Rome, Italy – Just before sunset on July 3, 2015, a performance piece began on the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the town of Nettuno, south of Rome. For A(mare) Conchiglie, Rome-based artists Kyrahm and Julius Kaiser set a long table in the water and invited elderly Italian and recent African migrants to share their stories over a meal. The artists read poems throughout the performance.

A(mare) Conchiglie remains relevant at a time when the migrant crisis continues to worsen. This project is an example of one way that artists are sharing and opening up conversations about migration. As the Western world struggles with the complexities of the Syrian refugee crisis, this project continues to inspire dialogue.

With their performance, Kyrahm and Julius Kaiser draw a connection between the experiences of Italian migrants of the past and African migrants of the present: “we shall never forget that a hundred years ago the Italian migrants were those who drowned in the sea during their desperate trips to America.” More recently, overcrowded boats from Libya led to hundreds of drownings, including the loss of 800 lives in a single shipwreck last April. As of early June, over 50,000 migrants had come to Italy by boat this year.

The title A(mare) Conchiglie translates as “Sea Shells” and is also a play on words, suggesting that the stories shared are like shells (“conchiglie”) from the sea (“mare”) that are bitter (“amare”) and to be loved (“amare”).

A(mare) Conchiglie is part of the fifth Biennale d’Arte Contemporanea di Anzio e Nettuno. Titled “Bon Appétit,” this year’s edition takes food as its theme.

The short film below documents the performance piece:

Written by staff of Public Art Review.

Featured during the print run of Public Art Review #53, where this article appeared online only as “‘(A)mare Conchiglie’ by Kyrahm and Julius Kaiser.”