EX-VOTO (2018)

Film installation with three HD videos, 30 min with sound

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Photographic piece

“An ex-voto is like a thread that connects the earthly to the supernatural through faith in the divine's ability to accomplish something impossible or desired. Usually it is offered by return of a particular grace, like a healing. An ex-voto can take many forms: an object, an act..”

—Sister Maricar


Nestled in the remote town of Cascia, within the mountains of southern Umbrian, lies the Santuario di Santa Rita de Cascia – the resting place of Saint Rita (1381-1457), canonised as the Saint of Impossible Causes.


The film “Ex-voto” (2018) examines the legacy of Santa Rita (1381-1457), canonised as the “Saint of Impossible Causes,” through the daily activities of the nuns currently resident at the convent in Santuario di Santa Rita de Cascia in Italy.  Over the course of two years, hosted by the Mahler & LeWitt Studios residency program in nearby Spoleto I became acquainted with the nuns and recorded their lives on film.


The piece also explores the connection of the twentieth century French conceptual artist Yves Klein to the saint. Klein was deeply fascinated by Santa Rita and left several ex-voto’s at the convent. When on a pilgrimage in 1961, Klein anonymously left an ex-voto to Saint Rita, a transparent perspex casket with three departments containing pigment for International Klein Blue, pink pigment 'monopink' and gold foil 'monogold'. The piece was first discovered by conservators after the 1979 earthquake. The convent also received a Blue Monochrome painting from Klein, dedicated to Santa Rita. For a number of years, not knowing anything about the artist, they used the monochrome as a backdrop to their nativity scene. As Sister Maria Rosa Bernardinis describes, “I think Yves Klein would be happy to know that his Blue was used as the sky for our nativity. Blue for him was the divinity, it recalled something heavenly.”


“Ex-voto” explores expressions of faith in material and visual culture whilst offering a meditation on the nature of spirituality itself. The film incorporates other locations near Spoleto which have spiritual connotations, including Tomaso Buzzi’s folly complex in Montegabbione, ‘La Scarzuola’, and a submerged church, Chiesa diSan Vittorino, used by Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky in his film ‘Nostalghia’.

EX-VOTO (2018) Three channel video installation

Chiesa dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Festival di Spoleto, Italy, 2018

Photo: Matthew Burdis 

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Excerpt from one of the three HD videos with sound

EX-VOTO (2018) Three channel video installation

12 Mackintosh Lane, London, United Kingdom 2019 

Photo: Robert Glowaki

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Video still

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Video still

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Excerpt from one of the three HD videos with sound

EX-VOTO (2018) Three channel video installation

12 Mackintosh Lane, London, United Kingdom 2019 

Photo: Robert Glowaki

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Video still

EX-VOTO (2018) Three channel video installation

12 Mackintosh Lane, London, United Kingdom 2019 

Photo: Robert Glowaki

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Excerpt from one of the three HD videos with sound

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Video still

EX-VOTO (2018) 

Photographic pieces

Credits:

Mahler & LeWitt Studios

Guy Robertson

Marina Mahler

Eva LeWitt

Tommaso Faraci

Sophie Clarke

Christopher McSherry


Support for production:

Mahler & LeWitt Studios

The Danish Arts Council

The Goldstone Family Foundation 

Yves Klein Archives

Zeuthens Mindelegat, Denmark


A huge thanks to all the sisters at Santuario di Santa Rita da Cascia for your

hospitality, trust and time. 

To Sister Maricar and Sister Maria Rosa for the very inspiring conversations. 

To the pilgrims of Saint Rita, Erika thanks for sharing your story.

Thanks to Fondazione Santa Rita da Cascia onlus for granting permissions and to

Monica Guarriello for your fantastic help and organisation during recordings.