“Exhalation” (2021) was first conceived by Ponzini upon Carico Massimo’s invitation to participate in On Air, a collaborative project that functions as an online-offline hub on air, atmosphere, environment, and breath.
Ponzini writes: “My thought, in relating to the concept of breath, was to approach it from a visual point of view, opposing its totally non-visual nature, to then render a sonic impression that could then evoke a mental image.
At that time, I was working on sampling sounds and music from films and, in a broader sense, from images, by means of field recording. An unorthodox approach that overcomes the smoothness of the source device, but also the cleanliness of sophisticated sound recording. Breath, therefore, came to be configured as raw, primordial matter to be sculpted and moulded.
The piece invites us to close our eyes and visualize several iconic breaths from cinema such as:
>Paul Verhoever’s 1990 film Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. The struggle for power and freedom revolves around the possibility of breathing on Mars.
>Apollo 13 (1995): the movie narrates the events of the eponymous space mission, which failed due to a serious accident that put the lives of the three astronauts at risk due to a lack of oxygen.
>Red Planet (2000), about the terraforming of Mars. By 2057, Earth had become virtually uninhabitable due to overpopulation and pollution. With the intention of colonizing Mars, automated probes containing genetically modified algae were launched to the red planet to create a human-breathable atmosphere.
>The breath of the ‘dark father’ par excellence, Darth Vader from Star Wars (1977)
>The sick, drugged breath of Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), played by Dennis Hopper.
>Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984), a milestone of Japanese animation, returns a reflection on the breath of the earth, emblematically contextualizing it with respect to the themes dear to the director, such as ecologism and pacifism.
Ramona Ponzini’s practice is inscribed in a hybrid territory: techniques from both visual and literary arts, such as collage or Burroughsian cut-up, are combined with sound experimentations and improvisation in a noise and jazz style. At the compositional level, the process adopted by Ponzini follows a purely conceptual matrix, crossing the idea of “editing” and “sampling” of coded and reprocessed elements through the use of loop machines and both digital and analog effects. They are d’apres sonori that draw on poetry, music and landscape, captured through the technique of field recording.
Ramona Ponzini’s debut dates back to 2005 with the project Painting Petals On Planet Ghost, focused on Japanese poetry as a privileged source of musicable lyrics, which landed on PSF Records, Japan’s cult label of artists such as Keiji Haino and Kaoru Abe. Over the years, Ponzini has collaborated with prominent figures such as Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Tom Greenwood of Jackie-O Motherfucker, and with industrial percussionist Z’ev. Her solo project consists of unusual DJ sets contaminated by vocal interactions and sound collages. In 2018 she was resident dj at OGR in Turin during the exhibition Dancing is what we make of falling, curated by Samuele Piazza and Valentina Lacinio.
In 2019 she realised Trees are columns with clouds on top, a vinyl and a sound performance dedicated to master Italian painter Salvo, presented by Norma Mangione Gallery and during the exhibition Autoritratto come Salvo at MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2022). frogs.picus.VANNA (2021) is a three-channel installation commissioned by the Castello di Rivoli – Museum of Contemporary Art.