1999, participatory action, Oreste, Venice Biennale


To introduce the meaning of the today’s event, 3rd of July 1999 as part of the Oreste program at the 48th Venice Biennal, I will mention a few points, instruments of creativity and thinking.

“I see only from one point, but in my existence I am looked at from all sides” : this Jacques Lacan’s line is appropriate to suggest the sense of this performance, but also in tune with a part of my whole work.

Visual models often used in research to clarify or synthesise a particular theory, or define a method, are particularly useful in my own artistic practice.

The diagram that I refer to, comes from a drawing that I made in 1996. At that time I was making a choice among images coming from memory and contexts in which I had lived.

The new model, which comes from this, is not fixed in the past, instead refers to a continuous present time and to myself constantly changing context in which the I (=personal identity) meets the me (=other’s perspective and social identity). The passing of time effects the I as much as the me and the context itself, therefore the terms of the relation are also constantly readdressed.

The diagram is very simple to read: there is myself in the centre and has to do with my own position relating to a specific context, in and outside of Italy (my own country). It is also, as already said not fixed and refers to a continuous repositioning of myself within the contexts.  This dynamic generates an always new relation within the communication schema.


  • communication between people depends on codes of the context in which they meet
  • communication is not possible if the code is not shared by everybody
  • communication is possible if the barriers are removed
  • by creating a virtual context is possible to remove social barriers

“ …the me represents a person’s social identity, constituted in social interaction and shaped under the influence of social norms and public requirements with respect to behaviour.

The I on the other hand stands for one’s personal  identity , whose origin and development cannot be explained solely on the basis of experiences in social interaction, and which is subject to the anarchic spontaneity and creativity of a single identity.”

George Herbert Mead

Audience: people I met during my lifetime.


  1. to remove our perception of each other based on assumptions that we made when met in a particular context, according to a particular role.
  2. to create a new context in which to exchange messages and therefore communicate to people who I met in the past in a different context.
  3. the use of words within social and cultural codes, has to show the poietic dimension and become instrument in the operation of loss of social norms let the personal identity emerge.

Cologni, E. (1999) Diagrammi, notes. Artist book (limited edition)


Oreste was not a group producing collective artworks, nor a not-for-profit organization. It was a variable set of persons, mostly Italian artists, who have been working together with the aim of creating spaces of freedom for ideas, inventions, and projects.

During the 48th Venice Biennale, from June 10th through November 7th 1999, on the occasion of an invitation to the exhibition dAPERTutto, Oreste set up an ongoing program of meetings, interactive performances, round table discussions, lectures, lunches and informal encounters. Almost one hundred events were organized, and more than five hundred people from the whole world took an active role in the project.

Progetto Oreste


Cologni, E., ‘Institutions in Great Britain: Artist as Researcher. Diagrams’, Oreste at the Venice Biennale, AAVV, Charta, Milan 2000