FUTURO FANTASTICO (2nd movement)

FUTURO FANTASTICO (2nd movement)
Shapeshifting Festival of jellyfish, cyborgs and companion species
8 – 18 July 2021

In a state oscillating between hope and despair or, better – quoting Rebecca Solnit – ‘Hope in the darkness’, we launch the last act of Santarcangelo 2050, an event celebrating 50 years of re-existence of the Festival. It is the result of long dialogues with countless artists immersed in the sea of uncertainty and despair the pandemic has amplified. We tried to be as sensitive to fragilities as possible, without forcing the display of works born, for the most part, in the sidereal emptiness of lockdown. Despite all the doubts on the restrictions and the prolonged legislative chaos, from the 8th to the 18t of July 2021, Santarcangelo will host the second and last act of FUTURO FANTASTICO, a shapeshifting Festival of jellyfish, cyborgs and companion species. An extraordinary programme expanded over the course of 12 months and re-designed several times because of the pandemic emergency, with a constant exercise of transformation and reflection on the relationship between art and the public dimension. It will be an intense ten-day programme – mostly outdoors – which will bring to life a collective work that will blur the distances between theatre, cinema, music, literature and anthropology.

The Festival tagline references the magic, restless, shapeshifting force of a 50-year-old Festival that always rises from its ashes like a phoenix while also remaining tentacularly connected to many aspects of the present. The novels of Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor, inhabited by half-human, half-jellyfish hybrid creatures – which we read voraciously during lockdown – urged us to focus on the theme of interdependence. Let’s think of ourselves as companion species, as Donna Haraway wrote, since animals and humans have not evolved separately but rather cohabited. After all, the virus is a zoonosis: it shows infection as a condition of all life forms and reminds us we are not self-sufficient. Even a cultural institution like Santarcangelo Festival needs to rethink itself and strengthen its connection to the ground/territory by asking itself how to live equally. This question could be the basis of a new political practice, as Massimo Filippi writes, but that is not happening. Humans overcrowd, move and anthropize the globe – all reasons that contribute to the diffusion of epidemics – treading on a ground they want lifeless, following from the premise of extractivism. But why don’t we truly live together?

How To Be Together is the title of the most reckless and utopian project (curated by Chiara Organtini) that we want to realise this year as a “legacy” of our artistic direction at Santarcangelo Festival: a temporary, sustainable village. It will be located in a magnificent regenerated green space of the Parco dei Cappuccini, designed by AMA | Matteo Ascani and built thanks to local workers and craftspeople. It will come to life in collaboration with some of the most innovative educational institutions in Europe (KASK & CONSERVATORIUM School of Arts Gent, DAS Theatre in Amsterdam, La Manufacture – Haute école des arts de la scène in Lausanne, DAMU – Divadelni fakulta AMU in Prague, and Iuav – Teatro e Arti Performative in Venice). During the Festival, it will host a group of about 50 students from partner schools, in addition to artists selected through an open-call. Together, they will participate in 5 research groups curated by Jozef Wouters and Bart Van den Eynde, Lotte van den Berg / Building Conversation, Riccardo Benassi, Ingri Midgard Fiksdal and Valentina Pagliarani. It was conceived as a temporary installation, but it aims to transform into a permanent structure in the future: a celebratory return to the roots of the Festival, originally known also for its “free camps”, especially in its first years, highlighting the mix of past and future that characterises the weaving of the Festival.

In the last edition, we titled the 50th anniversary of the Festival Futuro Fantastico to challenge the difficulties of distancing, turning limitations into an invitation to imagine other proxemics and geographies. It was hard because the tremendous economic efforts made to abide by all the regulations are still unrecognised by national institutions. At the same time, it was also a moving discovery of new ways of experiencing open spaces. Santarcangelo Festival, one of the very few carried out in person at the time, was the prelude of a silent, joyful awareness that the pandemic nightmare was about to end. This hope then collapsed in the winter, at the point that Winter Is Coming (the act dedicated to emerging groups) ended up embodying its own original, terrifying connotation. With the arrival of the second wave of the virus, theatres closed again, and the precarious conditions of show business professionals, still in turmoil because of unemployment and non-existent protections, further deteriorated. In this regard, we want to express our solidarity with the occupation of the Globe Theatre in Rome, whose slogan – Re-make the Globe! – originates from the idea of rebuilding the world.

The image we chose for 2021 refers to “another possible world”. It is a still frame from the video Signals from future by Taiwanese artist Betty Apple, an image produced with AI software that alters her face, crossing it with other human and animal faces. Betty claims to have travelled into the future and that she came back to tell us of a planet where gender and ethnic barriers have been abolished, and boundaries between all earthly creatures, humans, animals, plants and inorganic matter have crumbled. Betty is a gorgeous cyborg who tells us how the future can be different from the usual apocalyptic narratives invading Netflix. She does so from a country that neutralised COVID-19 contagion and sees Europe as dangerous and off-limits territory, setting off a humility exercise for the whole Western world, which always excelled in excluding others. The retro-futurist image of the last edition depicted a giant, kind octopus invading Piazza Ganganelli, a troubling yet reconciling signal, a clear invite to mixing, anti-speciesism, symbiotic coexistence with other living beings on the planet. These themes will come back in the second act of the Festival, which will witness the realisation of many projects that could not be presented last year. The Festival will also find its international dimension again, generating contaminations within culturally and geographically distant worlds It will be a journey open to interactive processes that result in the invasion of public spaces, from squares to natural sceneries. This will create a programme with a branched frame divided into thematic chapters that we will briefly list below: we will give more information regarding this in future statements.

This section includes artists coming from Latin America, Africa and Asia, places far away from the Western traditions that are now witnessing the rise of a generation engaged in decolonisation and creating works on the climate crisis and the end of the Anthropocene. The dystopian sceneries of fantasy literature keep dramatically overlapping with the here-and-now. The epidemiological emergency separates us into competitive units, contrasting “healthy” and “sick”, “abled” and “disabled” without paying attention to new eco-social models, centred around Care intended as a collective responsibility involving all bodies indiscriminately. The fear of the Other spreads with multiplying instances of Asian hate worldwide: this makes us even prouder to have an Asian face on our billboards. It is a digitally transformed face, as new collective practices of imagination, resistance, revolt, reparation, and grief are inseparable from the autonomous management of advanced technologies.
In addition to Betty Apple, Fantastic Bestiaries includes Chilean director and playwright Manuela Infante, in collaboration with Michael De Cock and KVS in Brussels; Mexican choreographer and researcher Amanda Piña; Brazilian performer Gabriela Carneiro da Cunha; Ghanaian transgender artist Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (with an online contribution, given the persistent travel bans in some countries); young choreographer Barbara Berti; Dutch performer Cherish Menzo, of Surinamese descent; and Greek choreographer Lenio Kaklea. Ermanna Montanari / Teatro delle Albe comes back to the Festival with a work on Mother (earth) in collaboration with painter and illustrator Stefano Ricci and composer and string bass player Daniele Roccato.

Many projects hybridize different forms and codes, generating eclectic and irregular works: this is the case of Romeo Castellucci’s video installation, set to music by Scott Gibbons; the first study of El Conde de Torrefiel’s new work; Industria Indipendente collective, together with artist and director Rä di Martino, French cinematographer Marie Losier and German musician Felix Kubin. Within the celebrations for the centennial of Federico Fellini’s birth, Deflorian/Tagliarini will present in Rimini a preview of their work on Ginger and Fred with cinematographer Jacopo Quadri. For the 30 years of Mutonia, the Belgian collective GHOST will prepare a site-specific action in collaboration with the Mutoid Waste Company on Mad Max (set in 2021). Zapruder filmmakersgroup, Muta Imago group and, from Switzerland, Simon Senn’s first step of a new project on Artificial Intelligence will integrate this hybrid programme. Cinema will become nomadic and performative thanks to the collaboration with Cinema Du Desert, a truck equipped with a photovoltaic system that will invite the exploration of unusual and remote locations, in close contact with nature, a theme that, together with sustainability, will be the at the core of the programme.

The Festival’s eyes now turn towards young generations as a political act of support to this artistic area, strongly affected by the pandemic. A special section includes a group of young artists who should have been performing back in December 2020 during Winter Is Coming and who will finally be able to present their performances and site-specific works (many of which completed during artistic residencies in Santarcangelo): Emilia Verginelli, Anna Serlenga & Rabii Brahim / Corps Citoyen; Selamawit Biruk, Paola Stella Minni / Konstantinos Rizos, Gloria Dorliguzzo, Nova Melancholia, Madalena Reversa, ANKKH, Leonardo Schifino, Call Monica, Pankaj Tiwari e Alexia Sarantopoulou with Ondina Quadri. To these are added: performer Muna Mussie, presenting a work together with Eritrean teenager Filmon; and the project Incroci, which involves 50 young migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, a national premiere of a network project among Teatro Magro, Cooperativa Sociale in Mantova, Associazione Babel Crew in Palermo and Associazione Asinitas in Rome.

Santarcangelo frays its boundaries through a great investment in interactive processes that involve local citizens and communities. In this trajectory, we find the new site-specific project Grand Bois, created by Bluemotion / Fanny & Alexander in collaboration with Tempo Reale in the context of the cooperative network Create to Connect → Create to Impact; and Mara Oscar Cassiani, with the final stage of Be Water, My Friends, included in the European Project BE PART, of which Santarcangelo dei Teatri is a leading partner.

Accaventiquattro celebrates 50 years of Santarcangelo Festival with a wave of performative events that will promote the participation of all sectors of the public, replying to the pandemic crisis with new practices of closeness in public spaces, such as Parco Baden-Powell, transformed into an open-air theatre with unexpected shows at any time of day (and night). H24 will be inaugurated with a ritual, shared with Live Arts Week in Bologna, performed by musician Enrico Malatesta and choreographer Cristina Kristal Rizzo. There will be spaces of intersection dedicated to musical experimentation, with a schedule of concerts curated by Christopher Angiolini, artistic director of Bronson Produzioni. Piazza Ganganelli will host a special programme devoted to Liscio (traditional ballroom dancing), a tribute to the recent passing of Raoul Casadei. Piazza Ganganelli will also host Teatro Patalò‘s workshops, non-scuola del Teatro delle Albe, and the workshop for young children curated by Rocco Papia on building musical instruments from recycled materials. Usmaradio / Roberto Paci Dalò with the radiophonic project KIN will be present, as will the Bookshop curated by Bar Lento in Rimini. The extended programme of public talks and conferences is still being defined.

This edition will open with a special day that will present the results of two years of work and research dedicated to the 50-year history of Santarcangelo Festival. This includes the presentation of the book curated by Roberta Ferraresi and published by Corraini Edizioni, and the screening of the documentary 50 Santarcangelo Festival, directed by Michele Mellara and Alessandro Rossi for Mammut Film.

Santarcangelo Festival is organised by the Association Santarcangelo dei Teatri thanks to the Municipality of Santarcangelo di Romagna and the Municipalities of Rimini, Longiano, Poggio Torriana, San Mauro Pascoli, with the support of the European Commission, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the Emilia-Romagna Region, Visit Romagna and the Chamber of Commerce of Romagna. Santarcangelo Festival is a partner of BE PART and Create to Connect → Create to Impact. These projects are supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe programme. A special thanks to Gruppo Hera, Gruppo Maggioli, Anthea Futura and Amir OF, main sponsors of the Festival, for always being on our side in an ongoing dialogue.


Daniela Nicolò, Enrico Casagrande

visual © Betty Apple
from “Signals from future”