James Richards. Hallucinatory Visions and Discarded Stories

Invited to present a work for the museum’s digital platform, James Richards creates Alms for the Birds (Remix for Cosmo Digitale) a version derived from the installation previously presented at the Castello di Rivoli in February, curated by Marianna Vecellio.
In contrast to the original version, Alms for the Birds (For Cosmo Digitale) loses its environmental and immersive dimension to focus on a more narrative, diegetic experience, focused on marked dramatic art and musical impact.

The artist introduces his work: Alms for the birds was conceived to be shown in the Hall Of The Sleeping Putti.
One of the historic rooms of the Castello di Rivoli, and also known as the kings bedchamber: it is said that Vittorio Amedeo II (1666 – 1732) was held prisoner in this room by his son Carlo Emanuele III in the years before his death.

The bedroom and its antechamber are painted with luscious fantastical figures. Harpies, winged trumpeters as well as virtues and the sleeping Putti, are depicted. Decorations rendered as a celebration of nobility and kingly sumptuousness.

However after abdicating, and then one year later changing his mind, the old king Vittorio Amedeo was incarcerated in this room by his son Carlo Emanuele III. He was forced to stay there by guard at the door and food and care was administered by nuns.

Formally an embodiment his grandure, the bedroom thus becomes the site for his forced incarceration and eventual demise with Vittorio Amedeo living there for the last ten years of his life.

In Alms for the birds the chambers are redrawn and manipulated in a sequence of still images.
Mixed into the sequence are images of birds, cages and oil painting from the collection Francesco Federico Cerutti.

Nature has started to encroach, – the once locked window has come ajar and dirty snow has piled into the bedroom. The swirling frescos blend with images of birds and wintery trees.
Sone walls become horizonless sky. Inside and outside, stillness and motion, the living and the dead. Once occupied and now abandoned, the hall and its antechamber appear in the work as a threshold between two worlds.