DISPLAY #2 The Price for Fire


The Price for Fire

An exhibition by Rossella Nisio

In collaboration with Lorenzo Bassanelli / Organized by Sara Rajaei & Elian Somers

Het Wilde Weten / Robert Fruinstraat 35 / Rotterdam

Opening: Friday Nov 5, 18:00h*
Open: Saturday Nov 6, Sunday Nov 7, Friday Nov 12, Saturday Nov 13, 14:00h – 20:00h

Open by appointment: Monday Nov 8 – Thursday Nov 11, 16:00h – 20:00h

Message Rossella Nisio: r.nisio@mail.com


*Het Wilde Weten follows the current corona measures. To attend the opening on Friday a valid proof of vaccination or negative test (QR code) is required.

The Price for Fire

In the afternoon of December 21, 1976, an accident shakes the torpid city of R, the artist’s hometown: a young man of 28 is killed when, ignited by faulty electric wiring, a can of paint thinner in his room catches fire. The accident was only succinctly reported in local and left-wing newspapers, but was deeply felt by the politically involved youth of R. The young man, M, was known as an activist and intellectual within a number of far-left groups. A proponent of spontaneous social action, he had been an adherent of the workers’ movements that had emerged in 1968. Born after World War II in a stifling provincial environment where no substantial change seemed possible, M held hopes of social upheaval, but ultimately wouldn’t survive the turn of the historical tide. Behind the engaged public persona however, M had entrusted his inner disillusionment and anguish to an alter-ego, whom he named “drifter,” subject of a number of poems he wrote. The poems, together with elements from the last years of his life, shape the core of The Price for Fire.

Through the elusive figure of M and the meandering eye of the camera, The Price for Fire explores narratives of unrest and resistance from an intimate perspective. Reconciling the popular, invigorating notion of hope used in a social context with what Pier Paolo Pasolini branded a “horrid word,” The Price for Fire unfolds as a play for two voices meeting at the threshold between expectation and grief. Bridging collective and individual experiences of what became known as the Sessantotto in Italy, the work considers questions that era left open.

The Price for Fire was developed in collaboration with Lorenzo Bassanelli, and features the participation of Benjamin Akira Tallamy and Katherine Drake. It was made with the support of the Tijl Fonds and the Mondriaan Fonds.

Rossella Nisio is an artist based in Rotterdam whose work has a strong focus on the relationship of history, memory and imagination. She has a background in the theory of cinema and performing arts at the University of Roma Tre (DAMS); she pursued a practical training in photography at Ar.Co in Lisbon. In 2019 she earned an MA in Fine Art and Design at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. A recipient of the Mondriaan Fonds’ Emerging Talent Stipendium, her works have been shown in festivals as the Rencontres Internationales in Paris and Berlin, the Go Short International Short Film Festival in Nijmegen, IndieLisboa in Lisbon, and are included in the collection of the EYE Film Institute. She is a resident artist at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 2021-22.

The Price for Fire is part of the public program DISPLAY initiated by Het Wilde Weten. The DISPLAY program is kindly supported by the Mondriaan Fonds. With special thanks to Summer Lee for the poster design.