This book collects a significant selection of the contributions presented at the Landscape Lessons, a series of meetings, happenings, exhibitions and temporary installations organised by the cultural association plug_in in May 2008 at the Renesso Mountain Colony.
With the participation of architects, artists, cultural operators, museum directors, geographers, photographers and writers, the Lessons have revealed the different declinations and definitions that the term landscape may acquire and tried to induce a sharper awareness of our interaction with the surrounding environment. The choice of the very venue of the event can be read as a declaration of intent. An early Rationalist building designed by engineer Camillo Nardi Greco in 1933 and sited in Savignone (Genoa), a town of the Ligurian backcountry, the Colony represents an example of the kind of historical-architectural heritage that contemporary society too often neglects and abandons because its economical and cultural processes fail to recognise its value. For these reasons, the Colony’s building and park have become the subject of several site-specific works: “Italian Landscapes”,a temporary building designed by the collective ]zerozoone[,“Il paesaggio non è un gioco” (“Landscape is not a game”), by landscapers Land-I; artist Silvia Cini’s installation “Gheminga”; the banner “Per chi sa andare sul filo all’orizzonte tra e fra il nulla” (“For whom can walk the line dividing the horizon of nothingness”) mounted by Fabrizio Basso on the Colony’s façade. A homage to artist Ugo La Pietra was organised inside the building with the projection of La riappropriazione della città (1975) and Interventi pubblici per la città di Milano (1979), alongside Fire (2000), Fabrizio Basso’s video installation about arson; one of the bathrooms accommodated the screening of the video Interrupted Landscape, Elvira Vannini’s take on landscape. In the Colony’s hall a dialogue between artist videos from the Careof archive, selected by Mario Gorni, a circle of sods that anticipated Silvia Cini’s installation on the terrace and Fabrizio Basso’s banner, placed in the double-height stair space, that evoked the use and the power of words in the dialogue between the Colony and the Cinqueterre area (and its dialect). Emilio Fantin used three rooms at the first floor to establish a relation between the memory of the place, a summer boarding-school for girls, and the physical and psychological violence inflicted on children in our age. The first floor also accommodated the photographic exhibition “Sguardi nel paesaggio. Un resoconto sulla fotografia italiana contemporanea”, presenting the contributions of seventeen photographers – well-known as well as emerging figures of Italian contemporary photography – invited to narrate and explore landscape with photography: Mariano Andreani, Cesare Ballardini, Francesco Cicconi, Andrea Dapueto, Cesare Fabbri, Vittore Fossati, Marcello Galvani, Guido Guidi, Alessandro Lanzetta, Andrea Panzironi, Andrea Pertoldeo, Emanuele Piccardo, Pietro Luigi Piccardo, Andrea Repetto, Sabrina Ragucci, Filippo Romano, Luisa Siotto.
At the top floor, yet another dialogue between two works: “Primario Ambiente”, Guido Affini’s sound installation, that gave the viewers the emotion of hearing the Colony “breathe”, and “Casa pratino”, the temporary unit by altro_studio.
The Landscape Lessons have been the first step in a more ambitious project that aims at transforming the Renesso Colony in a venue of contemporary art, with the promotion of partnerships between the future Experimental Workshop of Contemporary Art and other Italian and European institutions promoted in the context of the (permanent) relation with the local community.
As a collection of contributions on these issues, this book will be hopefully a useful tool for cultural operators as well as local citizens who care for their environment.