THE GESTURE

                     Development of the video documentation
                                Nicole Leghissa

Many European intellectuals and philosophers share the idea that the hallmark of
Europe's existence is ambiguity or hantise, as Derrida calls it. Its real effects depend
in fact on this ambiguity, on its non-existence. The very idea of a European cultural
identity hinges on a geographical space whose borders and confines undergo
continual change. Within the geographical space that is Europe, identity takes on
a fluctuating meaning that lives through connections, thus overcoming the conflict
posed between universalism and particularism.

For this reason we concentrated our video documentation on the observation of
gestuality in the places where these connections are created. Like a magnifying
glass focusing on the micro-level counterpart of the geographical space that is
Europe: the open city space.

The gesture as a non-verbal, voluntary form of communication concerns above all
relationship issues. Both the gestuality arising from conscious para-linguistic codes
and that arising from unconscious emotional reactions originate, develop and
have their expression in the relationship between self and the other, between self
and the environment.

Following an itinerary that has brought together the countries taking part in this
project, a number of open city spaces were chosen as observation points: squares
and stations, but markets and shopping centres as well. We observed what
happens there, the relations that are created, the kinetics and the proxemic
theory that develop there, not forgetting the presence of tens of millions of
migrants present in Europe today.

On our way we found a number of researchers on gestuality able to accompany
us both in choosing the most meaningful open spaces and in interpreting the
dynamics of gestural relations that develop there.

This is a horizontal level of observation depending on the lightness of a glance and
the emotional nature of the result: a sort of upside-down Tower of Babel in which
to roam and glimpse connections and gestural diversifications of the various
cultures inhabiting the city space and the European space.
The vertical observation level  the in-depth, analysis level  was carried out in
Naples and Procida. From here the first semiologic research on gestures started
during the last century, and it is here that gestuality as a non-verbal form of
communication is still widely used today.

The video information documented became part of the programme of
collaboration during the research, then re-organised in a DVD that takes into
account both the horizontal observation and the vertical in-depth investigation.
Furthermore, a video-installation was realised in which the Overturned Tower of
Babel of Gestures finds full audio-visual expression. A series of monitors forming a
circle in the exhibition hall represented the boundary of a metaphorical town
square or a Europe/geographical space. Within this "square" the visitor is immersed
in a variety of the images and sounds of European gestures; he or she is free to
choose the gestures to include in his/her range of vision, the words to link together,
the connections to create.

                                                           “European identity relates with itself
                                           not only by gathering within itself its own differences
                           but also by opening outwards with no further prospect of gathering”
                                                                                  Jacques Derrida

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