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The short life of Casa Didun Artists Greenhouse Residency

Excitement, hope, joy, fear, sadness, frustration, disappointment, surprise, gratefulness are the overwhelming emotions that have crossed this short lived project. Have I jinxed it with my apprehension? Has failure mirrored my anxieties? Were they a premonition that forecasted failure? Or was it a too naive and impulsive enterprise?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the word abortion but felt it too strong to use in this context. Yet, that is how it feels to abruptly terminate the hopes and potentials of an idea. A fetus that was just about to take form and sprout. All the elements seemed right, the stars all aligned and sending their encouragement. Many hours of work and dedication invested to chase that vision, but then fate changed its mind after all.

The psychological aftermath of failure has left its dark vacuum. For the past days I have engaged with the most depressing and humiliating task: erase everything, including all the wonderful interest that this project had already received so far.

By the way, a public big fat thank you to you all!

If dissembling a project is not as gratifying as creating it, I am coming to terms that in this case it is a very helpful if not necessary phase to process grief.

If you have received this email (below), here is a better analysis of what happened, just carry on reading

Dear artist and art community,

It is with much regret that I have to officially inform you that the Artists Greenhouse residency project has been cancelled.

A series of circumstances that are beyond my control have presented the impossibility to pursue this dream.

I can only assure you that on my behalf the intensions were most serious and that in these past months I have invested all my passion and energy in trying to set a programme up that I believe had great potential and could have benefitted many artists as well as the local community.

It is heartbreaking to see such a good opportunity slip by especially when so many of you had already demonstrated great interest and support for this maybe too naive and impulsive venture. The intentions were good and honest ones, I think I can talk on behalf of Monica Orengo as well.

As an artists myself I feel the weight of the responsibility that comes with art and art making and can only trust in your understanding for I hope that I have not wasted your time nor have negatively changed the way you view my work.

I would like to apologize if I have caused any inconvenience, that is a very distressful thought to me which I bear as part of my learning process.

wishing you all the very best


While I am at loss and full of doubts about myself, I try to exercise, the best I can, my deepest empathy towards Monica and be respectful as well as understanding of her wishes and needs. Her family being a priority leaves little room for anything else right now. This is one reason that has determined the abrupt ending of our project.

The other factor was the intensity of my rhythms. I fear I might have frightened Monica off with my ardor, killing the project and scaring Monica off art altogether!

It is really hard for me to once again observe how people over here don’t understand the responsibility of art and therefore don’t appreciate how much dedication, energy, passion and time get invested in that process. It really hurts, but then again it’s an arrogant assumption on my part to say that they need art in their lives! Does Dolcedo, Monica and her kids really need art after all? My presumption says yes! How would their life be better? I don’t know.

All these questions have sparked a chain of thoughts and questions that I will never be able to answer. How would my life be without art? Would it be worse? Better? Different? How? Would I be a better person if I had a family and kids? And so on and on and on……

It is so frustrating not to be able to fully grasp important matters. The only things I know is that I am privileged to do what I love and be fretting on such issues!

What I perceive is Monica’s desire to expand her horizons even to art. Unfortunately it is hard to do so in local mainstream mentality, a place where annihilation is easier than to satisfy such ‘exotic’ appetites! Once again Nature is the rescuer of restless souls like us. So we rely on our  beautiful safety net, our common denominator.

I suspect that the underlining friction of our venture, is that I of course don’t fully comprehend how it feels to be a parent and Monica doesn’t understand how it is to be a fully committed artist!

Naturally we all are different with different life priorities. In our case we might have had different visions and ambitions that we were not able to communicate well enough.

Monica had a more relaxed and laid back concept of our project. Step by step and at times an artist would visit, spend a holiday at her property and leave an artwork behind. 

Despite Monica’s generous offer and all my passion and time invested it was humanly impossible to materialize our idea just by ourself, especially at my burning pace!

Even though Monica’s artists’ residency concept is not so much my cup of tea, definitely not a programme I would like to attend, it could have grown had I not killed it.

Very much I would have needed a guide to lead me through a much slower and reassuring working process. My hectic self could not envision that something like this can happen without employing great energy and work.

How to get artists over here? How to motivate them to come over and do interesting works? How to involve the community of Dolcedo? How to convince the local administrations? How to make the most of it all?

Clearly I don’t understand the concept of art and holiday so much. I feel that artists and the communities deserve better. It’s important they feel proud to be part of something greater that promises growth potential and that with their work and presence they are actively contributing to its development.

I think it was our duty to provide food to trigger original ideas generated by the unique scenario we were offering. The local community would have benefitted of that energy and be either directly or indirectly involved. Maybe it was all too ambitious on my part. Still both the community and the artists need a nourishing environment to shine in.

So much for slowing down and slow process. On top of everything else I have also managed to defeat my credo and worked at inhuman corporate city rhythms instead, only for free though! But hey, what’s new?!

I am very far off the ideal of slow living that I preach and aspire for. I am not sure if my germanic genes or my passion are to blame. 

For sure I have been programmed this way by my family and by society, a reality that makes me very angry. How dare they imposing that on me? 

I have been programmed to be productive and as much as I try it is difficult to slow down especially when you love something! Now, how contradictory is that again?!

All along I felt the pressure of time to get the project engine rolling before next summer: my next big deadline. 

I thought that giving it a big push was the right thing to do. I had to test out the situation limits, push all boundaries, but I burned away any other possibility to let the project grow instead.

This is the only way I know how to work, to make an impact and not loose momentum: keep pushing but eventually pushing away too.

Ultimately I wonder if  I could have prevented this failure by being more patient, less enthusiastic and by letting things unfold at a slower pace. This will be my dilemma to work on in the future.

As you know I have been sharing and documenting the artists greenhouse residency project from its very beginning. I feel it is important to do so until its end. Hence the initial title: ‘all by my self: creation and destruction’ I feel I have done it all! Now I carry that burden, all nicely packed inside my suitcases.

The amazing support I have received after sending out the general cancellation email was just surprising. It has lighten up the weight of grieving.

Maybe the day I have accomplished my MFA, (the reason I might be leaving for two years next summer) hopefully wiser this time, I will find another greenhouse to resuscitate this project and invite you all to participate again.

I am already super duper excited at the idea. You and all the other people who have shown so much encouraging interest and support make me want to pursue this venture maybe when time is not strangling the possibility to develop. Maybe Monica by then will also have more time to spare. For sure this idea could have not developed without her and Giacomo’s greenhouse.

…..but who knows what will be next other than good intentions and hard work…………

THE END (of Casa Didun artists’ greenhouse residency)That's the plan

About Claudia Borgna

Claudia Borgna artist


  1. Bridget ⋅

    Ahh, I’m sad for you Claudia… And Monica. I feel I understand the two sides well. Parenting is so demanding and passion is a furnace…
    something beautiful will come of it all… You’ll see.
    X Bridget

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