ALEPPO SOAP OPERA
Installation-based performance, 2015
I have always thought that the Mediterranean countries, beyond social and religious conflicts, are united by a deep cultural connection, one that follows the paths of the diffusion of the olive tree and the laurel, the two main ingredients of the soap made according to the Syrian Aleppo Tradition.
From the ancient soap of Aleppo to that of Marseille, Mediterranean culture has created inextricable bonds between East and West that are to be recovered and revealed with all the strength that we can find, to fight the seemingly intractable conflicts of the present.
The civilization of the olive tree and that of the laurel leaf are ideally stitched together by a thin red thread that unites the East and the West, along the routes of trade, conquests and migrations, that have always characterized the evolution of human culture.
Other suggestions are blended in this plot that celebrates the ancient ritual of hand-made Aleppo soap: the concept of “washing dirty laundry”, the Western post-colonia sense of guilt, the weight of current geopolitical events and terror. All these elements converge in the performance, among bottles of shining olive oil, fragrant infused laurel and caustic soda, human tears and red hair.
Five women make the Aleppo soap in front of the audience, according to the traditional recipe.
At the end of the ritual I pour some fresh lemon drops in my eyes. My tears will are collected in a glass vial and mixed with the soap cream, as a final special ingredient.
All this is ideally “reflected” in a site specific multisensory installation hanging from the ceiling; a projection screen made of 200 thin pieces of soap, all sewed together in order to create a grid. Under the heat of the projection, the screen releases a strong scent of laurel in the room.
At the end of the performance the women wrap the mold of soap in a jute cloth. The soap will rest for a few days and harden. Then it will be cut into pieces. Each piece of soap will contain a tear; the very DNA of the performance.
Profile Expo Piazza di Spagna, Roma - 2015
Concept and art direction - Francesca Fini
Performing - Francesca Fini, Innana Trillis, Alessia La Torre, Azzurra Neroni, Sara Ben Ismail
Website of the project