Date: Tuesday, March 5, 2024, 15:00–18:00
Venue: Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz (bar space), Vienna

About the film

The Magic Mountain takes place in northern Italy, not far from Turin, a densely populated area. Yet in the nearby villages of Corio and Balangero and the adjacent disused asbestos quarry, an atmosphere of suspended time prevails. Active from 1918 to 1990, the Amiantifera was Europe’s largest open-pit quarry. Today the area is at the centre of an extensive decontamination project. The still-legible signs of mining coexist with traces of gradual rewilding and the reappearance of various plant and animal species.

The Magic Mountain explores the multilayered network of relations between human beings and the land. It examines both the process of the recolonisation of the contaminated land by plants and lichens, and the fascination at the origin of the history of the use of asbestos, a mineral that has been considered magical since ancient times due to its fireproof properties. The delicate transition phase that is currently underway contrasts a recent past marked by some of the most complex events in Italian industrial history, and a future reconversion aimed at both self-sufficiency in production and the return of large areas of this mountain, inaccessible for decades, to their surrounding communities.

The oneiric memories of the inhabitants of the area, mostly former mine workers or their relatives, is one of Roubini's central research trajectories, and a way of investigating their collective unconscious in relation to the complex situation.

About the presenters

Micol Roubini is an artist and film director. Her research focuses on the relationship between memory and orality, marginal territories and their anthropization, internal migrations, and the elements of transition and conflict determined by the passage of time. She works mainly with video, sound, and writing. Her projects have been presented in many solo and group exhibitions including at the Museo Casa Testori in Milan (2021), Festival Villa Medici in Rome (2021), Light Cone in Paris (2017), and Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella (2017). In 2022, Roubini won the Italian Council prize for the installation The Magic Mountain developed in collaboration with Lo schermo dell’arte festival. With Davide Maldi she is a co-founder of the production company L’Altauro for the development of art, film, and documentaries. 

Gabi Scardi works as an art historian, contemporary art curator, writer, and professor. Her work focuses on art, the public sphere, and contemporary collaborative methodologies. She collaborates internationally with art museums and institutions, curates exhibitions, public projects, and lecture series. Scardi is a co-director of Animot magazine, an academic journal exploring the topic of animality in the context of animal studies. She is a member of NAHR, Nature Art & Habitat Residency, an ECO-Laboratory of Multidisciplinary Practice, located in Taleggio Valley, Bergamo, Italy. She is the director of a course in socially engaged art at the Accademia Unidee, Fondazione Pistoletto, in Biella, and teaches modules on contemporary and public art at the Università Cattolica and IED – Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan.

This event is part of the Ecologies of Care Seminar, convened and organized by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, and Kunsthalle Wien.

The Magic Mountain was created with the support of the Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture as part of the Italian Council (2022), promoted by Lo schermo dell’arte in cooperation with nctm e l’arte, and implemented in partnership with the Talbot Rice Gallery, PAV Parco Arte Vivente, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – MMSU Rijeka, and the Cerezales Antonino y Cinia Foundation – FCAYC. The work will enter the collection of the MAN Museum of Art of the Province of Nuoro.

Images credit: The Magic Mountain by Micol Roubini, 2023, video still. Courtesy of the artist and Lo schermo dell'arte. The project is realized with the support of the Italian Council (2022).