Children of Unquiet: the video

In this film Mikhail Karikis orchestrates a children’s ‘take over’ of an uninhabited workers’ village in Italy centering on the children’s aural and physical interventions. The work features forty-five children who are growing up around a deserted industrial village, abandoned by their parents after the complete automation of the local geothermal power plant where they all worked. The site is in the Devil’s Valley in Tuscany, known for inspiring the hellish descriptions of Dante’s Inferno and for being the place where the first sustainable energy power plant in the world was built. In Karikis’s video, youngsters between five and twelve years old seize the depopulated sites transforming the vaporous wasteland into a self-organised school and a playground. Their ‘take over’ takes different forms across the three chapters of the film and treats the voice and language in different ways. In the first chapter the children present an aural portrait of the place where they are growing up by imitating the sounds of their surroundings: that is through onomatopoeic play with the powerful subterranean rumbles and factory drones in the area. In the following chapter they congregate in the Modernist ruins to read and dis-articulate philosophical texts by Toni Nergi & Michael Hardt about production, the industriousness of bees and love, while the closing chapter bursts with the noise of play and laughter as the children storm into the deserted village.

At sites like the geothermal valley where Children of Unquiet is located, cracks on the surface of the earth bring us so close to the gigantic forces operating inside our planet that we witness an immensity which is indifferent to the temporal dynamics of economics and capitalist demands for quick profit. The children’s speculative and playful interventions and their concert with their natural and industrial surroundings generate the opportunity for individual and communal expression, challenging narratives of a failed human project and evoking different possible, desired or imagined futures.

Produced by Radio Papesse, Florence.