Welcome to the blog

Oh, yes. Here we are. Miriam’s speaking… or it should be better to say writing… writing a post. Somewhere I read that in order to be effective a post needs some little requirements: put some good pictures in context and be concise, clear and precise (Margareta Ekarv and Hélène Banõs’ methodologies can always help). In other words, experiment with a “straightforward” style of writing and create something that is good to be read drunk (that should be the proof of an easy-to-follow text). But first of all… go out and get inspired!

OK. I cannot totally guarantee for the concise-clear-precise code, but I can definitely certify the inspirational component… the one that never lacks on my way!

For the first post of this blog I have been personally inspired by my native land, Sicily, where I spent the last month on holiday. I am going to avoid you too emotional and full of sighs references to the beauty of this island, because I suppose that everyone knows about it and if not, please go and, for now, just Google it: she (I like to think of Sicily as a “she: woman”) really deserves to be admired.

The inspiration came to me during the one that was supposed to be a relaxing weekend on the seaside with my parents and that instead, turned out to be a great, exciting and stimulating experience to reflect upon. The place that I like to introduce as “a little cross-section of paradise” is called Castel di Tusa that in English will be the Castle of Tusa: a very small village of around 840 inhabitants peeped out through a gulf of the Tyrrhenian sea. Here there is a very special hotel known as Art Hotel Atelier sul Mare: a hotel-museum of contemporary art.

Yeah, your reading is fine: a hotel-museum.

First stop. I think I had a reaction similar to the one that you are having right now when seeing the two words ‘hotel’ and ‘museum’ married together and we can open a very big discussion about those standards that every institution needs to fulfill in order to receive the appellative of ‘museum’.
However, this is not going to be the point of this post that wants, instead, to be an informative-little-piece about this ‘work in process’ hotel-museum, leaving to you the burden of formulating smart and fetishist considerations about the applicability of the definition of museum to this subject (very long sentence, the latter, I know: Italian style of writing!). So let me tell you more about it!

The white building of the hotel hosts a collection of paintings and sculpture and it is composed of forty rooms. Twenty of these rooms have been realized by international artists that came from all over the world on invitation of Mr. Antonio Presti, hotel’s owner and artist. The whole hotel is a sort of artwork in itself and the beauty and singularity of its collection of rooms is unbelievable. The realization of the ‘camere d’arte’ (art rooms) started at the beginning of the ‘90s. The first room to be realized is signed by Mario Ceroli, Italian sculptor and set designer and as follows, rooms have been made by Paolo Icaro, Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Michele Canzoneri, Maurizio Mochetti, Maria Lai, Mauro Staccioli, Dario Bellezza, Adele Cambria, Antonio Presti, Raoul Ruiz, Renato Curcio, Agostino Ferrari, Piero Dorazio, Graziano Marini, Luigi Mainolfi, Fabrizio Plessi, Agnese Purgatorio, Danielle Mitterand, Cristina Bertelli, Vincenzo Consolo, Ute Pika, Umberto Leone, Sislej Xhafa, Tobia Ercolino. The whole building is hold by a golden column with the shape of a beautiful, corpulent woman, i.e. a Nike by the artist Maria Villano, which highlights that this place is hold by art. As customer-visitor of the hotel-museum you will be welcomed by the staff in a nice hall surrounded by tiny stylized people with no gender drawn on the walls. They will overwhelm you with some thoughts about ‘beauty’ written down in different languages.

Every day at 12pm a tour through the ‘camere d’arte’ starts with qualified guides that will bring you inside the wonderful world of contemporary art. The ultimate goal of the project is to give to the visitors the chance of concretely inhabiting the artwork. Not always you will have the possibility of personally choose the room where to live your experience and the comfort won’t be a key word. Sometimes the shower can be a waterfall or an adventurous practice in extricating yourself between water splashes. The bed can be a raft, a nest or a sculpture. It can be huge and above water, or even surrounded by walls made of straw, stone or metal. Abstract forms can inundate the space as well as the action of a special hidden painting can surprise you when the windows are closed. The door can be the rock of the Ali-Baba’s cavern or the entrance to the alphabet’s world. The light can be substituted by iridescent LED or by candles. The dominant colors and themes will transport you inside the beauty of fantastic atmospheres: dark, luminous, Middle-eastern, hot, mysterious, pure.
Collection and uniqueness? Checked.

At the ground floor you will notice a staircase that will directly bring you inside the pottery workshop’s space. An expert in ceramic will stimulate your creativity in practicing the art of pottery or, for the shiest ones, there will be the chance to admire and eventually buy the most favorite piece. Just in front of the entrance there is a beautiful terrace that looks at the sea. This is the summer location of the café/restaurant where wooden tables and chairs seem huge secular trees.

How amazing is this?! But the story is not ended here: the Art Hotel Atelier sul Mare, in fact, is just a little gem of a bigger thing where a number of 10 other artworks is next to it. They are all land art monuments made between 1989 and 2010 by Italian and International artists as part of a project called Fiumara d’arte that in English will be something similar to art of/along the river. Yes, once upon a time a river flowed for 21km between the Nebrodi mountains until another, nowadays drained, stream. Following a path that runs from the sea to the inner mountains you can discover the immensity of some sort of Sicilian lieux de mémoire, where the sound of the water is mixed to the one of the wind, in a frame of grasses, lands and hills. The root is difficult and the accessibility not always guaranteed. Few tours depart from the hotel-museum but the best way to reach them will be on board of a gyp. The first piece of this open air park (one of the biggest of Europe) was commissioned by Mr. Presti after his father’s death. It was then expanded in a result that encounters a manifold variety of styles and inspirational views. From a black and white sculpture in reinforced concrete to a monolithic curved arch; from a blue, open window that remembers Magritte to a boat in a hidden cell. From an intriguing labyrinth to a wall of ceramics, symbols and myths. From a blue wave that you can either climb or sail, to a pyramid with a magic triangular base. And to finish a domestic museum: as a result of a project with the inhabitants of the little village of Pettineo, artworks are hosted within the walls of the village’s houses. A special pottery tile posted on the doors will indicate which house contains an artwork. You can knock and go inside, to meet the family and to listen the oral histories related to the art.

Ok. Little stop. I know that your creative minds are already wondering about the so-many-things that could be implemented to improve and augment the performance of the park in terms of communication, education, inclusion, research and yeah, sustainability. And the latter is the one that I would like to stress. In fact, despite the greatness of natural, historical and artistic features, the Fiumara d’arte with its Art Hotel Atelier sul Mare is the perfect example of how such an attractive place cannot always take advantage from its resources in a completely successful way. Mr. Presti had to fight quite a lot with the local “power” for developing his project during the years and he is currently dealing with the problem of conservation of the park that, as you all can imagine, needs a constant and precise work of monitoring and safeguard.

Besides, the issue that concerns him the most is the perspective of succession. He does not have any direct inheres to carry on the Fiumara d’arte and to seriously take care of it in the future. Lack of a well-organized managerial structure? Yes, maybe. He thought of a solution: founding an art academy to train young professionals and to furthermore employ them within the institution. However, will this solution be sufficient to guarantee the development of both park and hotel-museum in the future?

Fiumara d’arte is more or less unconsciously carrying out many of the museum’s functions, offering a singular experience to the visitors, including the local inhabitants and covering a certain educational role in a dimension that strengthen and reduce, at the same time, the borders between private and public. And I am now asking to you: suggestions of any kind for Mr. Antonio Presti and his beautiful “little cross-section of paradise”?

I would be glad to hear your opinions, comments or remarks about it!


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