To look at society through different eyes, or better, as the inspiration and objective of a group of students’ artistic research. Surely a big challenge. To set it are Cittadellarte and ArtEZ Academy, which have launched an intensive workshop part of a three-year course in visual arts. Started on 2nd September in Arnhem, in the Netherlands, after a couple of days the course moved to Biella, known for its wool working tradition, in the spaces of Fondazione Pistoletto and in other places within and outside the province relevant to its research. The Piedmontese city is in fact the active background on which 16 students of the bachelor in visual arts – 15 Dutch and 1 Italian – are working on their research, structured drawing inspiration from society. The key word around which the contents are centred is ‘production’, a focal theme dedicated to the identification of its relationship with art. To carry out this process, the students are immersing themselves in the local reality, metaphorically navigating the Biellese society. Specifically, the participants have discovered and visited some of the factories in the area, meeting entrepreneurs, workers and scholars engaged in investigating the relationship between production, economics and society.
In the two pictures, the visit to the Bonino factory.
The companies that have opened their doors to the participants are Filatura Astro, Lanificio Cerruti and Bonino 1913, and not only these important local businesses: on 7th September the students spent the day in Turin, where they were welcomed by Galleria Franco Noero, Cripta747 and Consorzio del Lingotto, which gave them access to the extraordinary test track on top of one of the most iconic buildings of Italian industrial culture. Michele Cerruti But, coordinator of the UNIDEE Academy, talked to us in detail about the intensive workshop: “The participants have had the opportunity to relate their aspirations and individual researches with the bigger picture, i.e. actual reality. We enable them to interact with society, or better, one of its specific aspects, production. How? We offer them the chance to experience first-hand the production context by engaging with the manufacturing world and its actors. Starting from this immersion in reality, we have asked the students to develop an individual or collective research”.
The visit to the test track on the roof of the Lingotto factory.
The UNIDEE Academy’s coordinator revealed the objective of the workshop: “The objective – he said – is to show the students how to develop an artistic education relating directly with society, even before pursuing an intellectual reflection. The social reality surrounding us is in fact the biggest catalyst a ‘homo artisticus’ (to quote Michelangelo Pistoletto) could have”. His words are clearly inferring a strong relationship (and coherence) between the contents of the initiative and Cittadellarte’s mission, i.e. how art can be concerned with society and connect with it responsibly. “The reference to socially engaged art – specified Cerruti But – is one of the main reasons for our collaboration with ArtEZ, which, as an art academy, for years has been carrying out a research based on teaching young students about the ability of art to connect with society”. The curricular course features two important appointments: the presentation of the students’ work on 23rd September here at Cittadellarte and the final restitution on 1st October back at the Academy in the Netherlands. This two moments of sharing are extremely relevant: “As usual, Cittadellarte’s education is collective – added Cerruti But – since complex thought can only be built through collectivity”.
The students at Filatura Astro.
The tutors Juan Sandoval and Michele Cerruti But have shaped and defined the contents of the module, but the project has also seen the participation of Maresa Lippolis (professor at Naba and part of the collective Serpica Naro), Michelangelo Pistoletto (protagonist of a conversational evening with the students), Francesco Monico (director of the UNIDEE Academy, who will give a lecture on the relationship between man and technology), Nico Angiuli (who has presented his project The Human Tools), Paolo Naldini, and the whole of Cittadellarte.