Between art and environmental biodiversity

INTERCHANGE. Creative workshops between art and environmental biodiversity. 

On Monday 11 July, a group of students from the Academy of Fine Arts of Bari, coordinated by teacher and artist Nico Angiuli, arrived in Intersecţia, Romania, for the first week of a workshop that will continue at the end of July in Alta Murgia, at the Donnapaola Arts Farm. 

The students thus became involved in an immersive experience of interpreting a rural landscape in Eastern Europe, in an attempt to elaborate ecological thinking, which is such only if the whole view can be seen, along with the interweaving of all the elements that make up a landscape. An interchange of woods, meadows, winds, animals and humans.

We are in the Carpathian Mountains, in a climatically cold rural environment, where the landscape is shaped by pastoral activity. The village, Brădet, is surrounded by spruce forests (brad in Romanian) and beeches, which gradually give way to pastures and hay fields, and which over the course of a week we observed, crossed and interacted with through a series of experiences in an attempt to regain possession of an essential dimension of existence: perceptive, slow, in contact with plants and animals, just as we are no longer used to doing. The aim was to deconstruct certain thought habits and understand the complexity of the natural processes we are all a part of. To get back in touch with our roots, those bound to the land and our own history, at a time when even here these practices of subsistence economy, while still to be found, are moving towards their disappearance, driven by the very human desire to pursue an ever more affluent modern lifestyle, but also due to climate change which, due to the reduction in rainfall, interferes with the possibility of maintaining this kind of rural economy.


We walked in the woods, barefoot, in silence, reactivating dormant senses and an empathic dimension with the trees, forgotten for millennia, breathing, smelling and listening. We walked through icy water and over stones. We closed our eyes.

We ‘grazed’ with the cows, the herd (ciurda) that leaves the stables every morning to reach the pastures above the village and then head back down in the evening. At a slow pace, walking and resting at their own speed, we drank from the same spring as them. We slept in the sun and the wind, and we rested in the woods.

We milked the cows by hand and drank the milk, a natural product, produced naturally.

 

In the context of the research proposal, each of the participants undertook their own personal journey, collecting natural elements, sensations and stories to take with them and rework, like the cows that, once fed on the grass in the meadows, lie down and ruminate to produce milk: the essential nourishment for life in its birth and rebirth.

Settling in, getting acclimatised

Tuning in to the landscape

Regaining a horizon

Re-inhabiting the time at another speed

Reacquiring a slow rhythm of living and learning, at a walking pace

Changing habits, changing posture

Taking back possession of life, regenerating. Deploying energies favourable to life

Reanimating life

Re-inhabiting a void

Giving body to words and concepts

Thinking with the woods

Grazing with the cows

Meeting the animals

Regaining possession of beauty

Feeling the world with sentiment. Knowledge is sentimental.

Letting yourself be scratched

Feeling the thorns

Letting yourself be contaminated

Closing the eyes

We met:

the guardian crow

the scared slithering snake

the vain young steed, showing off his strength and agility to us

the new-born calf

the happy horse, frolicking in the grass

the curious and affectionate foals

the mare that comes up and demands a kiss