JazzAscona celebrates its 40th with Jazz Off The Wall

Yuri Catania at the Jazz Off The Wall, Biblioteca Popolare, JazzAscona

The largest street art exhibition dedicated to New Orleans jazz.

Preparations are underway in Ascona for the 40th edition of the JazzAscona, which will present no fewer than 300 concerts and special events from June 20th to 29th, with the participation of around fifty bands from New Orleans, Switzerland, and Europe. One of the defining events of this special edition will be the Jazz Off The Wall project, which is the largest street art exhibition dedicated to New Orleans jazz and is curated by the internationally renowned artist Yuri Catania. The project kicked off on March 28th with the inauguration of the first artwork, created on the façade of the Biblioteca Popolare with the help of schoolchildren from Ascona.

To celebrate the 40 years of the JazzAscona Festival, the village of Ascona will embrace street art this summer with an open-air exhibition – likely the largest ever dedicated to jazz – that will unfold through the streets of the historic village. Titled “Jazz Off The Wall”, the exhibition will feature around forty murals created by Yuri Catania, an Italian-Swiss artist based in Rovio, Mendrisio, known for his extra-large photographic works on public and private buildings. The works will have an ephemeral nature. The technique used is paste-up, applying photographs printed on paper to walls with special glue.

Artist Yuri Catania at "Jazz Off The Wall" during the JazzAscona

The artistic project originated in New Orleans with Catania’s series of photographs depicting musicians connected to the history of JazzAscona and typical tropical flowers found in the city on the Mississippi, then arriving on the shores of Lake Maggiore, where the artist photographed the flowers of the Parco delle Camelie in Locarno. The exhibition, which also includes some snapshots taken in Ascona by Catania and other photographers who have worked for the festival in the past, features a series of photographic works of various sizes and surreal traits, where musicians appear immersed in the colorful subtropical vegetation of New Orleans and the varied vegetation of Ascona, with typical flowers and plants from the lake shores.

On March 28th, in Ascona, in the presence of Mayor Luca Pissoglio, JazzAscona President Guido Casparis, artist Yuri Catania, and a delegation of children from the Ascona School Institute who participated in the installation’s cutting works, the first artwork on the front wall of the Municipal Library was inaugurated, effectively opening the implementation phase of “Jazz Off The Wall.” However, it will take two months (May and June) for all forty works to be completed by Catania on the walls of the village of Ascona, and from June 20th, the festival’s start date, it will be possible to experience the complete exhibition in a multisensory journey that unfolds between art, jazz music, and technology, as thanks to augmented reality, through the ArtiVive app, each installation will reveal extra content with photos and videos to be viewed through one’s smartphone.

The Catania’s exhibition, like all his public works, is created participatively involving people of all ages. Those who wish to participate in the creation of murals in May and June, with various manual activities such as cutting and pasting, are invited to sign up through the JazzAscona website; just one hour of your time is enough to contribute to the creation of a work together with the artist.

Involvement of the public in the preparation of Yuri Catania's "Jazz Off The Wall" exhibition

On June 22nd, during the Festival, the Jazz Off The Wall exhibition will also open in the rooms on the first floor of the Museo comunale di Arte Moderna Ascona, which will be visible until September 1st, 2024. On display, Catania presents the portrait photography taken in New Orleans, the compositions that dialogue with the mentioned portraits, the local architecture and flora, up to an intentionally unfinished street art piece to give visitors to the Museum the opportunity to complete it together with the artist.

With “Jazz Off The Wall,” the aim was to mark the 40th anniversary of JazzAscona with a visually impactful project, emphasizing not only the bonds created through the jazz festival with the sister city of New Orleans but also giving substance to Ascona’s vocation as a village that values the work of artists, culture, and contemporary art. This blend is also underscored by the Museum’s participation in the project, which is particularly significant considering its inclusive and collective dimension, involving schools and the local population in the realization of the exhibition.

The president of the festival, Guido Casparis, adds: “Jazz Off The Wall” is an initiative we wanted to highlight the first 40 years of the most iconic event in the village. This exhibition seemed to us an interesting way to enhance the beauty of Ascona, involve people in a fun and playful way, attract the attention of the public and the media, creating interest several months before the event. It will likely have a significant tourist impact and give prominence to the festival itself, whose beating heart remains, of course, the music.”

Ph: Yuri Catania Studio

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