ancient trade and culture
An encounter with ancient crafts, and the meeting of arts and nature
This is a great iron and stone structure built around two large courtyards, connected by a stone wall that creates an enclosed garden:
the higher courtyard is a marketplace of ancient artisan trades, where you can see wool, leather, wood and metals being worked;
instead, the lower courtyard is the “Donnapaola Arts Farm” cultural attraction, where activities revolve around the relationship between the languages of art and nature: art and food, art and rural anthropology, art and landscape, art and environment. In this courtyard, you can find the taste lab, teaching rooms, art residences and the “Archivia” technological tower, which contains the memories of the Murgian community.
PAST – PRESENT – FUTURE
The future has an ancient heart, wrote Primo Levi.
While Victor Hugo noted that the future is the door, and the past is its key. The powerful energy of the past lives within the action of the present, as we mentioned in the previous section. “Tradition” can take on the sense of “translation” in the present (as Theodor Adorno maintained).And the main value of the project lies in the etymological meaning of these two terms: where the meaning of “delivering” relates to the passing down over time, from one generation to the next, of memories, information, accounts, it intermingles profoundly with the meaning of “carrying beyond”, or in other words, transforming experiences, territories, products, from one form to another, without losing any information. Rewriting the tangible and intangible heritage of Alta Murgia traditions with a new alphabet, different expressions and languages, because by adding it to a melting pot of contaminating influences, it can become a new Murgia, mended where it was fraying, abandoned and desertifying over the last few decades… with enhanced, propelling energy for the present and future.
A natural attraction and a cultural enterprise
A natural attraction and a cultural enterprise The proposed works involve a Site of Community Importance – “Murgia Alta” SIC/ZPS areas (IT9120007) – a natural attraction in the Apulian regional territory, which will be given additional value through the activities proposed here, in accordance with an integrated system logic that accepts the restrictions of protection and safeguarding provisions as a resource for conservation and as a driving force for the promotion of marginalised rural areas of the Bari Murgia region. This is with the purpose of implementing a production model based on the recovery and conservation of plant and animal , the promotion of high quality food production closely connected to the territory, as well as the enjoyment of intangible assets such as artistic beauty, sensory experience and the aesthetic and perception-based structure of agroforest landscapes. The innovative process that the initiative introduces consists in the central importance of the Cultural Attraction as a Cultural Enterprise, where both the infrastructure project and its management are perfectly in line with the value of Sustainability: understood as being environmental (no planned activity will be designed or managed to over-exploit natural resources, but instead will be managed to provide the latter with continuity), social (the educational role of agriculture, the function of a tourist attraction, combined with art and culture), economic (guaranteeing viability by providing high added value and increasing the quality experienced by the consumer), and ecological. In this sense, the Cultural Attraction functions to increase the competitiveness and appeal of the chosen area, as well as that of the farm and cultural association registered as the Managing Body, where, through a correct yet innovative interpretation of the provisions of art. 2135 of the Civil Code, they will connect the primary activities of production and processing with service activities in the area of cultural output and tourist hospitality.
Artistic process and relationships
The last decisive relationship in our project is the one between the Container and the Contained, to use the well-known Bionian categories, or in other words, the two-way connection between the Place as the object of artistic creation, and the Place as the subject of artistic and cultural experience, in line with the contemporary artistic movement, Relational Art – an art, that is, which concerns human interrelation and the social context in which it takes place, requiring the
active participation of the audience it is aimed at.
Indeed, our Attraction is a great operation of “Relational and Procedural Art” that, by means of the languages of all the arts, and through a series of steps – from relation to production; from production, experience; from experience, enjoyment – seeks to repair a vast territory such as Alta Murgia, in order to restore it to its communities, and also to visitors and tourists, with added value thanks to the creation of artistic production.
Works of relational art are so-called because, deep down, they are none other than different ways of seeing reality, different models for action, contextualised and inserted into an existing reality, rather than utopian or unreal images.
In relational art, the observers of the work are part of a community, from which the work itself creates a point of contact between the audience and an object, producing encounters between people.
It is precisely thanks to these encounters that the meaning of the work is provided through a group process, rather than individually. The artists become “facilitators” rather than
creators, offering the audience access to the power and the means to change the world.
Relational art does not consider the artist to be the creator of a purely aesthetic work of art, but instead he is seen as a man able to create thanks to his ability to transform and put the entire process of creation at the centre, rather than the final result.
This way, the artistic process is a moment of connection, exchange with other subjects who evolve thanks to that encounter, that connection.
Starting from this conceptual frame of reference, the aspects of our project that become crucial are the moments and forms dedicated to the artists’ production and the relationship between them and all the “observers” and “users” they will come into contact with in the context of the Artistic Residencies and Workshops.
Purposes and Goals
In line with the general purposes provided in the Roots and Wings Public Notice, the project goals focus on the applicants’ willingness to implement operational strategies to enhance, promote and spread Murgian culture from a historical, artistic, figurative, visual, literary and demo-ethno-anthropological perspective.
Through a wide range of activities connected to production and education in an artistic-cultural-tourist context, promotion of the creative, artistic and anthropological output from the cultural and environmental attraction represented by an architectural and natural complex within the Alta Murgia SIC area, and its enjoyment in terms of education and tourism, the project will have a direct impact on the achievement of the following results:
- increasing the appeal of the territory and the enjoyment of an area that is marginalised when compared to the main artistic and cultural offers at a regional level;
- implementing a culture of enterprise aiming at the socio-economic growth of the territories involved, and an improvement in employment in the sector, promoting the creation of new models for economics and management of cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible – through the use of top-level specialist skills;
- creating and promoting cultural tours that are strongly focused on experience, with the aim of teaching visitors about the heritage and the territory;
- encouraging integration and contamination between different contexts, expressions and languages connected to culture, tangible and intangible heritage, theatre, arts and tourism, in accordance with almost full adhesion to the contemporary artistic-cultural movement known as Relational Art.
At the foundation of the Donnapaola Arts Farm project is the awareness that thoughtful planning for the future must recognise that it is indispensable to root our present in the fertile ground, the fruitful soil of history and stories, knowledge and emotions that the centuries have deposited in our collective imagination. Using the languages and best practices of contemporary art, the project aims to experiment, on a part of Alta Murgia, with an innovative system of integration between a natural attraction and a new cultural attraction. A model for the management, recovery and re-appropriation of the identity of the territory and its traditions, which involves both the nearby area (Cassano, Santeramo, Altamura, Gravina, Matera) and a wider area in Murgia, in
a network with other attractions that are developing similar projects at a regional and national level.
The goal is to build a centre for the exchange of knowledge, which learns from the territory, retells its story, and teaches it to the outside world.
The method is a high-level training school that borrows its methods from learning organisations – organisations that learn from themselves. Creating connection and dialogue between farmers’ knowledge, traditional crafts and ecological awareness of the specific aspects of the environment, and the theoretical and practical requirements of art as a multi-disciplinary language of interpretation and re-creation of the present, on a global, international scale. With the ambition of building a new narrative for these lands, which starts from their rooted identity, but then extends further:
recreating a sense of community aimed at communicating new development models where memory is not only a static reference, but a living, everyday, human presence.
The project, which envisions the first 24 months as a phase for experimentation, will be structured through a programme of activities carried out in 6 themed areas.
1. Art and agriculture.
2. Art and Food
3. Art, Environment, Ecology
4. Art and Rural Anthropology
5. Crafts and Folk Art
6. Active Archive of Knowledge
a. Mapping – The preliminary phase of the project is the systematic identification of the active businesses in the territory in the fields of agriculture, food, arts and crafts, traditions and memories, innovative practices. This mapping will allow us to identify the network of actors to invite to participate in events and initiatives for meetings and exchange. This way, the Donnapaola Arts Farm project intends to design itself around the territory and its needs, its human and social capital.
b. Archivia – The creation of a digital platform to implement the storage of territorial archives. The Archivia section is in a sense the beating heart of the activities at Donnapaola Arts Farm: it aims to relaunch the culture of the archive in a contemporary way, turning memory into an open project, beyond fleeting temptations. In the preliminary phase, we plan to study and map the public and private archives present in the territory around Alta Murgia. The material selected will then be inserted into a digital platform that can be consulted on request. This heritage will also be made available to the artists in residence, who will be able to draw lines of research from it to develop through artistic processes that can then be restored to the community.
c. Educational activities – In parallel, the cornerstone of the project is the launch of educational activities based on a teaching model that combines agro-ecological training with artistic and creative strategies. A “school” that is designed not to be top-down and self-referential, but instead based on active participation, through workshops and courses organised around practices of shared experience. The idea is to create an experimental laboratory, an agricultural training ground based on hospitality and coexistence, to explore aspects and implications of agricultural and food-based topics from different points of view, with constant interaction with the environment. This training ground is intended as a place for developing avant-garde ideas on the relationship between art, agriculture and food, where professionals from various fields can exchange ideas and create new directions of thought and action.
The activities will be organised into three modules that are distinct, but interconnected:
• Connective Residency with established Italian and international artists
• Residential workshops, designed for young artists
• Public programme, for the general public and the local community
e. Enjoyment Programme:
• experience-based tourism packages
• edutainment packages for visitors, students, local communities
The Production Process
The production process the Donnapaola Arts Farm project is based on can be effectively visualised in the infographic below, in which we can clearly see the three main branches of activity, summarised by three key words:
PRODUCTION, DEVELOPMENT, ENJOYMENT, as well as the close links between these three branches of activity.
It also shows all the services and products that the project plans to launch and provide on the national and international artistic-cultural and tourist market.
Each of the two directives will develop a package of offers for products and services, which can be detailed as follows:
Production - Education - Development
1.a – The Connective Residency
This envisages 20 invitations per year, for international artists or figures in the world of food, which can be connected to the themes of the project. Each artist, spending certain periods in residence on site, will produce a piece of work or some sort of output that represents the social and artistic process they have gone through within the project.
It will also take on the forms of narration of the territory and the people who work here to create tangible change. The artists or figures from the world of food taking part in the residency will also be asked to provide in-person educational activities.
1.b – residential courses and modules for emerging artists
Residential workshops. 10 modules per year are planned for young artists from the national and international scene, in working groups of around ten students, selected through special competitions. Artists and inspiring figures will be invited to the course as mentors, along with professionals bringing traditional knowledge of the territory (artisans,
farmers, agriculturers and local supply chains). As well as encouraging processes of circular self-learning, every residential course will finish by returning what has been developed during the educational and practical process to the public.
1.c – Public Programme: talks, seminars and explorations open to the local community
This is a programme specifically aimed at local communities. It includes all our initiatives (talks, tasting sessions, craft workshops, film screenings…) designed for an audience of people who are not specialised, but interested in exploring the themes developed by the artists invited for both the connective residencies and the residential workshops.
1.d – Archivia
The Archivia section is in a sense the beating heart of the activities at Donnapaola Arts Farm: it aims to relaunch the culture of the archive in a contemporary way, dedicated to the territory around Alta Murgia. The material selected will then be inserted into a digital platform that can be consulted on request. This heritage will also be made available to the artists in residence, who will be able to draw lines of research from it to develop through artistic processes that can then be restored to the community.
2.a – Storyliving e ricettività turistica
2.a – Storyliving and tourist hospitality
The most recent tourist trends are shaping a new type of traveller:
they are no longer simply detached observers or passive viewers of the beauty and attractions of a territory, but people who want to come into contact with the destination and establish a deep, authentic relationship with it, which involves having memorable experiences.
It is no longer just the places, the activities, the attractions that stimulate travellers’ interest, but instead the people and their stories (hence the term storyliving), the connections that can be made and the experiences and emotions they can have.
Therefore, the life and travel experience that Donnapaola Arts Farm can guarantee for our tourists will come directly from what has been produced in prior activities, namely:
the creative process of artistic production;
temporary exhibitions from artists in residence;
participation in the packages of residential workshops and the varied
offer of immersive workshops on the topics of art, food, the environment,
demo-anthropology and rural anthropology;
interactive temporary exhibitions of the collections contained in Archivia.
Added to this is high-quality accommodation within the cultural
and environmental attraction of the initiative.
2.b – Edutainment
Created from the combination of the words “education” and “entertainment”,
this term refers to teaching and education methods based on entertainment and fun.
Highly educational and enjoyable courses will be developed in a context that, by promoting the unique environment and culture of the place, will be able to create short-term offers specifically aimed at a pool of visitors from the region, the local community and students.
In this case too, activities involving Production – Education – Development will be promoted after suitable customisation: workshops and experiences, temporary exhibitions and interactive use of Archivia.
The Container and the Contained
The different functions envisaged for the cultural attraction created by this initiative find their three-dimensional form in the structural plan of the courtyard on the lower level of the Farmhouse building.
Indeed, along the perimeter wall of the courtyard, the following buildings will be developed (as shown in the plans and 3D renderings presented in the technical documentation for the project):
Taste lab: a structure facing the lower courtyard, with a glass facade to make the workshop activities visible, with the space open to the courtyard. The laboratory is made up of an area dedicated to processing the farm’s products, and an area for sensory tasting sessions for all the sensory organs;
Teaching rooms: these are located next to the taste lab, with the same design and building style, arranged on the western perimeter wall.
Exhibition/event spaces and artistic laboratories: three spaces for culture and art, i.e. a long exhibition space that is also usable for occasional events, and two art laboratories for creating spontaneous art;
Residences: a two-story building that contains accommodation for artists;
Smart room: this is a tower on two levels, equipped as the information centre of Archivia, as well as a reception and connecting area with the art residences on the first floor.
The idea of the connection between the spaces and the activities – as can be easily understood – runs through every structural and functional choice for the project, even in the selection of building materials, as detailed below:
the use of local split stone as a cladding for the perimeter wall and the service tower, and exposed tuff for all the facades facing the courtyard;
the interior walls of the main spaces feature large windows with aluminium sliding mechanisms, in line with the other metal finishing elements of the architectural design of the courtyard;
local stone will also be used to pave the outdoor areas, with different techniques and/or colours to differentiate the different functions of the open air spaces;
as a false ceiling, to seal the technical equipment into the structure and hide it from sight, wooden slats will be used in all spaces.