Lavinia Raccanello is an Italian artist and activist now based in Glasgow (Scotland). Her work focuses on the relationship between human beings, society and social justice, with a particular emphasis on the power of dialectic and participatory practice, and the conflict between state power and personal autonomy and responsibility.
During her residency at Arc, Lavinia works on a project about Switzerland’s anarcho-pacifist tradition, investigating the life of the Swiss anarchist wood cut artist Alexandre Mairet (1880-1947). This ambitious project leads to an “experimental” publication designed for exchange and cross-curricular studies in art infusing with other disciplines that combines an educational and informative intent within an artist’s book.
Born in the Canton of Vaud, Mairet studied at the School of fine and Industrial Arts in Geneva and during the First World War he gravitated towards the anti-war circles animated by the French writer Romain Rolland that at the time was in exile in Geneva. Mairet was influenced by Frans Masereel, and created more than forty woodcuts for Louis Bertoni, the founder of Le Réveil Anarchiste in Geneva. These woodcuts were attacks on unemployment, capitalism, religion, law and war and illustrated barricades and demonstrations.
Starting from Frank Popper idea of engraving as “a privileged means of expression at a time of tension and upheaval” that allowed an “exceptional spreading of the influence of the work and a democratization of the art” Lavinia investigates how twentieth-century wood engraving became a reflection of freedom struggles.
For her 2017 residency Lavinia works together with CIRA's archive (Centre International de Recherches sur l’Anarchisme) in Lausannne, and Centro Studi Libertari - Archivio Giuseppe Pinelli in Milan. Strongly inspired by Bertoni, his public speeches, and his journal, and influenced by the books and the people she came across while spending time in the archives, she works on a new project inspired by the role of international anarchist cooperation during the years of Republic, Civil War and Francoism in Spain. With Anarchistes Lavinia particularly focuses on the stories of Italian and Swiss anarchists who travel to Spain in those years. Special attention is given to Italian, Swiss and Spanish women who at the time were not only fighting for a libertarian and egalitarian system, but who were also emancipating themselves from the patriarchal society.