Monthly Dispatch
from VILLA ROMANA - February 2023

February is Black History Month! Here at Villa Romana the month didn’t just last 28 days but few brighter days more - and will continue in different ways along the whole year! We celebrated BHM by supporting and collaborating with the rich programme organised by BHMF and The Recovery Plan, and by re-opening to the public.

Jermay Michael Gabriel animated the house as the first guest artist in residence of 2023: he stayed with us for the whole month, taking time to work and focus on his exhibition and performance, and collaborating with the miracle team who has been putting together the most intense and inspiring programme of this year BHMF’s edition: SFORZANDO. He convened and brought here amazing people and spirits, enjoying cooking and enacting many moments of radical togetherness. His artistic research and practice, focused on the possibility of challenging the elusiveness of the Italian colonial archive, and his engagement with the restitution of looted objects and the reconsideration of the colonial violence embedded in some collecting practices, provided grounds for many collective reflections.

After weeks of more quiet working sessions with Claudia, Ala, Victor, Eva and with Carola and Ilaria from Radio Papesse, many more people lived the house with us and contributed to the making of its reopening. During the last week of February, while renovation works have been still going on the first floor, the rooms of the ground floor and of the guest quarters on the second floor got warmed up by residents of YGBI* and the different activities organised at Villa Romana for them by BHMF.  *(YGBI Research Residency is a platform designed by The Recovery Plan to collectivise young artists of African descent in the context of Italy and provide research avenues and career support. This year’s selected participants were: Mistura Allison, Elena Ndidi Akilo, Leyla Degan and Theophilus Imani with a mentorship by artist Sonia E. Barrett). Chef Prince Ebo Asford stayed with us as first chef in residency at Villa Romana and delighted YGBI participants (and most of us!), performing a marathon of lunches and dinners and blessing us with the most sophisticated delicacies and alchemies blurring Ghanian culinary traditions with Italian ones. What a treat!

On Friday 24 February we launched our first event of the season and opened with a double-exhibition and a performance. It was a joyful and meaningful opening and we would like to thank all the people that joined us to celebrate the work of Muna Mussie, SADI, Georges Senga, and Jermay Michael Gabriel! Chef Ebo Asford shared his art with the public too! Thanks to you all, gratefulness to the artists, the curators of and around BHMF, to Ooh Sounds, Nub Project Space, the artists, the YGBI research residency participants, and the whole community!

Very cold winter winds are blowing here, but we are so warmed by the arrival of our first residents! Samuel Kortey Baah is here in full spirit, and the last day of February also Jessica Ekomane joined us. Very soon Diana Ejaita will arrive with her daughter, and after her Pinar Öğrenci will be also finally with us. We cannot wait to enjoy the full house!