“The open call to take part launched by the Dergano district was an invitation to young people with different skills, competences, sensitivities and aptitudes to form an empathic educating community together with artists.
The goal is to build skills in the creative field for the production of a video performance that will involve the inhabitants of the neighbourhood around the Last Supper.”
Anna Detheridge, President of Connecting Cultures
Cenacolo Live! begins with an open call to join in a participatory artistic project, culminating in a live cinema performance inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.
The open call led to the selection of 15 young people between 18 and 30 years old, resident in or frequenting the Dergano district in Milan, with interests and skills in the performing arts. The group engaged in a six-month training course headed by the Connecting Cultures Foundation with the artistic direction of Film-Live Association, a collective of artists engaged in research and training projects on audiovisual techniques with a participatory approach.
The meeting of the group with the Last Supper was the most exciting phase of the project.
Two exclusive visits were organised to the Museum of Leonardo’s Last Supper, guided by the director of the Regional Directorate of Lombardy Museums, Emanuela Daffra. This experience, in addition to their historical-artistic knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci’s work in Milan, stimulated the young participants to create new narrative content to enhance the value of the museum heritage.
From May to June 2022, on the premises of Nuova Armenia in the Dergano neighbourhood, the young people of Cenacolo Live! were involved in a series of creative workshops at which they discussed the themes, significance and purpose of artistic mediation in the dialogue between the museum and the community.
The participants in the workshops were introduced to live cinematography for the production of a choral work of translation and reinterpretation of The Last Supper in a contemporary key.
The artists Chiara Ligi and Mattia Costa of Film-Live actively involved the participants in expressing themselves and collaborating in the performance, identifying the issues to be addressed and contributing to the creation of the performance as well as taking part in the production, set design and filming.
Attendance at the workshops and participation in the production of the final performance was remunerated, recognising the value of the commitment and the cultural work carried out.
Inspired by the Cene Spregiudicate organised by Nuova Armenia, the convivial meetings of Cenacolo Live! were fundamental occasions for exchanges with the community in Dergano. Food was interpreted as the starting point in a collective dialogue around the themes of The Last Supper, which led to the discussion of topics and the creation of stories, each with its own title:
That moment when time stopped.
Something imminent that I can’t control.
If I went back, what wouldn’t I do.
The courage I didn’t have.
The voices and dialogues that took place during the two suppers were recorded and later became the soundtrack that accompanied the final performance and the video work.
Cenacolo Live! is a collective artwork created together by the participants and the community of Dergano. The subject of the film, shot live, was projected onto the big screen of Nuova Armenia in an interplay of real and virtual references between the space at 9 Via Livigno and the Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The viewers saw a live motion picture show set to the hypnotic crescendo of a soundtrack played live by the musicians of the group Gatto Ciliegia contro il Grande Freddo.
Through a long piano sequence, Cenacolo Live! broke through the boundaries of the screen and brought the audience of Nuova Armenia to the museum of Leonardo’s masterpiece, before the sacredness of The Last Supper. They then returned to Nuova Armenia, gathering around the remains of a meal on a table that brought together, ideally and sculpturally, the entire community created around Cenacolo Live!: the participants, the partners and the whole audience.
Cenacolo Live! is the first work of contemporary art acquired by the Museo del Cenacolo Vinciano.
The final video, curated by Film-Live, was presented at the Sala della Passione in Brera on the occasion of Museocity, in the presence of Marco Minoja (Director of Culture Municipality of Milan), Emanuela Daffra (Regional Director of Lombardy Museums), Silvia Zanzani (Director of the Museum of Leonardo’s Last Supper).
The presentation illustrated the whole course of the film’s creation and production: from the analysis of Leonardo's work to experimental workshops on the techniques and languages of live filmmaking, the definition of contemporary themes inscribed in the work, the organisation of community suppers, and the production of a live cinema performance.
Cenacolo Live! is available to visitors to the Museum’s website as an additional tool for enjoying and understanding Leonardo’s Last Supper, so enriching the information about the painting.
Ermanno Olmi Comprehensive Institute – Maffucci Middle School
Cenacolo Live! was the start of a second peer-to-peer workshop phase for schools in the Dergano district, where young participants in creative workshops became in their turn the tutors.
During spring 2023 a workshop of six encounters was held at the Maffucci Secondary School. In collaboration with some teachers, the second grade students of the Art class were involved, with the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece conducted by exceptional teachers.
In this way the tutors of Cenacolo Live! were put to the test, analysing the various themes that revolve around The Last Supper with the students and reworking them through the performing arts and new media.