Roccasecca Artist Lab

Concept for an interdisciplinary residency program on the theme "enlightement in the 21st century" in Roccasecca, home town St. Thomas of Acquinus on the occasion of his 800th birthday. The project was not selected for funding and could not yet be realised.



Roccasecca (Italy) - the small town with 7000 inhabitants between Naples and Rome that translates “Dry Rock” and is known to be the birthplace of St. Thomas of Aquinas. It's the 850th birthday of St. Thomas Aquinas in 2024/25 (his year of birth is not certain) and the 800th anniversary of his death on March 7, 2024. In this concept, we propose a cultural exchange, concluded with a public performance, the proposal is that eight artists from different disciplines gather for a three weeks residency in Roccasecca.


For the residence, we propose "Enlightenment in the 21st century” as thematic bracket.


Each invited artist prepares a 2-hour lecture on their work and its relation to the theme, followed by a 2 hours discussions the following day.
Keynote "Enlightenment in the 21st enctury, Global Cultural Exchange, Art and War" and talk with Ken Ludden (confirmed). The American choreographer, author, ballet master was a dancer in War Requiem and Histoire du Soldat. In 1989, he was invited to travel to Donetsk in the USSR to be the first American to choreograph original works in the Soviet Union as part of the first cultural exchange of the new policy of Glasnost and Perystoyka. Having an international career as a performer for two decades, and due to his close relationship with Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) he worked together with her for the final 12 years of her life to develop the educational program of The Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet, which he currently directs. Ken Ludden is also a scholar of Hungarian mysticism. He has been lecturing internationally for more than five decades.

Valentina Chianta (confirmed)
Cultural Commissioner and Vice Mayor of Roccasecca
Prof.essa Giuseppina Ianotta (confirmed)
Artistic Director Gazzeloni Music Festival
Tomasino Marsella (confirmed)
Cultural mediator and long-standing member of the local administration

WEEK 1 - 3
by a Video artist, Berlin
and sound artist, Düsseldorf
Commission to the duo to collaboratively develop a performance / installation / film / exhibition, inspired from the situation of the house, the context and theme -

Site-specific performance / exhibition with public invited.
Participating artists have the option to take part in this creative process or to show /exhibit work (previous works or new ideas) during the public performance of the commissioned performance / exhibition, which concludes the residency.

Status of the project

There is currently no funding or producer for the project. Applications had been handed in, the jury has not decided to support this project.

If you have any questions or are interested in an exchange or collaboration, please contact me here. Works on the project are currently on pause.

Photo / Video

Harvesting olives in Roccasecca in Frezza's olive yard behind the house.

Photos from Castello, birthplace of St. Thomas of Aquinas seen from Domenico Frezza's house (the old house where to do some of the Artist Lab), the Convent opposite Frezza's house, which could serve as performance place and Fossanova, where Aquinas died.



Pipo Tafel: “The invitation comes from Domenico Frezza, formerly Professor of genetics. He was born in Roccasecca and is a friend of my dad since they met in the 1950s. Domenico is visionary in his science, still researching new ways of using proteins for developing new medicines, and he is also a facilitator deeply rooted in culture and art. He had already hosted a symposium of poets in his family house and told me about his idea to have artists come to Roccasecca, perform there and make workshops. I proposed a residency: to host a group of artists in his place to gather, exchange, discuss themes and/or develop artistic concepts/ works to be created surrounded by the natural beauty and history Roccasecca generously offers. Domenico agreed - he offers his place, contacts, house and I produce the residency with David as artistic advisor.


We’ve looked closely at the range of residencies offered. With the wide range of art awards and scholarships on top of that, there is often the possibility or the condition to produce and exhibit something. This project positions itself as a hybrid in this context. A mix between encounters, possibilities of personal research and the option to interact with two commissioned artists for the creation of a new work or the presentation of an existing work. Closed panels with local administrators and activists as well as directors and artist talks of participants with local youth are part of the incentive to consider creating cultural networks with the rural area and the European partner. In 1943 Nazi Germany brought great suffering to the region in the battle of Cassino (only 27 km away), that cost over 100,000 lives. A Wehrmacht commando occupied Frezza’s house, and a bomb separated the buildings from each other forever. With Germany known to be “world export champion”, Roccasecca Artist Lab offers to bring artists into the house and town this time - instead of soldiers.


Digital media artist Pipo Tafel (Köln) is project leader and produces the residence. Long-time artistic collaborator, Australian composer and jazz musician David William, is the artistic advisor.


We welcome to have as much exchange as possible with the local community through

A) A site-specific exhibition / performance
B) Artist talks - we want to enable schools/ young persons to get in touch

with the internationally working artists participating in the lab.


1. Connect with civic commitment
2. German-Italian cultural exchange
3. Bring international artists to Roccasecca
4. Exchange with Italian networks and discuss collaborations
5. Provide performance and encounter opportunities to local communities and artists
6. Bring together contemporary artists of note in panel form to address societal and human issues facing the world today
7. Develop eco-friendly working opportunities for artists
8. Bring culture into rural regions
9. Conceptual development for a German Italian co-production
10. Exchange (artist talk), training and/or information opportunities for adolescents/ local students


Il castello opposite Domenico Frezza's house: birthplace of St. Thomas of Aquinas.