Cecilia Ceccherini & Alberto Valz Gris

Umru: tales from a hydrosocial landscape

Cecilia Ceccherini and Alberto Valz Gris, studi visivi dalle escursioni (Il drago e i Santi)


MUTECO Museo del Tessuto e del Costume, Spoleto
29 June – 30 September


In collaboration with the Musei Civici di Spoleto and with giulia deval, Henry Albert, Guglielmo Diana

Opening: 29.06, 10.00–19.00 (tour 11.00)
Opening hours:
Friday to Sunday 10:30–13:00/16:00–18:30

Event: 06.07, 17.00, Radio 2Mondi, Piazza Mentana: Cecilia Ceccherini and Alberto Valz Gris in conversation with Saverio Verini (Director, Musei Civici di Spoleto) @fuorifestival

Realised as a large-scale tapestry and sound installation, Umru: tales from a hydrosocial landscape is a collaborative project by artist Cecilia Ceccherini and geographer Alberto Valz Gris exploring how communities are defined by their access to water. The exhibition highlights the realities of water scarcity, whilst creating a poetic and reflective space to think through human-environment interactions in the context of climatic collapse.

Political ecology describes water as a multiform and dynamic assemblage of both humans and nonhumans, of bodies and machines, of historical transformations and unpredictable futures. This reality is best captured by the term used by Ceccherini and Valz Gris, ‘hydrosocial landscapes’: “We are interested in asking how combining social scientific and mythopoetic ways of knowing can contribute to the understanding of current crises and shape alternative visions”.

Taking Spoleto and its environs as their starting point, Ceccherini and Valz Gris draw on diverse local subjects including the story of St Felice and Mauro and the dragon, understood as a water mythology, contested water sources used for the commercial bottling of drinking water, and the survival of a rare mountain shrimp in the Monti Sibillini national park. These tales are weaved into Ceccherini’s tapestry using semi-abstract, inter-connected symbols, whilst Valz Gris’s diaristic, experimental writing, interpreted by author Henry Albert and performed by sound artist Giulia Deval, creates a polyvocal, evocative soundscape inspired by the prophetic voices of the sibyls, who give their name to the same mountains.

The project has been developed during a series of research residencies hosted by the Mahler & LeWitt Studios, beginning in 2022. Ceccherini, who first visited Spoleto as part of Lucy Orta’s ‘Art for the Environment’ program with the University of the Arts London, has collaborated with French textile designer and natural dyeing expert Maïté Oucèni to dye the wool needed for the tapestry. Oucèni, who was a resident at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios in 2022 in partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative and supported by the Carla Fendi Foundation, hosted a public workshop with Ceccherini and dyed the wool using woad, a blue pigment indigenous to Italy and harvested in Umbria until the global Indigo market took over.


Cecilia Ceccherini’s practice intersects crafts with conceptual art. She is interested in revealing the relations that humans entertain with other living beings through art practice and design. After graduating in Decorative Arts at the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts (Torino, Italy), in 2019, she completed an MA in Textile Design at the Chelsea College of Arts (London UK) where she specialised in weaving. There she began developing textiles and tapestries that, as everyday objects which also have sculptural and pictorial qualities, effectively combine her aesthetic and scientific approaches. She intersects her practice with art education, working with schools with a particular interest in collective and collaborative practices.

Alberto Valz Gris works at the intersection of urban geography and the visual arts. He holds an M.Sc. in Architecture (Politecnico di Torino), an MA in Fine Arts (Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam) and a PhD in economic and political geography (Politecnico di Torino). His leading research interest lies in the geographies of socionatural metabolism as a way to chart the diverse, complex and dynamic interactions between humans and the environment at the local and regional scale. His recent projects have explored the dynamics of natural resource extraction and the layered histories of infrastructural development drawing on fieldwork in different contexts, such as the boom of lithium extraction in the Atacama (Argentina and Chile) and the effects of port expansion in Piraeus (Greece). Combining theoretical reflection and on-field research into textual contributions and audiovisual productions, his practice as a geographer engages with critical analysis as an attempt to reinvent the relationships that humans entertain with their surrounding environment.

Henry Albert (Bethesda, 1989) is a screenwriter and filmmaker who works between Italy and the rest of the world. His work has always bridged writing and video, editorial and film. He trained in London in the newsroom of Monocle Magazine, before starting a freelance career between Turin, Milan and Berlin as a journalist, author and art director, collaborating with global media and brands. He has published articles and shot documentaries for various institutions and newspapers such as The New York Times, Monocle, Vice, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt. In 2020 he won the jury’s special mention at the Solinas Experimenta Serie Award; together with Santabelva, the collective of which he is a co-founder, he directed the feature-length documentary Corpo dei Giorni, winner of the Italian documentary section at the Turin Film Festival 2022.

Giulia Deval (Turin, 1993) is a singer and sound artist who works between experimental music and contemporary art. Her research spans through various formats such as concerts of imaginary characters, performance-lectures, audiovisual installations and workshop-based activities for voices and magnetic tapes set in science fiction scenarios. Her work has been presented across Europe and Mexico during artistic residencies, interdisciplinary projects and international tours. She released Terrapolis, an album for voice and magnetic tape inspired by Donna Haraway’s bestiary (ANS, 2020), Nepantleras (zOaR Records, 2022) as part of the duo XIPE together with Ivan Bringas, with the master by Elliott Sharp and Nicole / Overwhelmed by the Unexplained with alter ego Nino Gvilia (Hive Mind Records, 2024). She has been Invited Curator for Hangar’s Audio Formal program in Barcelona in 2021; she took part in Moondog Project together with the ensemble Lapsus Lumine in 2019 performing with Jim Black on drums and Ernst Reijseger on cello.

Guglielmo Diana (Turin, 1994), aka Dayana is a sound artist and sound designer. Graduated at the Jazz Music Conservatory and biennial alumni in Electronic Music, he works as composer and sound designer for performing, multimedia, installation and videogame arts. He teaches sound design at the IED in Turin and is a member of the contemporary music collective Pietra Tonale. He collaborated with Studio Fludd providing soundtracks for the interactive video installation for the Ca’ Select Museum in Venice for Montenegro. He created the sounds and music for Universe For Sale with Tmesis Studio and Akupara Games. He has collaborated with Piccola Compagnia della Magnolia, Michele Di Mauro, with the Teatro Stabile di Torino and with Marche Teatro.

Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi The Festival dei Due Mondi was founded by the opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958 and was one of the first multi-disciplinary arts festivals of its type. It quickly garnered international recognition for developing and promoting avant-garde art. It takes place in June and July each year and makes use of the numerous exhibition and performances venues boasted by the town of Spoleto – including the Teatro Romano, two opera houses, and several churches. The director of the festival is Monique Veaute. festivaldispoleto.com

Musei Civici di Spoleto Spoleto’s museum network offers a comprehensive overview of the historical- cultural heritage of the city and region, which has national and international significance. The director is Saverio Verini (formerly MACRO and Fondazione Memmo). There are ten museums under its remit. These include the Palazzo Collicola: an important collection of 20th century and contemporary visual art with works by Sol LeWitt, Alberto Burri, Beverly Pepper, Alexander Calder, among many others.

MUTECO – The Museum of Textile and Costume brings together artefacts from the 14th to the 20th century, many of which were collected by the textile historian Lucia Portoghesi. Among the Umbrian textiles are extraordinary early Perugian tablecloths, similar to those reproduced in paintings by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Ghirlandaio, and Giotto. The museum also includes important regal, religious and domestic from Italy and abroad.