Richard Demarco, the Italian Connection | Exchanges between Scotland and Italy through Richard Demarco in the European context

Lead Research Organisation: University of Dundee
Department Name: Contemporary Art Practice

Abstract

Richard Demarco is one of the most relevant and influential figures in the world of visual arts and theatre in Scotland, and Europe since the 60s.
Since the beginning of his career, through the foundation of the Traverse Theatre (1963), the Richard Demarco Gallery (1966-1998), and later with the Demarco European Art Foundation, his involvement in the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festival, Demarco has been a key player in promoting the European Avant-garde in Scotland and fostering cultural exchanges in Europe. Most relevant collaborations include Beuys, Abramovic, Neagu and Kantor.
Although some studies have been conducted regarding the relationships between Demarco and the European Avant-garde (see for example E. McArthur & A. Watson 2010) the Italian connection has not yet been uncovered, and seminal productions, exhibitions and exchanges with Italian partners have not been researched and re-assessed in a wider context.
This partial investigation of Demarco's activity is possibly due to the sheer volume of events of differing nature that he has organised, promoted and participated in over the years, including exhibitions, performances, plays, conferences, travels, workshops Furthermore Demarco's archives are composed of an imposing amount of documents, photographs, books, artworks and ephemera.
Demarco has produced and shown work from some of the most relevant Italian or Italian based artists of the 20th century: Alberto Burri, Baj, Chiari, Pascali, Paolini, Kounellis, Scialoja, Mimmo Rotella, Merz, Plessi, Sartorelli, Mulas, Quartucci and Tato'. Collaborations and exchanges include Italian cultural key figures such as Palma Bucarelli, the Count Panza di Biumo, Maria Gloria Conti Bicocchi, Achille Bonito Oliva.
Part of the photographic archive has been digitised and became available online with the Demarco Digital Archive thanks to a project conducted at University of Dundee by Watson/MacArthur/Shemilt initially funded by the AHRB/AHRC (2002-2008), with a Resource Enhancement Award 'The Demarco Archives: Accessing a 40-Year Dialogue between Richard Demarco and the European Avant-Garde'. The previous involvement in the Team of the PI (Shemilt) and the Archivist (Lockhart) who collaborated in several projects related to Demarco would be a key facilitating element in the new proposal.
Richard Demarco: the Italian Connection will capitalise on the recovered Demarco Digital Archive (around 10,000 records) and will give the opportunity to uncover the fundamental exchanges between Scotland and Italy through Richard Demarco in the European context.
The project will make available for the first time through translations, seminal historical Italian materials to the larger audience of English speakers.
This project aims to retrace the key exhibitions, theatre productions, events, programs and exchanges between Scotland and Italy organised by Demarco and assess their impact on the cultural community in both countries and provide useful sources for art and theatre historians, scholars, critics, curators, researchers and practitioners based in universities, archives, museums and cultural institutions internationally.

Research will be undertaken by:
1) Archival and bibliographical research
2) accessing the extensive records of the Demarco European Art Foundation collection
3) Interviews with Demarco and the surviving artists, curators, performers, directors and animateurs involved
4) Analysis & Reassessment of events, performances and artworks
5) Rediscovery and occasional recovery of video and film artworks and documentation
6) Workshops and screening with artists
7) Drafting of a Chronology of exchanges between Italy and Demarco in the European context.

The research findings will be published in an edited, peer-reviewed book with an international call for papers to stimulate contributions from different methodologies and perspectives including Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Curatorial and Media Studies.

Planned Impact

The results of the research on Demarco's Italian connection will fill a fundamental gap in the history of the practice and will provide a unique, fundamental and useful resource to individuals and organizations that promote, produce and exhibit the Avant-garde and cultural exchanges in Europe including contemporary art museum, archives, foundations, theatres, media centres, media theoreticians, galleries, art history and performing arts scholars, critics, and arts broadcasting and television production companies

The collaborations with subject protagonists and world class specialists will enable to create a subject-specialist base from which to develop an evolved range of future research and implementation projects involving exhibitions, screenings, publications (books), performances, workshops and online recourses such as an online database.

The Research Team will be in regular and direct contact with key centres of contemporary art and experimental theatre in Europe (particularly Italy and the UK). This will enable knowledge exchange and the opportunity to exchange materials, methods and opinions and to develop a debate on the research findings. Centres include the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, LUX, London; Heure Exquise, France; Lima, Amsterdam; BnF, Paris; BFI, London; Electronic Arts Intermix, New York; ASAC, Venice; Scottish Screen Archives, Glasgow inter alia.

Visits, meetings and research travels by the research team with partner universities, institutions, broadcasters, archives and museums will contribute to consolidate and further extend the network of contacts and the project's impact. A main impact of this project will be on European culture, by way of filling a gap in knowledge and providing seminal references for contemporary practitioners, scholars, broadcasters and curators. Demarco was and remains, a genuine European who has been an exemplar in promoting a European spirit and the importance of culture within this.

The Website will include ephemera, articles, interviews, catalogue of works and artists and be hosted on the main Demarco online archive website.
The publication will constitute a reference resource on cultural exchanges between Italy and Scotland from the 60s to today. Our previous project websites are based around a scholarly database-led approach and more socially orientated pages on Facebook. Both have proved very successful and popular with their targeted audiences. We intend to continue with this approach with Demarco.

A programme, Demarco: The Italian Connection will be organized to take place at Summerhall, Dundee Contemporary Arts - with whom we have close partnerships - and University of Dundee: this will disseminate the results of the research and bring the research and the subject under the international spotlight. Furthermore it will help consolidate the network of contacts and will encourage exchanges on the topic.

The project will promote a new agency of the importance of cultural exchanges within the visual arts/ theatre, and encourage citizens to look positively to multi-cultural society and the cultural integration. Ultimately it will stimulate practitioners and professionals to start international cooperations and collaborations.

Events with artists and performers will be organised for universities' students and for general public, including Sapienza University of Rome.
 
Description The research conducted through archives, libraries and interviews have uncovered a vast range of cultural activities initiated and developed by Richard Demarco between Scotland and Italy in the European context.
These findings have been partially featured in the events and publications (articles, website and social media) as part of the project.
Exploitation Route Featured in publications, exhibitions and media products.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description The research team was invited to present and discuss research findings in three events: at the Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh (May 2018), the Italian Department at University of Edinburgh (October 2018), at the event Art and Healing (The Demarco Archive at la Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice, Italy, May 2019). The events have allowed to disseminate the findings among a diverse range of audiences (specialists and non-specialists) and to develop further a network of contacts within Scotland and the UK.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Title Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection Database 
Description This database available on the project website include data, ephemera, and interviews collected during the project. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data, ephemera and interviews in the database have been discussed and featured in publications. 
URL http://www.italian.demarco-archive.ac.uk
 
Description Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection: Launch Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection Launch Event,Italian Cultural Institute, Edinburgh

Richard Demarco in conversation with Dr Laura Leuzzi.Introduction by Prof. Elaine Shemilt.The Italo-Scot artist, cultural entrepreneur and educator Richard Demarco has been a key figure for the promotion of the European avant-garde in Scotland since the 1960s. Although some research and publications have been devoted to Demarco's endeavours, little is known of the numerous cultural exchanges and collaborations between Italy and Scotland that he initiated and developed in the past fifty years.The research project Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection aims to uncover and retrace these many stories and reassess how Demarco promoted Italian visual and performing arts in Scotland and Scottish art in the Italian cultural context.During the launch event of this new exciting project you will get an insight into Richard Demarco's artistic life, achievements and the cultural relationships he initiated and developed between Italy and Scotland.Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection (2018-2020) is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project based at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee, led by Prof. Elaine Shemilt. Co-Investigators on the project are Prof. Stephen Partridge and Dr Laura Leuzzi. Archivist is Adam Lockhart.The presentation was accompanied by an exhibition of Richard Demarco's artworks inspired by Italy, that will run until the 26th June.
The event was followed by a lively conversation with the audience and allowed some further networking. Thanks to this event some new collaborations were started.
The event was recorded and the video is now available at: https://italian.demarco-archive.ac.uk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://italian.demarco-archive.ac.uk/2018/04/12/event-3/
 
Description Elaine Shemit presents at Art and Healing May 2019 The Demarco Archive at la Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice, Italy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Shemilt presented at the event Art and Healing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://italian.demarco-archive.ac.uk/2019/06/06/art-and-healing/
 
Description Facebook Group _ Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Richard Demarco: The Italian Connection Facebook Group features materials, interviews and event related to the project with the aim to start discussions, gain feedback and share knowledge.
Through the Facebook Page, contacts were made with artists, curators, academics and scholars within the UK and internationally
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.facebook.com/DemarcoITConnection/?modal=admin_todo_tour
 
Description Richard Demarco: Italy, Scotland, Europe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Richard Demarco: Italy, Scotland, Europe

Organised by Italian Studies, University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee.
Since the 1960s Richard Demarco has had a pivotal role in the production and promotion of the visual and performing arts in Scotland. The Italo-Scottish artist, cultural entrepreneur and educator has organised and fostered cultural exchanges and collaborations throughout Europe, and has been a champion of European culture and the avant-garde in Scotland. This event will be a unique opportunity to learn more about his artistic, cultural and personal heritage.

Programme:
6.15pm Davide Messina 'Artworks as Networks'
6.30pm Screening of Winterline (2014, 7 mins) by Elaine Shemilt
6.45pm Richard Demarco - The Italian Connection. Richard Demarco in conversation with Laura Leuzzi, Adam Lockhart, Stephen Partridge & Elaine Shemilt
7.30 Q&A

The Panel was followed by a Q&A and debate with the audience that expressed interest in the subject and discussed some aspects of the research with Demarco, the members of the research team and other experts who attended the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://italian.demarco-archive.ac.uk/2018/09/24/richard-demarco-italy-scotland-europe/#more-371