HOW ETHICAL IS CHANGE IF NOT JUST POETIC?

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FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON AGRICULTURE & ART

After so many hours of thoughts and rivers of words, now it’s time for the facts!
I feel already scared and overwhelmed by the prospect of a possible failure but confide in the excitement and in the ‘adrenalinic’ vision to create something good. From personal experience I know the great beneficial impact that artists’ residency programmes had on my art making process as well as on my growth as a person and an artist.

Still I cannot help to wonder:
Will our resources: passion and land, be enough?
Will our intentions find a fertile ground?
Will Casa didun make an impact on a resiliant community?

Will anybody support our venture? 

Can art help us to re-acknowledge the worth of nature and convince us to invest our love back into its ‘heavenly’ fruits including ourselves?

In my periods of doubts, when not much seems to make sense and even art appears to be trivial, I find comfort in the thought of becoming a farmer.
That lulling image feels like a refuge to me. In that sanctuary I feel protected, a happy self sufficient farmer that lives off the land and off the fulfillment that comes to be nature’s closest collaborator.

I see my self as a farmer that seeds and harvest the land even if I am just making art!

CASA DIDUN: LA FATTORIA DIDATTICA



FROM THE CONCRETE TO THE EPHEMERAL
Most local people here in Dolcedo still prefer figurative and highly aesthetic art, maybe because that’s what they know best and therefore recognize art only in a materialistic and figurative manifestation.
A Sculpture Park dedicated to agriculture that likewise nature will regenerate itself in time and space is what Monica has in mind. The goal is to offer a welcoming and accessible place of exchange between artists and local community.
The creation of an ‘AGRICULTURAL ART PARK’ on Monica’s grounds seems to be the most effective solution as a first introduction into contemporary visual art.
We hope that an accessible, nearby physical presence of artworks could gradually contribute to fully grasp and appreciate the vital functions of art as a way towards betterment of people and society.
The Agricultural Art Park should be a tangible and physical proof of cultural advancement that can facilitate awareness and therefore positive change.
A vital part of this programme is to actively involve the local schools as well as other educational institutions from the main town of Imperia. We are convinced that it is important to expose the new generations and provide them with the opportunity to be part of a greater circuit and of a thought- provoking discourse that could spark at their door mats and echo out in the world.
FROM THE CONCRETE TO THE EPHEMERAL AND BACK
 From agriculture, to art, to collaboration: CASA DIDUN: LA FATTORIA DIDATTICA

WILL WE BE UP TO SUCH AMBITIOUS PLAN?
ARE GOOD INTENTIONS AND PASSION ENOUGH TO PULL THROUGH AND MAKE IT IN ITALY?
WILL WE SUCCED?
THE CHALLENGE IS OUT THERE, FOR US, FOR DOLCEDO, FOR ALL ARTISTS OUT THERE AND FOR ITALY!
In the end it will be another experience to learn from and to prove that whatever happens, one has to try first in order to find out. So I keep reminding myself  that the least I can do is try!

WHY CASA DIDUN: THE MOTIVES BEHIND

To this point I have been trying to introduce you to the area and the space giving a general and simplistic outline of the cultural and social background. There is much more to be said about this place, but then again it’s also up to you to discover it and see it in your own light and not just through my ‘distorted’ personal impressions.

Nevertheless I think it is important for you to understand the motivations behind this project. Partly I have them already interwoven in the past pages writing.
I only hope I have not constructed a big confusing mishmash of geography, locations, people, history, culture, social and economics realities. They are all indeed tightly connected whilst continuously affecting one another. In my view, they can only make sense if all together in a painterly manner. A ‘chiaroscuro’ of positive-negative meanings, where each line and each colour informs the whole.

I will try to be brief and direct in illustrating those motivations the best I can so that you can get a more complete picture.

Although less than an hour drive from two airprots: Nice and Genoa, and easily accessible from Turin, Milan and Pisa airports, this part of region is controversially beautifully isolated. I am not sure if purposely avoided, maybe forgotten but surely overlooked by contemporary culture other than TV and the mass-media. Art, here, in its many new and updated forms, has definitely been left out if not ignored.

Through our friendship and thanks to an open minded attitude and an intelligent curiosity, Monica has been able to understand and appreciate contemporary art. Her eclectic personality has allowed her to widen her interests and horizons all the way to art!  Passing through foreigner artists have also partly contributed to her art education.
It’s also worth mentioning Donna Lee Corboy, a very talented New Zealander artist that after travelling the world as a theatre performer has now reinveted herself here in Dolcedo as a photographer and video artists. Donna has settled in Dolcedo several years ago now, and working hard in trying to expose the locals to all art forms, especially dance, music and photography.

Monica has always had visionary desires. Her dream to open up the people of Dolcedo to the world, to widen their closed mentality while being respectful and sensitive to their backgrounds, can maybe be achieved through art!

Development and evolution of her original ‘agriturismo’ business has been a stimulating factor, but Monica’s natural inclination is to share, and to share the proud treasures of Dolcedo with the world is her proud dream. 

Since the birth of her two daughters: Tea and Sophie, Monica has gardually understood, becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of the role of art and culture in society. I believe her new responsibility as a mother has been a decisive factor for her to view art not anymore as a passive, decorative accessory but as an active agent in life instead.

Now her dream is not anymore just about the future of her village but something much more personal and direct: the future of her girls! Of course both are interdependent and linked together in the end.

I think Monica’s gist is a gift to her children as well as to the community.
How sad and boring for the pupils that live in this part of the world to attend schools were art is considered a secondary, minor subject and therefore barely tackled. How sad to deprive the future generations of a very important aspect of life: the creative one, the one that informs our souls.

To declare your self an artist in Italy especially in villages like Dolcedo is still a bit of a joke that nobody gets how serious it is!

So here they are, the main motivations that have led to this collaboration between art and agriculture.

The strategy of this programme is not to shock nor enforce art on the community but to gently guide them into it instead. The goal is to slowly convince them of its advantages and to make them fall in a loving and lasting relationship.


HOW TO APPLY TO CASA DIDUN


Soon there will be a special page dedicated to the artists’ residency programme on: 
http://www.casadidun.com/  
and were all the guidelines on how to apply will be listed on.
In the meantime I am posting them here as well in case you are already interested in applying for 2013!

If that is the case:
Please send your 
– letter of intent (one page) with a brief outline of your idea or 
– project-proposal, INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION ARE VERY WELCOME 
– period availability: your preference out of November, January, February or March 
– 10 images of previous work 
– CV: and updated resumé
send everything in one single PDF formatted document to this email address: casadidun@yahoo.it
IMPORANT:  the subject of your email should say: ARTE&AGRICOLTURA

YOUR APPLICATION SHOULD BE WRITTEN EITHER IN ITALIAN OR ENGLISH

Artists are invited to leave proof of their time spent at the residency. 

Please check previous posts to find out more about the residency.

ARTISTS’ RESIDENCY GUIDELINES

Ideally a loose and open structure that functions on trust, good intentions and the word of mouth would be the right spirit for this project. Nevertheless it needs a little bit of structure if not only as guide line to the future applicants.

CASA DIDUN OFFERS:

– FREE ACCOMMODATION:
 two-bedroom flats (see pics in previous blog’s pages) to be shared with a maximum of four artists.

– NO UTILITIES BILLS:
electricity, water, gas and internet bills are all covered by the Programme.

– WELCOMING AND GOODBY DINNER

– ARTISTS RESIDENCY PERIODS:
   November- January- February- March

– IN EXCHANGE WITH: 
YOUR INTERACTION WITH THE LAND‘ 
Your involvement in this project for creatively dwelling on the subjects of ART & AGRICULTURE  and on how Art and Agriculture can collaborate together to create a better awareness for the future.
The aim is to create a sculpture park dedicated to agriculture, so if you feel like leaving your mark, your effort would be greatly appreciated and welcomed.
Hopefully this venture will succeed in benefiting many artists as well as the the local community.



A START

Here we go, I have finished preparing the bamboo canes and now I am ready to set them up!
This is a kind of warming up exercise to build the momentum for the final piece in the green house.
I will start with 65 bamboo canes from the sea by the river Prino outlet and then make my way up to the greenhouse with hopefully 1000 bamboo canes.
                                                                                 The first stage of the Bamboo canes itinerary
65 plastic bags attached with fishing line to 65 bamboo canes set by the river mouth Prino. 
The river flows into this beach, it was sad to see the waste piping emerging out tying the river to the sea.

The title for this piece is:
‘HOOKED AND NOT GOING ANYWHERE’

Setting up the piece was altogether a pleasant experience.

I like how the work sprung up so unexpected.  Out of nowhere and sudden, surprising everybody on the beach. Few people openly welcomed and appreciated the novelty. One tourist couple from Milan were very supportive and interested, likewise was another gentleman who kindly recuperated out of the water one of my bags that flew away while another couple was just wacthing from the distance on the other end of the beach. A local fisherman with its kids just passed by trying to ignore what was happening. I am not sure if they were too surprised, intimidated or not interested at all. I was too busy setting up to ask.
I also had to deal with a bit of a problem. When the wind started really picking up it blasted off some of my bags, snapping the string off and making me run all over the beach to chase my bags back for the delight of the restaurant customers across the river who were enjoying a double bill spectacle, quite an entertainment! Another lesson learned though the type of fishing line I used to secure the bags was too thin.

I was a bit disappointed that the images don’t fully represent the poetic beauty of the work. The sun was too bright to take better pictures and because of that troubling fishing line that was letting me down. I could not leave my work until sunset time when the light would have been better.
Hopefully the video footage I took will be better!

CASA DIDUN: PICS OF THE ACCOMMODATION

……so, this tissue of land that is sandwiched between the Mediterranean sea and the Alps, and that bridges France to Tuscany, needs art!

Tucked away in the between, this stretch is in any way not french and yet a bit a-part from Italy’s main boot body. Each side about to let go in what feels a farewell hug before heading off and slide into a new cultural landscape: La Provence.
The ‘Provençal’ County: Nice was in fact detached from Italy in 1860 during a trade exchange between Napoleon III and Cavour. Across the new border these two separated bits re-introduce each other at the ‘Ponente Ligure’.

Ligurians character reflect the difficult and narrow stiffness of their land’s geography: closed, tight minded, reticent and reluctant to open up

While other regions like Piemonte, Tuscany or Lombardia are slowly broadening their cultural views and in that process are enhancing their traditions, Ligurians are kind of stuck into they corner, anchored to their hermetic customs.

It is my impression that this part of the world is in desperate need for some art, I say!

If you like to take part to this programme here are few pics of what will welcome you.

This is the house where you will reside. Franco made it!
It’s divided in two charming two-bedrooms flats, one on top of the other. Each can accommodate 2 artists, let’s have a tour!

The house overlooks the swimming pool and the village of Isolalunga.

Behind this big bush is the entrance of the ground-floor flat

…….while these steps take you to the entrance of first floor flat.

Here are pics of the bottom floor flat:

                                                         The kitchen

                   
Sitting room

          Bedroom 1

                                                       

                                                         Bedroom 2

Shared Bathroom

And back outside

……and under the wines to get to the greenhouse, I love this spot!

ALCHEMY FILM FESTIVAL 2012

My video work ‘Caught in a Shell’ has been selected to be screened at this year’s Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival 2012‏, An event curated by Richard Ashrowen.

The event is filled with interesting and exciting new video works from around the world. A dense programme, packed with delicious treats. I cannot wait to be part of it, this year also in person. It looks like a  promising and rewarding weekend and I am looking forward to the feast. Check it out, it runs October 26-27-28
Invitation to Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival 2012‏

The programme for Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival is now alive!
Held in the Scottish Borders, this year's festival spans three days,
beginning on the morning of Friday 26th October, through to Sunday
28th October, at Tower Mill, Heart of Hawick. Our theme is 'Traversing
the Wild' and we'll be showing a wonderful array of features,
experimental film and moving image art. Do please let me know if you
can come, as I should like to welcome you personally.

The programme has just been launched and can be found in full here:

http://www.alchemyfilmfestival.org.uk/
Or download a print-friendly version of the programme here:
http://www.alchemyfilmfestival.org.uk/2012/2012-festival-programme/


FEATURES:
-'Swandown' - Andrew Kotting's wonderfully eccentric swan pedalo
travelogue (Scottish premiere).
-'Impressions' - an astonishing impressionist journey, introduced by
moving image artist Jacques Perconte (UK premiere). 
-'Two Years at Sea' - the award winning debut feature from Ben Rivers.

-'Re-Formation' - ‘A seductive and furious film essay’ by dutch
artist Jeanette Groenendaal (UK premiere).
-'Janadhaar' - set in India’s Garwhal Himalaya, by Jade Ajani and
David Meek (European premiere)
-'Patience (After Sebald)', a multi-layered film essay by the
acclaimed filmmaker Grant Gee.
-'As Above, So Below', a tale of material transmutation by Sarah J.

Christman (UK premiere).


SPECIAL SCREENING EVENTS:
- 'Fugitive Beauty' - the films of Robert Cahen, one of the most

important and influential video artists of our generation (Scottish
premiere). Robert Cahen will be in attendance and his films will be
introduced and discussed by the artist and writer Chris Meigh Andrews.

- 'sin∞fin The Movie #3' by VestAndPage and 'Jusque-là' by Enrique
Ramirez, a double bill of artist films, each involving aspects of
performance art on film, followed by a special discussion with the
filmmakers, plus performance artists Claudia Borgna and Sandra
Johnston.

- 'Celebrating Hawick Common Rising' - including the premiere of the
specially commissioned film, Kick Oan, by Borders filmmaker Catriona
Taylor.

- 'William Johnstone Film Walk' - a battery powered screening in a
remote bothy, showing two films about the work of Borders artist
William Johnstone, with a special talk by Ken Duffy and Alexander
Hamilton.


- 'Digital Jungle Boogie' - an experimental live jam of punk-poetry,
improvised music and immersive, site-specific video art, by

Edinburgh's video LaB and special guests. 
SHORT FILM PROGRAMMES:

- 'Wilder Moves' - short films foregrounding the human body in
movement through the landscape, with works by Kika Nicolela (Brazil),
Plan B / Katrina McPherson (UK), Jonathan Inksetter (Canada), Claudia
Borgna (UK), Jac Min (Singapore), Irene Loughlin & Naufus
Ramirez-Figueroa (Canada) and Rachel Sweeney (UK).

- 'Fictive Landscapes' - short films in which landscapes permeate
their narratives, with works by Dean Kavanagh (Ireland), Gonzalo
Egurza (Argentina), Alasdair Bayne (UK), Shaun Hughes (UK) and Enrique
Verdugo (UK/Chile).

- 'Traversing the Wild 1' - including two special 16mm screenings,
with works by Nick Collins (UK), Emilie Crewe (Canada), Mihai Grecu
(France), SJ. Ramir (New Zealand), Maike Zimmermann (UK), Davor
Sanvincenti (Croatia) and Robert Todd (USA).

- 'Traversing the Wild 2' - including two special 16mm screenings,
with works by Robert Todd (USA), Sheri Wills (USA), Leneweit &
Rodriguez (Germany), Sean Martin (UK), Lori Felker (USA), Sam
Spreckley (UK), Fabienne Gautier (France), Tarrl Lightowler (USA),

Alexander Isaenko (Ukraine) and Chris Kennedy (USA). 

THE SCREENING ROOM:

- 'Wilder Moves' - short films foregrounding the human body in
movement through the landscape, with works by Kika Nicolela (Brazil),
Plan B / Katrina McPherson (UK), Jonathan Inksetter (Canada), Claudia
Borgna (UK), Jac Min (Singapore), Irene Loughlin & Naufus
Ramirez-Figueroa (Canada) and Rachel Sweeney (UK).

- 'Fictive Landscapes' - short films in which landscapes permeate
their narratives, with works by Dean Kavanagh (Ireland), Gonzalo
Egurza (Argentina), Alasdair Bayne (UK), Shaun Hughes (UK) and Enrique
Verdugo (UK/Chile).

- 'Traversing the Wild 1' - including two special 16mm screenings,
with works by Nick Collins (UK), Emilie Crewe (Canada), Mihai Grecu
(France), SJ. Ramir (New Zealand), Maike Zimmermann (UK), Davor
Sanvincenti (Croatia) and Robert Todd (USA).

- 'Traversing the Wild 2' - including two special 16mm screenings,
with works by Robert Todd (USA), Sheri Wills (USA), Leneweit &
Rodriguez (Germany), Sean Martin (UK), Lori Felker (USA), Sam
Spreckley (UK), Fabienne Gautier (France), Tarrl Lightowler (USA),
Alexander Isaenko (Ukraine) and Chris Kennedy (USA).


MOVING IMAGE INSTALLATIONS:

There will be moving image installations in smaller venues around the
town, including projects by Ryan Jennings Clark (USA), Pat Law (UK),
Claire Pencak and James Wyness (UK).


LA RIVIERA DEI FIORI: A LANDSCAPE CONSTRUCTED WITH GREENHOUSES

‘Il ponente ligure’, the western part of Liguria where Casa Didun is located, is also called: ‘La riviera dei fiori’, which translates into ‘the flowers’ riviera’ — an evocative poetic name to celebrate one of the area’s main industries: Flowers!
In this ending chunk of a croissant shaped region, an army of green houses climb up and down the laddered terraces, ruthlessly invading the narrow strip of land. From this edge of the rainbow curve a spread of glass constructions glares off the hills, their presence blinding that romantic image for which its name, ‘riviera dei fiori’, calls for!
‘Le serre’, how they are named here, randomly stretch from the hills to the sea. They create a rather curious, chaotic architectural ensemble that makes me only glad that they are made out of glass and not cement. Like my friend Ilia would say: “it could have been worse!”. The natural landscape could have been polluted by the ruthless property speculation, as it has in most parts of Liguria!

Listening to Monica I understand that many of these ‘serre’ are slowly emtping out and voiding themselves of any function. The shifts of economic interests and the fear of hard manual work, has turned them into an unappealing business. The result is that these deserted and ghostly vegetable barracks are now passive protagonists in a western desolated landscape: a destiny awaiting other places, like Peru’ for example, where the world’s flower production has momentary moved to.

Monica feels that her ‘serra’ should not go wasted. The potential for such spaces are many therefore they have to be repurposed to contain new ideas.

In this context the green house is representative of an era. They symbolized the regional process of industrialization of agriculture. Like my plastic bags, these green houses embody both positive and negative connotations and link into a series of contradictions. If on one side they epitomize men’s avid dependence on consumerism on the other they suggest a positive compromise between modern society and nature.
Definitely they stand as another step in italians evolutionary journey, another experience to learn from and to keep in mind when tuning the future into a more harmonious balance.

The ‘serre’ are there, they exist, part of an intricate pattern: the social, economic, political cultural inheritance of this region. They are now rooted into the history of this land. Should we not try to make the most out of them? Should we not turn them into a new beneficial opportunity instead?
Just as I have been transforming my plastic bags, Monica will transform the purpose of her greenhouse to set an example.

In the light of modernity, Monica and I see agriculture as one fulfilling and satisfactory solution to resuscitate a fundamental aspect of Italy that is full with evergreen flavors to be savoured with a combo of refreshing fair awareness and ancient consciousness.
Agriculture being the foundation of humanity should be the revised protagonist to spark a vital network of healthy, creative, honest and ethical productivity.
Maybe we have become oblivious of the fact that agriculture is what links us to what has created us, to what support us, to what feed us: nature.

It is time for Italy to gracefully ‘capitalize’ on the past: on its historic experiences. It’s time to finally put in practice the learnings in order to calibrate a myriads of successes with centuries of mistakes. It’s time to plot a new route to trace a fair course for everybody. It’s time to draw a line in order to re-align our relationship with nature and with ourselves.

The process of urbanization first, followed by the one of ‘suburbification’ have contaged healthy italian communities distracting them, like the rest of the world, from the essential.
The excitement for growth, for the new, for advancement and experimentation has been an infectious elixir for all. The flow of this concoction has caused a new phenomenon. It is what I call the phenomenon of ‘fence-fixation’. A spell that has made us our own jailers as well as prisoners of an unhealthy system that is killing us.

The act of owning, the need for possession, the concept of property are the main causes of this conflict as it implies the dominion over nature.

The once vibrant Italian neighbourhood communities have now their inhabitants locked into their isolation, hostages of a trivial system that has suppressed true passions and real needs, captive of the functions of economic appearances instead.

An act of love is what ‘Italy’ really needs to feed its new generations with. How to love themselves – ourselves, through the love of nature should be the new motto.

Individualistic economics cannot rule our lives and cannot blind us from our passions. It’s time to let our true inclination run free and re-discover our innate skills for caring and develop them instead. Maybe then we can really fulfill our insatiable italian egos. But this time with the pleasures that come with doing good in the interest of the greater. The love for ourself is tied to the love for the others that is inevitably linked to nature.

What has happen to that beautiful Italian communal spirit that the whole western world has ridiculed while secretly envying it? Right now it seems lost inside an empty hybrid, barricaded behind some fence. A sad place where the mere accumulation of individualistic politicians has priority on the spread of wealth to the entire community.

Hopefully Tea and Sophie will be able to discover their true gifts and passions and to cultivate them in the interest of a fulfilled society, where good intentions are recognized and can grow to become real.
Will Italy be able to facilitate such vital service?

We don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children (native american say), and while we discuss, nature acts (Voltaire).