Ancient Futures

Ours is a moment of both material abundance and crisis in our relationship with nature and landscape, Matera will become a laboratory through which citizens of all Europe will be able to reconsider the value of what we have lost as well as what we have gained, reconnecting with experiences that have become unfamiliar in our cities such as darkness, silence, solitude and remoteness.
The Ancient Futures strand will ponder our millenary relationship with space and the stars and, following in the footsteps of one of the region’s most illustrious residents, Pythagoras, will explore the universal and age-old beauty of mathematics; at the same time we will explore the endless possibilities of remote futures, contemplating flying cities and will hold in spiritually evocative sites (such as the rupestrian churches) or cosmologically significant places (such as the Space Geodesy Center) experimental concerts.
We shall bring together these very long-standing practices with accessible life models to influence cultural and development-related ideas over the coming decades.

Continuity and Disruptions

Matera’s path to the present is a story of ingenuity and resilience, but also of disgrace and redemption. In particular, it is a story of a deep-seated and constantly-evolving sense of shame.
More than twenty years later, the Sassi – formerly considered as “national shame” – were recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the city is still coming to terms with its physical identity, and like many European cities, its relationship with modernity is conflicted.
Matera’s history offers lessons for creative survival, although the city has to face its fragile conditions and numerous difficult challenges. Continuity and Disruptions offers Matera 2019 to Europe as an opportunity for a process of collective therapy, an opportunity to confront the shame not just of the city itself but the many forms of shame and embarassment that make up the identity of Italy and all of Europe, ranging from growing social inequality to the resurgence of racism, the inability of many European countries to offer a future and hope to their young, and the drama of desperate fugitives from wars in Africa and Asia who fail to find a welcome in Europe.
Matera 2019 confronts our responsibility to collectively give shape to our cities and find beauty not just in theatres and museums but also in the spaces we inhabit on a daily basis, and takes the recent phenomenon of extraction of oil in Basilicata as an opportunity to question our short and long-term relationship with the environment.

Utopias and Distopias

From Rocco Scotellaro’s poems to Ludovico Quaroni and Giancarlo De Carlo’s urban experiments, the history of Matera is characterized by an irrepressible utopian tension which forms part and parcel of this theme.
We want to test radical new models that challenge assumptions — the assumption that tourism as the only viable path towards economic stability for southern cities, that technology is the only possible mediator for relationships, that industrial monoculture is the only path to affluence, and gourmet food and wine, the main identity-generating factor in a given area.
We need a profound change in mentality, on that abandons fatalism, amoral familism and opacity of information in public administration practices that have too often blocked opportunities for renewal in southern Italy.
Through a series of games and urban/rural sports, the “Utopias and Dystopias” theme will transform Matera into a playground that conjures up alternatives to taken-for-granted urban realities.

Roots and Routes

From the tradition of the “transumanza”, the annual ritual herding of the cows across the Murgia, the instinct of movement is etched into daily life in Matera. Mobility is this region’s lifeblood—from Magna Graecia and Rome to Byzantium and the Lombards, Arabs, Swabia or the House of Anjou, Basilicata has existed as a space of encounter and convergence.
Recently, like many other rural regions of Europe, it has lived through devastating bouts of emigration, only to see, in very recent times, the return of a younger generation attracted by the values that shape meridional culture.
Europeans have become more nomadic, moving more freely from city to city, and Roots and Routes explores the extraordinary possibilities of this culture of mobility that stitches Europe together.

Reflections and Connections

Through this programme we set out to prove that art, science and the widespread practice of cultural citizenship can be the catalysts for a new model throughout Europe, is rooted in “the practice of everyday life”.
Storytelling, cinematic narratives and oral histories are central to this process of re-examining identity, and are powerful tools for building to towards other European cultures, as is the act of “slowing down”.
The surrounding physical environment encourages us to rethink things ab initio, and to consider existential questions and fundamental values. The Reflections and Connections strand draws on the classical Latin adage later borrowed by Lorenzo de’ Medici, “Festina lente”, (“make haste slowly”): we must rediscover the value of time and slowing down, break away from the hegemony of the immediate present and step back from the accelerated pace of 21st century life.
The cultural citizens of Europe who converge in Matera will be casting themselves as actors in the vast play of life – a play that lasts not one year, or even ten years, but millennia.


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