Sensing Naples Artist Q&A | DYSPLA

Sensing Naples Artist Q&A | DYSPLA

DYSPLA is an art studio run by neurodivergent artists Lennie Varvarides and Kazimir Bielecki. An award-winning writer and director, Lennie loves experimental, multi-disciplinary work that incorporates installations, immersive theatre and moving image work to sculpt the space. Kazimer is an award winning neurodivergent artist who creates moving image and installation work with a strong narrative of social conscience and equality.

They have come to Compton Verney to create a sensational installation in response to our newly displayed Naples Gallery. DYSPLA are one of two artists commissioned in partnership with disability arts platform Unlimited to create new works for the gallery that both reference the historic collection and open up new ways of engaging the senses. DYSPLA’s artwork responds to Lorenzo Vaccaro’s sculptures, ‘The Four Continents’ and includes hand-numbered, limited edition artworks on paper that visitors can take home with them as well as a powerful, audio performance piece.

We met with DYSPLA before the opening of Sensing Naples and the unveiling of their new artwork to discuss their inspiration, creative process, accessibility and more. Continue reading to find out more.

Annelise Hone, Head of Collections, cleaning one of the paintings from the Naples Gallery during the redisplay.

What interested and inspired you about Compton Verney and the Naples collection to create your artwork?

Lennie: When Kazimer came to see the gallery, he called me after he saw the Vaccaro sculptures and said we have to do this. It fit in really well with what we’ve wanted to work on for a while; for example: as digital artists we wanted to find out how to create something that is a sculpture but is still digital. Also, during lockdown, Kazimer had been experimenting with AR and I wanted to start telling more female led stories both of which could be explored in response to these sculptures.

‘The Four Continents’ by Lorenzo Vaccaro (1655–1706) being removed from display during the redisplay of Sensing Naples in March 2023.

Can you talk a bit about your creative process and how the exhibition space shaped your concept and work?

Lennie: From the performance side, I set up a writing group formed of women from colonised countries across the globe and we all shared our experiences including mine as a first generation Cypriot, born in London to immigrant parents. I found that narratives about immigration to the UK tended to focus on what was gained rather than what was lost as individuals and I wanted to expand that conversation as all of the women felt they had lost something on account of trying to fit into where they are now. Four of the women from this group are in our final piece.

Lennie: The sculptural side of our artwork had many rebirths and what we have now is a sculpture realised through a stack of paper that sits the same height as the historical sculptures but it has the sculpture printed onto this form and it is made up of individual artworks that visitors can take with them, representing loss and colonisation today through data.

Kazimer: We wanted to make the story of colonisation relevant today through data and identity rather than through land and labour.

‘The Four Continents’ by Lorenzo Vaccaro (1655–1706) on display in the newly finished Sensing Naples Gallery, April 2023.

How did you make your installation as accessible as possible?

Kazimer: Our priority was not to make our artwork as accessible as possible but to create an artwork that we as disabled artists liked, which is an important part of accessibility for artists. This is a controversial standpoint but I think it is impossible to make an artwork that is accessible to absolutely everyone and if you try to, you won’t be true to your own artistic vision. For example, some people need to experience artwork in complete silence while others need to move around the space and engage all of their senses.

Lennie: At the same time, our artwork becomes accessible because we let our senses lead the work we created and actively thought about how many senses could we could engage at once. Therefore, visitors can choose to engage with artwork in as many ways as they can or feel comfortable doing.

‘The Four Continents’ by Lorenzo Vaccaro (1655–1706) on display in the newly finished Sensing Naples Gallery, April 2023.

How do you think your work will interact with DYSPLA’s in the space?

Lennie: I hope that they will both encourage touch. I think that both of our artworks’ emphasis on touch breaks down that barrier for visitors and hopefully make people not scared to engage with our artworks through touch.

What do you hope visitors will take away with them after experiencing your installation?

Lennie: There are many ways to engage with the artwork and I hope people will do so in as many ways as they can but also by taking a piece of the artwork home with them. Each of the 7,000 pieces of paper that form our sculpture, have been individually hand-numbered and I hope that visitors will take them home and frame them as that is how they have been designed. However, I have to be prepared that this is not how everyone may choose to engage with the artwork and that is part of the symbolism itself, how everyone chooses to respond to and respect the piece.

Come and experience DYSPLA’s installation for yourself at Sensing Naples, open 10:30am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday or visit last week’s blog for the Q&A with Sensing Naples artist Arron McPeake!