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UNIDEE - University of Ideas


The Revolution of the Gaze. Inside the Visible, to grasp the Invisible module mentored by Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio with Luigi Fassi

Cittadellarte Edizioni, 2018 ISBN: 978-88-98698-05-9 This booklet is part of the series of publications “UNIDEE NOTEBOOKS�. It has been realised by gathering ideas, images, impressions, thoughts and discussions from mentors, guests and participants during the modules. Curated and designed by Annalisa Zegna Under the supervision of Cecilia Guida Translations: Elena Pasquali

Cover image: Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, Looking for luminita, installation. Credits: Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio.

UNIDEE - University of Ideas 2017 Weekly residential module n.6


The Revolution of the Gaze. Inside the Visible, to grasp the Invisible

mentors: Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio guest: Luigi Fassi participants: Lisa Andreani Roberto Nino Betancourt Zlatolin Donchev Soheil Ghari Anne-Loyse Jacques Anna Massimo Stefan Milosavljevic Giacomo Pederiva

10 July / 14 July, 2017

Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella


The module “The Revolution of the Gaze. Inside the Visible, to grasp the Invisible� is a survey on the spaces of tension and connection between two apparently distant dimensions within the artistic gesture: the political one and the spiritual one. The field that is investigated is that of the cinema, and documentary in particular, meant in its various manifestations and formalisations, which is by definition a cinema that glances at reality and brings back a new vision of it, renewed. We look into the documentary practice, that makes the contact with the reality that one wants to film, the first step towards the creation of a communal act (therefore political). Over the traditional approach of the film on something, the privileged practices are those that already see during filming an exchange with someone. The man, in this role-play, is at the centre of the gaze. His gestures, his body, his soul. The module deals with those cases in which the artist leaves traces of the process of knowledge in the final product, so that the viewer can fill in the gaps with his own experience, as well as the black holes, the questions that the work leaves. The second field of exchange is, therefore, the one established during the movie watching, which makes continuous dialogue and creates a shared memory. Each one takes home a piece of that reality which, made his own and reworked, can then dialogue with the reality of others. In this last, but not final, step there is perhaps the field of tension and combination of the political dimension with the spiritual one. The documentary film, removing someone or something from invisibility and projecting it on the memory of the viewers, takes on a responsibility that belongs to all: to the artist, to the same

spectator, to the new community that has been created. The main objective of the module is to create a discussion around the documentary, its ethical boundaries and expressive possibilities. The module lays the groundwork for real projects of documentary films, which glance at the reality around Cittadellarte and through which the participants feel part of a collective creative process of the investigation of reality. The secondary objective of the module is to provide the tools to deal consciously with the work of the documentary film.

TOPICS/ TAGS Revolution, gaze, cinema, documentary film, invisible, reality, mediation, collective process, community, local history, aesthetics, ethics, narrative, individual, society.


___________________________________ JULY 10TH morning Guided tour to Cittadellarte (Curated by Elena Rosina), including the Pistoletto, Arte Povera collections and temporary exhibitions. Introduction to the Theorem of Trinamics, the symbol of the Third Paradise and the concept of Demopraxy. afternoon Discussion about some methods of approach to reality: observation and immersion. Discussion and collective analysis of excerpts from movies. Hypothesis of a field of research: what and how to observe reality around us? The case study of Biella as an example of stratification and plot between history of industry, history of migrations, human and environmental landscape. ___________________________________ JULY 11TH morning Collective brainstorming as method for a “first draft�. We discuss possible ideas regarding a documentary to be made. First visit to the surrounding area: the history, the stories. The relationship between individuals and society. Where to focus attention. The choice of point of view (aesthetic and ethical)



Collective discussion about the first visit. Division into working groups. Screening and discussion about film excerpts which relate individual consciousness with the collective one.

Screening and discussion about film excerpts of “opened documentaries”. Focus on the projects of the different groups: to give a “feeling” to your own project, towards the definition and shaping of different ideas.

___________________________________ JULY 12TH morning Deeper brainstorming within the individual working groups. The choice of the best subject to represent the idea. Second visit: the encounter with the reality to film as a central moment of exchange. Choice of characters: the human at the core of the work. afternoon Further collective discussion with a second moment of writing. The hypothesis of a narrative structure. The documentary way “exploded” in space: to think about reality as a fragmented narrative, physical, in progress. The relationship between art and cinema of reality. Guest: Luigi Fassi.

___________________________________ JULY 14TH morning The various groups are asked to divide tasks internally, and thus create a new community: the film director, the collaborators, the subjects to be filmed. First shooting. To cross your own idea with the soul of the filmed subject while filming. To look for something which is not seen. afternoon

___________________________________ JULY 13TH

Watching of video footage and collective discussion. Hypothesis of a final structure: the reality, forced within the cage of framing and montage, paradoxically finds its freedom again and tells us about something else, something beyond the same reality. Screening and collective discussion of some of the works of Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio.



Third visit: Audiovisual notes. The importance of losing your own point of view. Collective watching and discussion of material gathered from the visit: writing, video, photos. The process of knowledge of reality as the fundament for an “opened documentary”.



The mentors prepared a reader for the participants with key texts, some of which are discussed during the week.


- Bill Nichols, Introduzione al documentario, Milano, Il Castoro, 2014. - Guy Gauthier, Storia e pratiche del documentario, Torino, Lindau, 2009. - Sergio Toffetti (curated by), La scoperta dell’altrove, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2010. - Jean-Luc Nancy, Abbas Kiarostami. L’evidenza del film, Roma, Donzelli Editore, 2004. - Alberto Barbera, Elisa Resegotti (curated by), Kiarostami, Milano, Mondandori Electa, 2007.

Participants’ introduction: backgrounds, interests and dreams.

Some references and films we spoke about: * Brothers Lumiere, La Sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon, 1895; L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, 1896. * Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, 1929. * Michelangelo Antonioni, Chung Kuo, Cina, 1972. Documentary on the lives of contemporary working class Chinese people. It focuses on people’s faces. * Chris Marker, La Jetée, 1962; Sans Soleil, 1983.

* Ed Pincus, Diaries: 1971-1976, (1981). “Personal documentary”. * Abbas Kiarostami, Close-Up, 1990; Taste of Cherry, 1997; The Wind Will Carry Us, 1999. * Luc Besson, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, 1999. * Rithy Panh, Cambodge, entre guerre et paix, 1991. * Alain Resnais, Toute la mémoire du monde, 1956.

* Jonas Mekas. * Pier Paolo Pasolini.

* Alain Cavalier, Thérèse, 1986. A film about the life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

* Wang Bing, West of the Tracks, 2003. Documentary about industrial China and the Tiexi district.

* Tsai Ming-liang, The River, 1997; Face, 2009; Stray dogs, 2013.

We discussed about vision, the visible, gaze and blindness. Both the observer and the filmmaker are blind. The process of documentary practice relates to the idea of showing something that is invisible, that we cannot see. We brainstormed about the documentary practice, and how it relates to reality. It means being with reality.

More references: Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, University of Chicago Press, 1993. Derrida explores issues of vision, blindness, self-representation, and their relation to drawing. For Derrida, drawing is itself blind; as an act rooted in memory and anticipation, drawing necessarily replaces one way of seeing (direct) with another (mediated).

Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio presented some of their works related to their life and direct experience about reality: Tanatologia, 14 maggio 1958, 2006. Ensi e Shade, 2006. Lezioni di arabo, 2005. Looking for Luminita, 2012. Un ritorno, 2013.

In 2012 they founded Il Piccolo Cinema, a company of mutual aid for cinema (societĂ di mutuo soccorso cinematografico), in Turin. www.gmdeserio.com

Lecture by the guest Luigi Fassi.

Luigi Fassi analysed different ways of articulating the documentary practice, through some examples.

- Nicolò Degiorgis - Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi - Clemens von Wedemeyer

As an artist, how can you be engaged with historical and social topics?

We discussed about the importance of the first encounter with the reality we want to film. There are different possible approaches, and they are all important for a complete vision. Some of these consist in focusing on the human presence and activity, the contemplation of the place, the historical and cultural research on the place itself. The process of research is always complex and multi-layered, it is a matter of BEING WITH REALITY.

Speaking about the first inspection, the first encounter with the city of Biella (which is like a first “crash”): some of us went together to the old part of the city, others went into the forest, far from the civilized environment.  We found a lot of empty buildings, empty factories, abandoned places.

In regards to different moods and approaches of filming reality, we mentioned two objects: the flame and the crystal. These are two metaphorical images representing the different kinds of gaze you can have in a documentary and cinematography practice.

On one side, the flame: the fluidity of transition, the poetic flow of images, like a river and nature; on the other side, the crystal: a structure, a plot, a specific contest with all its features and complex social and cultural aspects.

From the walk around Biella, interesting elements emerged, such as a few human characters met by the participants, the river Cervo and Piazza del Monte, a square in the Riva neighbourhood where there are a playground and a basketball court, and where people usually meet.

Working process. Analysis and discussion about different aspects and ways to continue the process together. Divided into 3 groups: 1 - nature 2 - human 3 - inbetween Plan: Write a script

... to find a tool to let the playground speak for itself ...

... you need a sentence, a direction, in order to lose yourself ...

How to find the idea? What is a script?

“I went down to the river and listened to its story I saw it written in the wool” “First there was unspoilt Nature dominated by the River Then Man came and transformed the Landscape around the River Man cut down trees and contaminated Nature Nature destroyed what Man had built Man tried to rebuild what the River had taken away Traces of the Past remains as ruins Life goes on” “I saw abandoned factories an abandoned river What is the role of the playground?” “To leave the sign of an honest transition” “My ball has fallen into the river...”

We discussed about the presence of the river, in the present and past history of the territory. The idea was to play with the river to build a plot, a structure for a documentary about Biella, about a little part of life of the city. “River plays� The ball is a metaphor of the script: an object which helps create a story, a narration, an image for the plot of the film.

The three groups worked and shot following their different attitudes and interests, all linked together. Closed down factories, wool production, history of migration, crisis, contemporary empty spaces, the river, the social landscape, the geography, the connection with the past, people in Biella, their feelings, their personal stories, etc. Thanks to Mr. Nigel Thompson, we went deeper into the wool production process, specifically in the selection and quality check of the wool. We visited his warehouse, at Lanificio Botto in Miagliano, a little village near Biella. He told us his story, how he came to Biella more than twenty years ago and how he reinvented himself and his work in 2009.

Working hard on post-production and editing of the materials for the final presentation. They are just short ideas and experiments, the most important thing is the collective process which we entered together.

The three final videos show three different paths, three ‘condensates’ of our short travel, three attempts to look for the reality.

On Revolution, Desire, Mediation. A short interview with Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio.

1. In 2017, UNIDEE - University of Ideas programme has proposed an interdisciplinary approach to examine three macro-themes which are central to contemporary socialpolitical debates: Revolution, Desire, Mediation. UNIDEE’s director Cecilia Guida has invited you to present a weekly educational module on these key words, with a strong interaction between critical theory in the social sphere and participatory art practices. How does your artistic practice relate to contemporary forms of protest in regards to the concept of revolution? MDS: I think that art, when endowed with an aesthetic and ethic coherence, relates to a continual proposal of change of gaze rather than to a protest. The proposal, often an attempt, a shot in the dark, is a gesture, a gesture of both the glance and the physical and social body. You can therefore talk about revolution not so much for its ideological aspect, as for the attempt far from conceptual of changing the glance, the prossemic of the body and what surrounds us. GDS: The history of humanity can be read as a sequence of revolutions, you study the moments in which something happens, the transitional periods, not the ones when nothing happens. Today, everything seems to be continually happening, but I think that in reality everything is still. That’s why artists are considered artists when they manage to stop the gaze, to contemplate revolution, which an oxymoronic and contradicting concept. Everybody assumes the right to change something, but maybe something has to be saved, non in the conservative sense of the word, but as existing rather than only evolving. MDS: I believe that the artistic gesture – when genuine and coherent, not

reflecting on itself and not aiming at being a link in the economic chain, but rather escaping this dynamics to open a lateral perspective – can contemplate revolutions, which also means seeing their criticalities. I was reading about the chaos of these months in Venezuela, you can find different interpretations of what is happening, but violence generates more violence, it is almost impossible to take sides in front of violence. In this sense art is anti-violence, it escapes from the violent revolutionary gesture. The contemplation Gianluca was talking about is a passive act in this context, not revolutionary as a direct action but in its preserving the peace, relations possibly problematic, but not violent. GDS: As far as our work is concerned, which deals with cinema and the gaze, the visual and the visible, it is important to be able to see all that is revolutionary, that is what allows us to have a different point of view on the world, but still has to be driven out of the surface. I’m thinking about the marginal and interstitial communities, hidden and not seen, already labelled with prejudices and stereotypes, prerogative of politics and propaganda. In this sense, being artists working with the visual and making things visible, we have a huge responsibility to trace new paths, and this can be revolutionary, being aware of living in a mainly visual world. In its interrelating, art takes part in the revolutionary practice. MDS: Art, deprived of misleading structures, can be revolutionary inasmuch as it is an extremely childish form of human expression, linked to playing, like life. The artists are players, playing with their own lives, questioning themselves and the context, without adapting but moulding their games and escaping

the routine. 2. Thinking about desire, in the sense of movement towards someone or something that is missing, what is its role within the framework of your art practice? MDS: Desire is a central element of our practice. I personally remember experiencing a big sentimental and educational crisis. I was in Paris, I was wandering like a ghost in a spectral place, the Palais de Tokyo. While I was roaming as if performing myself, I met a lady, we started talking and I opened up to her, telling her about my crisis. She said: “Remember that anything you do and will do is not an artistic practice if it’s not moved by a deep desire”. And that moment springs to mind every time I deal with desire in the sense of eros, spoiled of any sexual connotation. There is always a force driving us to work with others, an energy which belongs to the sphere of desire. And this is fundamental in order to avoid finding ourselves in a proposition ending in itself and letting art implode outside life. Art is life for us, and the desire must be central. GDS: Desire implies a lack of something, and, as artists and twins, we feel that lack, we miss each other. Life, for everybody, is an attempt to recreate an originally existing whole. Thinking about our practice as artists, we might have decided to work together in an attempt to rejoin and reconnect with one another. We even worked on this, undergoing hypnosis to regress to the maternal womb. The desire is mainly to reconnect with one another. But there is also a strong desire to be with many other people, the troupe, our collaborators and friends going back a long way, we have opened Il Piccolo Cinema, a

place gathering hundreds of people every week. There is always a driving force fed by the lack of something and the desire to recreate a connection with the others. Our films are always pervaded by this desire to reconnect with the reality surrounding us and with the spectators, who take home a little fragment. MDS: Hillman used to say that in order to radically change you own gaze you need to fall in love. These tension and desire are a love that causes us to change. 3. How did your practice as artists and mentors mediate and translate reality in the case of UNIDEE’s module? MDS: I think that mediation has been a gradual process in the course of this UNIDEE module. We didn’t know the group, and we still don’t claim to know them, but this unfamiliarity led us to take a journey together. The journey, which implies a progress from no knowledge to a higher level of knowledge, is a process towards reality. In the first days, we tried to debate and see other examples of “translation of the reality into something else, film or installation”, we spoke a lot about the point of view, and we tried to include it in the collective context, which is a challenge... GDS: ... a challenge which paradoxically denies the concept itself of the point of view. In giving importance to more and different points of view, you actually focus on the act itself of seeing and not on who’s seeing. MDS: ... and therefore reality itself gets mediated, transformed, spoken,

discussed, conveyed, translated, reproduced, and in the collective debate reality stays the same, and that’s a good thing. At the end we came out of this golden shell, this citadel, to meet reality. The whole process of knowledge of this reality, even if summary and brief because of the time limit, allowed us to get closer to reality and contemplate it, rather than realize a film or a final object. GDS: I disagree, reality might not stay the same. I am thinking, as an example, about an encounter we had a few days ago: an old lady told us about the CGIL [a national trade union], she migrated from Veneto in 1951 and was active in the workers’ unions in the ‘60s and ‘70s, she used to work in a factory, and now votes Lega Nord. At the end of our chat, we involved her in an improvised dance with a “foreigner”, one of the ones she had just inveighed against. This was a mere ironic game, but it shows how the contact of the artist with reality generates small shifts, both in who sees and in who is seen. The waltz the old lady shared with Roberto, a Colombian boy, is central to the issue: the filmed reality and who films it are the same thing. MDS: It happened with Zlatolin too, who started building the wall with the Romanian youths he was filming. We are ourselves at the centre of our own gaze.

GIANLUCA AND MASSIMILIANO DE SERIO Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, twins, made their debut with the feature-lenght film Sette opere di misericordia (2011), presented in the international competition at the Locarno Film Festival. I ricordi del fiume (2015) was premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The protagonists of their works, both in movies and installations, are uprooted identities or collective and interstitial identities, within a hybrid path of staging, memory and performance. Among the awards: Don Quixote Award, the Locarno Film Festival; Prix du Jury Meilleure Mise en Scene, Festival of Marrakech; Best Movie, Journées du Cinéma Italien, Nice; Grand Prix Annecy Cinéma Italien; Prize “Navicella” Cinema Italiano; nomination for Nastro d’Argento and David di Donatello; Special Prize at Premio Italia Arte Contemporanea. Among the exhibitions: Whitechapel; Castello di Rivoli; Documenta 13; Fondazione Sandretto; Fondazione Merz; Para/Site, Hong Kong; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Hovikkoden; Istanbul Modern; City Gallery, Wellington; Fundacion Proa, Buenos Aires; Belgrade Cultural Centre; Neue Berliner Kunstverein; MAXXI, Rome; Annet Genlink Gallery, Amsterdam; Participant Inc. New York; Manifesta7; Museo del Novecento,

Milan; MACRO, Rome; GAM, Torino; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv. Among the works: I ricordi del fiume, Sette opere di misericordia, Bakroman, L’Esame di Xhodi, Un ritorno, Esecuzione, Looking for Luminita, Stanze, Bakroman, No fire zone.


Luigi Fassi has been since 2012 visual arts curator at the Steirischer Herbst Festival in Graz, Austria. He has curated exhibitions for different institutions internationally, including Kunsthalle Helsinki, Finland; Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden; Museo Marino Marini, Florence, Italy; GAM-Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland; ISCP, New York, US; Prague Biennale, Prague, Czech Republic. A Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum ISP in New York. In 2008, he was director of the ar/ge kunst Kunstverein in Bolzano (2009– 12), where he organised different solo and group exhibitions including Runo Lagomarsino, Chto Delat?, Katarina Zdjelar, Alejandro Cesarco and William E. Jones. From 2010 to 2016 he coordinated and curated “Present Future” at Artissima, a platform presenting soloshows by globally emerging artists. He is a contributor to Mousse Magazine and Camera Austria has been commissioned different texts for catalogues and books for Alfredo Jaar, Danh Vo, Roman Ondak, João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva, Diango Hernandéz, and others. In 2016 he has been a fellow of the Artis Research Trip Program in Tel Aviv and curator of the XVI Quadriennale in Rome, Italy.

About Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto Cittadellarte’s aim is to inspire and produce a responsible change in society through ideas and creative projects. Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto was instituted in 1998 as a concrete action of the Progetto Arte Manifesto, where Michelangelo Pistoletto proposed a new role for the artist: that of placing art in direct interaction with all the areas of human activity which form society. Cittadellarte is dedicated to the study, experimentation and development of practices translating the symbol of the Third Paradise* into realty, implying it into every sector of society. It is a great laboratory, hosting many young artists, which generates unedited processes of development in diverse fields of culture, production, economics and politics. Cittadellarte is a vibrant international network of cultural and social innovators, individuals actively interlaced with their social contexts where they often act as catalyst of change. The interrelationship between people and projects is based on a common vision whose roots lie in an accumulative thought&practice process, developed by a wide range of thinkers, managers, innovators of all field. Pistoletto’s work, from the 60s to today, acts as a pumping brain for Cittadellarte’s communities. Cittadellarte has developed an extensive networks of collaborations with Institutions (various United Nations Agencies, Ministries, Universities and Educational Organizations) global enterprises and local businesses, civil society collectives, organizations and individuals from all fields.

* “The symbol of the Third Paradise, a reconfiguration of the mathematical infinity sign, is made of three consecutive circles. The two external circles represent all the diversities and antinomies, among which nature and artifice. The central one is given by the compenetration of the opposite circles and represents the generative womb of a new humanity”. Michelangelo Pistoletto www.cittadellarte.it www.terzoparadiso.org

About UNIDEE University of Ideas UNIDEE - University of Ideas is a higher educational programme based on a weekly modular format investigating the relationship among visual arts, public sphere and activism by combining critical theory with practice. Through residential dynamics, UNIDEE is designed to form artivators, people who intend to use art as a methodology, practice and language, in order to become agents for the activation of responsible actions and processes in the territories in which they live and carry out their professional activities. For its third year, and with a long history of residency programmes for international students (2000-2013) behind it, the new UNIDEE format proposes for the year 2017 a close examination of three macro-themes: Revolution, Desire and Mediation.

UNIDEE - University of Ideas 2017 Programme directed and curated by Cecilia Guida With the collaboration of Juan Sandoval Under the supervision of Paolo Naldini Programme Coordinator: Clara Tosetti Assistant Director: Annalisa Zegna

@unideeuniversityofideas unidee_universityofideas @unidee_universityofideas @_unidee unideevideo


UNIDEE - University of Ideas is made possible thanks to the support of: Patrons

Piedmont Region; Compagnia di San Paolo; Creative Europe programme of the EU; CRT Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Torino; Fondazione Zegna; illycaffè S.p.A.

Production Residency Collaborations & Scholarships RESÒ Network; A.M. Qattan Foundation (PS); Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation (IN).

Institutional Collaborations & Scholarships

ZKM Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (D); kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Rīga (LV); Minister of Culture of the Republic of Albania (AL); National Gallery of Kosovo (RS); Jyvaskylan Yliopisto, Jyväskylä (FIN); Austrian Culture Forum Moscow (RUS); École cantonale d’art du Valais – ECAV, Sierre (CH); Fundación Universitaria Bellas Artes, Medellín (CO); Instituto Superior de Arte-ISA, La Habana (CU); École supérieure d’art et design – ESAD, Grenoble (FR); Università degli Studi di Torino (IT); Università IUAV, Venice (IT); Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan (IT); Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma (IT); Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze (IT); ISIA-Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche di Faenza (IT); IULM-Istituto Universitario di Lingue Moderne, Milan (IT); SACI Studio Art Centers International, Florence (IT); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice (IT); Queens Museum, New York (US); Center for Fine Arts (Bozar), Brussels (B); Galeria Sztuki Wspolczesnej Bunkier Sztuki, Krakòw (PL); HYDRO, Biella (IT); Ordine degli Architetti Pianificatori Paesaggisti e Conservatori della Provincia di Biella (IT).

Media Partners

Giornale delle Fondazioni; Roots&Routes.

Profile for Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto

UNIDEE NOTEBOOKS 2017 | n. 6  

The Revolution of the Gaze. Inside the Visible, to grasp the Invisible module mentored by Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio with Luigi Fass...

UNIDEE NOTEBOOKS 2017 | n. 6  

The Revolution of the Gaze. Inside the Visible, to grasp the Invisible module mentored by Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio with Luigi Fass...


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