zanmatti
Guy Robertson and Serena Schioppa at the Spring Open Studios, sharing research around the work of Metelli.


Neil Luck, Andrew Mangold music residency at Casa Mahler

Neil Luck in the music room at Casa Mahler.

Neil Luck writes: “I used my residency in Spoleto to develop a project centred around experimental approaches to group listening, sensing, performing, and walking in rural, or semi-rural areas. I am developing a body of Sensible Activities; exercises, instructions, and performance strategies which transpose mediated ways of seeing and hearing into environments removed from electrical, or digital technology. These walks and tasks are not simply listening experiences, but are designed as critically performative excursions into natural environments, a resilient performance practice that requires little external or institutional infrastructure to be realised. Perhaps it chimes with the late Romantic concept of the Sublime; the awesome, unknowable, the occult. For the Romantics, and not least Gustav Mahler, the interest in the pastoral and sublime in music was in part a reaction to encroaching industrialisation in Europe. For me, these interests are catalysed specifically by both an awareness of a changing planet, and the ubiquity of digital technologies.”

At our Open Studios, Neil presented a short film made in Spoleto, titled Six New Leaf Strategies (2024, 8″30′), documenting his ongoing exploration of local flora as music/noise instrument. He also shared a body of scores produced during the residency and relating to the Sensible Activities.

As part of his Open Studio, Neil also organised a performance walk through the centre of Spoleto, with an audience who were asked to engage with the new Sensible Activities. The walk involved collective listening experiences with sticks and stones, call and response echo exercises using the acoustic properties of the Piazza Duomo, ‘ear-worm’ recreations using water fountains, leaf-playing lessons, and the detection of microscopic sonic reflections in the arches of Spoleto’s medieval aqueduct. (Photo-documentation below). Neil is now developing a publication and audio release relating to these studies. More about Neil’s work here.


Ghalya Saadawi, Writer in Residence

Ghalya Saadawi

Ghalya Saadawi won the 2023 Fitzcarraldo Editions/Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize for her proposal Between October and November, a book on time and loss under an extended capitalist modernity, on what we keep and what is taken away. Written in daily entries and fragments, Saadawi’s book threads political family histories, life writing and cultural criticism, thinking through philosophies of history, cultural obsessions with past and foreclosed futures, revolutionary legacies, the contradiction of the destruction and persistence of certain historical forms.

Her essay, which she worked on in Spoleto, will be published in 2025.

More info>>.

Toby Christian, Artist in Residence

Toby Christian at the Torre Bonomo.

Toby Christian’s interdisciplinary practice uses dissociative and divinatory processes to question dominant modes of representation and communication. His writing presents the reader with high definition textual spaces for habitation, where objective descriptions elicit feral poetics. Since 2020 he has been developing Stringer, an application which produces a unique, temporary, suspended digital string sculpture in response to a user’s spoken statement.

Toby Christian sharing new writing with peers at an informal gathering during the Spring Session.

During his residency Toby worked on writing for his fourth book, to be published by Koenig Books. Alongside the writing, he also explored the fabric of the Torre Bonomo via the extension of an ongoing series of exercises carried out in his studio, using fragments of frayed string (one sculpture is pictured below, on a windowsill in the Torre Bonomo). He presented these in ‘Cuki Spago’ at his Open Studios. More info.

Thank you for reading. We look forward to sharing details on our summer Festival Session with you soon.

Eva LeWitt and Guy Robertson
Directors, Mahler & LeWitt Studios