Shooting at the sky

Shooting at the sky. Witch hunt and weather control, video, 16’32”, 2021

 For centuries, farmers in Austria shot consecrated guns at storms in attempts to dispel them. Some guns were loaded with nails, ostensibly to kill the witches ridding in the clouds –J. R. Fleming “Fixing the sky”

Shooting at the sky is now part of ON AIR – a collaborative project on (the) air, on atmosphere, on environment, on breathing, curated by Juan Pablo Macías and Alessandra Poggianti for Carico Massimo.

Shooting at the Sky combines a series of facts and quotations into a narrative, along with visual research completed in disparate archives, gathered after reading J. R. Fleming’s revealing sentence. Starting in fact with the custom of shooting at clouds in an attempt to strike at witches, believed to be responsible for bad weather, a series of facts and images are woven into the video regarding ways of waging war on the sky and governing its elements, and the hunt for witches, who were also burned at the stake for their alleged ability to control the atmosphere. Along with mythologies that still die hard today (evoked by the story of the witch of Cengles with which the video begins and ends, found on a tourist brochure), stories and confessions extracted by torture or threat in trials are mixed with the use of fire in attempts to control the sky; from hail cannons or rockets (cannonading the sky to chase away hail), to concussionists’ gunpowder (firing at the sky to generate rain), to cloud seeding, from its beginnings in General Electric laboratories, to its military and strategic applications by governments and now routinely practiced in more than 47 countries.

Narrator: Lara Francesca Bertoli