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The public call out for the inaugural CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2021 initiative asked audiences to submit a 2.5 minute film in response to the theme ‘Communion’ set by interdisciplinary artist and lecturer, Angel Rose. After receiving 2,000 applications, we are proud to present the 30 finalists who will each receive access to the Dazed Space and have their work exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme, appearing across public screens in London, Tokyo and Seoul this September.

Expanding on their commitment to help support the talent of tomorrow, CIRCA and Dazed appointed a community of jurors including Cauleen Smith, Frank Lebon, Hugo Comte, Simone Rocha, Dexter Navy, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Michele Lamy to select their top 5 submissions. From this, one lucky finalist will be selected by world renowned performance artist Marina Abramović to receive the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000.

With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, this joint initiative aims to empower the next generation of artists working in moving-image by platforming new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and the tools to help kick start their careers.

DIANE CESCUTTI, WORLDING MARFA (INTRO), 2021

I’m a young french artist that graduated Nantes School of Art. My work unfolds between an approach to weaving and digital questioning. The weaving loom, at the origin of computation. I try to rethink the raster of the screen, that regular grid, not only from a visual approach but also from a textile territory. I try to consider, through a speculative, fictional and narrative approach, the new potentials of weaving through transmedia forms: weaving, fiction, videos, sculpture, performances, writings. Each artwork is like a focus on specific entries of my field of exploration.

The video I’m submitting, Worlding Marfa is a short video that introduce the following plot: There is a place, near the small town of Marfa where a part of Chihuahua desert slowly flows into the virtual online desert of Active Worlds (Active Worlds is an old virtual world active since 1995). In that same place, the virtual materialize itself back into reel space. The story goes like this: 2 protagonists are going to that strange place to cross to the other side, Their journey starts in Marfa slowly slide from reality to virtual world as they get closer to the Mexican Border.

In the holy communion, there is this believed phenomena of transubtantiation. The wafer does not represent the body of the christ, it is its body. This phenomena is something I had in mind in this project. The idea that the material world mix with a virtual one is a belief of the same nature. The protagonists find their communion in that journey toward their own upload in Active World.

I got interested in Active World because of its singularity. It was though as a kind of 3D online browser and evolved with the investment of its community. It had turned into a kind of virtual public place.

How did you become an artist and what was your route to your current practice?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
After High School, I entered an art preparatory class to prepare for the entrance exams of different french arts schools.

I got accepted to various places and ended up choosing Nantes School of Arts where I stayed for 5 years for Something that deeply sculpted and enhanced my practice was the 2 school exchanges I made there. For the first one, I went during my second year of bachelor’s degree to The Tokyo University of Arts ( GEIDAI) in Japan. I went there for 6 months to the craft department instead of art and learn in the textile section. This is where I learned the technical aspect of weaving. I always had an interest for the process but that stay in GEIDAI really put the structural, conceptual and metaphorical approach of weaving at the core of my practice.

I came back to France and pursue this matter, weaving as code and code as the ethereal form of
weaving.

The second one was during my first year of graduate,I went for 4 months at the University of Houston in the interdisciplinary practice and emerging forms program. There I dive into video and the idea of making a film for a residency, also got interested in 3D printing and 3D images. The screen became the landscape where thanks to fiction and speculation, the potentials of my research could exist.

That is how I reached my current practice, one where the art pieces persevere in an ontological unrest. It is also a practice that was nourished by research and my encounters with writers, curators, artists that gravitate towards concerns similar to mine.

What inspires you to make your work?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
I think I became an artist because, just like every human, I have a reaction to the world and my environnement but that reaction is of a very discursive nature.

I had this obsessive question in mind for a while « Can a digital copy save the real thing ? »
I see in virtual potentials, in the existence of an interface between the material world and the virtual one a potential salvation. The avatar in the screen offer us, inhabitants of the real, a panel of affordances and singular affects. But can we enter it with our haptic sense now ? Through weaving, through textile, through this soft matter?

In general I’m deeply inspired by the moments where arts meets sciences meets philosophy meets history and meets futurology.

Can you identify any elements of your community or collaborators that have had a strong influence?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
In 2019, I met a curator named Oulimata and worked with her in 2020 and 2021 on a project and exhibition called UFA, University of Africain Futures. This introduced me to a sphere of intellectuals, artists, designers of the African diaspora.

This encounter created a shift in my practice and the subconscious craters of my process, one where I allow my own African roots to find a meaningful position in my research and artwork.

Would you consider your practice to have a positive social impact, and if so in what way?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
Yes, I do. There is this book by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay called: Potential History. Unlearning Imperialism. In the book, she calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and its violence. By summoning into my practice, indigenous and traditional crafts, practices and knowledge and also highlighting their relevance now in our technological world, I try to battle the hegemony of a single narrative.

Speculation and Fiction help me create those potential histories. Exploring those potentials can be way more impactful than one might think.

Ron Eglash’s suite of simulation Culturally Situated Design Tools had helped many students learn math and computing starting from their own cultural roots.

I wish for my artwork to bear the same potency: to be able to bring people that feel that the digital and technological world has nothing to do with them and their indigenous or vernacular knowledge into the fabric of our connected world.

How is your project tied to the Circa x Dazed Class of 20:21 theme of ‘Communion’?:

DIANE CESCUTTI:
There is this phenomenon that I am quite interested in because it is the perfect word to describe the thin interface between reality and virtual that I’m interested in that project and my work. This phenomenon is one of transubstantiation.

It takes part of the holy communion in Christianity. The wafer does not represent the body of Christ, it is its body. As if the matter could be transformed into another entity.

The idea that the material world mix with a virtual one is a belief of the same nature. The protagonists find their communion in that journey toward their own upload in Active World.

They think, just like the Christians who think there is a real presence of the body of the Christ in a small unleavened bread, that they could become a real presence in a totally virtual world, through a journey of transubstantiation.

On another layer, there is this sense of communion, as people that unite around a mindset or idea, in Active Worlds that sincerely interested me. It’s a trully huge place managed by a small community of 60 active players that have been around for 20 years or more.

Has your work been recognised by any public bodies or organisations in the past?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
No.

How would the #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 impact your future practice?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
As I just graduated and I’m at the premises of my career, it will heavily help me to establish myself as a professional. As we know the transition from the art school to a state of independance can be sometimes be harsh.

The #CIRCAECONOMY prize would allow me a smooth transition to be able to focus and start right away to continue my researches and work on my new projects.

Buy new gears, materials and tools to develop my practive outside onf the infrastructre of an an art school.

Also I love this quote from H. Jackson Brown,Jr. : » Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. » The #CIRCAECONOMY prize will give me a big dancefloor to dance on.

What would you do with the money?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
I would use the money to buy gears, materials and tools to develop my practice independently including a big weaving loom for myself. A great loom is a quite expensive item so the only one that I owned is one I made it myself.

Then a big part of the prize will help me realize the project that the pandemic took away from me.
To make it short, the video I submitted to circa is the introduction of a way longer film project I had that was supposed to be shoot in Marfa, Texas during summer 2020. I was never able to shot this film and had to go back to France. With the Cira prize, I could plan a new trip, pay actors, a small team, rent shooting material, finally shoot the plot I wrote, and see this ambitious project come alive.

If you are awarded the #CIRCAECONOMY prize, how might this affect your community?

DIANE CESCUTTI:
First, think it will send a strong message of empowernment for people that look like me. I am well aware of what I represent, I am a young, mixed race woman from a french-italian father and a cameroonian mother. I am part of that diaspora of african descent.

When I started my arts studies, I did not see artists like me in the spotlight in France.

It is also something that include the fact of working with weaving and working with weaving as a woman.

Because it had often been reduced as feminine craft ( through the western lens), Weaving had often been denied a meaningfull place in art history, practice and theory.

Then, I hope I will be able to create more opportunities for the people I work with on collective project or my own.