The Italian Red Cross at Cittadellarte, when art and beauty are the cure
An Italian Red Cross delegation visited the spaces of Fondazione Pistoletto and met Michelangelo Pistoletto and Paolo Naldini. The foundations were laid for a collaboration between the association and Cittadellarte totally focusing on the care of the human being, possibly with very similar instruments.

Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntariety, unity, universality: these are the seven principles guiding the activity of CRI – Italian Red Cross, a non-profit organization which has always had as main objectives the prevention and the relief of human suffering. 360-degree care and assistance without distinction of nationality, race, sex, political or religious belief. Suffering has also emotional and not only physical aspects though. Let’s think about the aftermath of a natural calamity: the most serious and difficult-to-heal wounds are sometimes the psychological ones. And this is where art and beauty can change the colour of life. A humanism of care which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Italian Red Cross, whose representatives met Michelangelo Pistoletto and Paolo Naldini, director of Cittadellarte, on Thursday 4th October. What can the meeting of care and culture lead to?

Before going into the details of the exchange between these two apparently far but actually close worlds, let’s take a step back to find out the premises of the visit. Chiara Belliti, Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadress, knows Pierumberto Ferrero, from Italian Croce Rossa’s Institutional Relations and Partnerships department. It was a Third Paradise at first sight: why not heal souls besides bodies? A visit to Cittadellarte by an Italian Red Cross delegation – led by Flavio Ronzi, general secretary of the association – was therefore organized, for them to be able to get to know the peculiarities and the spaces of Fondazione Pistoletto. “It’s not only bodies which need healing – said Belliti to us – because there exists a tragic and sorrowful emptiness where loneliness can cause more damages than an earthquake. This is where culture and art can be the driving forces of a social innovation able to make souls and creativity sparkle. With this in mind was the meeting between CRI and Cittadellarte organized. It wasn’t just a mere visit to the spaces, but the presentation of the process the Foundation is carrying out to achieve the goals of demopraxy and social innovation”.


The visit, as well as the meeting with Pistoletto and Naldini, had a strong emotional and thoughtful impact on the guests. The positive outcome of the exchange, which revealed elective affinities between the parties, is also obvious from Pistoletto’s words: “Between Cittadellarte and the Italian Red Cross – said the artist – there is a healthy competition to achieve common goals”, where ‘competition’ carries its original positive Latin meaning of ‘going together’ or ‘converging in the same place’.

For the occasion, the artist from Biella also created a new Third Paradise dedicated to the Red Cross (please see cover image), as a way to seal the meeting. The new representation of the sign-symbol is in fact inspired to CRI’s seven principles, whose names actually compose the work. “The conversation at the round tables was intense, a sort of improvised Rebirth Forum, – continues Chiara Belliti – which allowed us to lay the foundations for a long lasting collaboration. Croce Rossa and Cittadellarte have both found a travelling companion: the bottom line is that both the Foundation and CRI are interested in the care of the human being”.

 It is time we all become fully aware that people, i.e. the individuals composing society, are not dispersed and scattered across our towns (being them metropolis or mountain villages); each of them spends in fact most of their time within organizations which can be institutions or big companies or non-profit / volunteering associations, making choices on a daily basis, e.g. what electricity supplier to go for, what food to serve in their canteens, what contracts to offer to their employees, whether to promote the use of a bicycle to go to work and so on.
Each organization is therefore a micro-government or a micro-parliament. This is the premise of our demopractic programme: it is in fact through practice that people empower themselves. For this reason, at Cittadellarte one of the main areas of research is into organizations: we analyse how they work and how they are connected to each other, how they impact society, how they can become classrooms where to learn how to live in harmony with the planet and with each other.

The Italian Red Cross – concludes the director – is one of the most important and consolidated organizations in the world; having it as our partner is an honour, and will allow us to develop our research offering our students a case study of excellence, at the same time giving CRI the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge amassed by our university in the last decades”.