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So the Italian leg and also first part of [ri-ver-be-ro] has concluded.

It’s been a twelve-day of flights to Rome, missed flights, airport pick ups, drives to the mountains, walks in the valleys, snake spotting, food tasting, wine sipping, Rome sightseeing, coffee drinking and a lot of hard work, boundary testing and experimentation for our resident artists. A few feathers were also ruffled but, hey, where there’s artists there’s ruffled feathers.

Art Arcadia residencies are self directed and unstructured. The idea behind this specific residency at La Mola, in Pietrafitta, is to give the participating artists the opportunity to get away from arts circles, cosy arts environments and support networks in order to take time for reflexion and research in an almost arts-hostile cultural and physical environment. An opportunity to question and test their practice, experiment and possibly find new directions for their work.

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In a way this has been a boundary testing exercise for me too. Although I am a practicing artist, my role in Art Arcadia is purely project management and logistics support. But the real test has really been to go back to the places of my childhood and teenage years in the role of Art Arcadia site manager and in the company of four irish artists in residence.

Pietrafitta is a tiny village of about 200 inhabitants situated in a valley at the foot of the Appennini mountains, roughly halfway between Rome and Naples. Culturally we can probably say that it belongs to what Antonio Gramsci defined as a subaltern culture, as opposed to hegemonic culture.

It has been an extremely interesting process watching Heather, Stuart, Gail and Alice negotiate their ways in and about the village, responding to the place according to their own different personalities and sensibilities, as well as their own individual practices.

I suppose it will take some time for them to be able to fully take in and then reinterpret artistically their experience during this unconventional residency.

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From my point of view, it’s been an exciting and enjoyable experience, both personally and professionally. And to make it even better, after all the artists had left, I kept discovering little traces of their work in and around the house and the village, memories of their artistic progression through the residency, little artworks, works in progress and 3D sketches.

And something unexpected also happened. I got some really good feedback from some of the locals, happy not only to see people visiting this remote village and taking an interest in it, but also happy to comment and share their take and their thoughts on the works of Mak9 and on the photos published on social media.

Almost every person I met told me they had at some point spotted the artists walking in the rain or down some remote pathway, and later, unexpectedly and to their surprise, they had come across remnants and traces of the artists’ work.

Heather, Gail, Stuart and Alice have definitely stirred and taken up the attention and curiosity of a welcoming but usually sleepy village.

This in itself, to me, is a huge success.


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