In the amber of the moment

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why. – Kurt Vonnegut

Imagine seeing frames of what happened in Piazza Ganganelli from 1970 till today flowing before our very eyes, like a fast-forwarded consumed VHS tape, time lapsed towards our 2020 festival/landscape: What is appearing?

In January 2019 this was the leading question dominating our first statement about the Festival edition we were called to direct in July 2020… Since then a massive amount of work was done, until we reached the final shape of the programme, ready on time for the explosion of this virus-bomb that crystallized the whole project, in the amber of the moment.
Ten years after our first artistic direction of Santarcangelo Festival, all about the notion of “representation of the real”, we re-start shifting the focus from the “transposition of the real” to the “interception and imagination of visions and strategies for possible futures”, possible even when drowned in the “pandemic digital swarm”. An act of reverse archeology unearthing the future buried in the present.

Wandering across the thematic lines of Santarcangelo 2050 (as we named this 2020 edition playing with the celebration of our 50th), a land of time-shifts and blur temporalities, we decided not to cancel nor postpone the Festival but to expand it in time with a first act happening next summer in the public space: this is going to be an experiment and a pilot project that embraces safety regulations and the social solidarity as leverage points to invent possible forms of togetherness form a 1 meter (or more) distance.

The Festival itself is going to be a performative gesture, a wide spread cinematographic set on which locals, citizens, artists, technicians, politicians, chef, shopkeepers… the entire community will be the main character of an epic post-apocalyptic movie: this is going to happen in Santarcangelo where we will reshape the main square, the area called Sferisterio and the park nearby Imbosco as new natural stages.
To develop a high quality and detailed documentation of this 5 days collective performance we are collaborating with Dugong film production. Because of the uniqueness and exceptional nature of this act of rethinking the Festival in response to an emergency, this is also going to be a documentary on the role of imagination in adaptive processes.

In this very moment, it is necessary to get prepared to “survive on an infected planet” to quote Donna Haraway and her “Staying with the Trouble” whose incipit echoes an important line form Isabel Stengers and Vinciane Despret: “Think we must. We must think.”
Even if the general mood “after the storm” will be the opposite of the Fantastic Future portrayed by Asimov, we have to keep on thinking, guessing and inevitably dreaming: every crisis, environmental, financial or political, is always a crisis of the imagination.

This emergency version of the Festival is conceived, as in the etymological root, as an “act of emergence”, that is what emerges. In Botany it stays for a bulge on the trunk or on the leaves of a plant or homologous organisms (with different functions or shapes for specific species) that can be generated by the skin/surface as much as by underlying tissues as spines in roses and brambles or glandular hairs in carnivorous plants.

Here we come back to vegetal metaphors, so dear to us and so precious for imagining a new season of blossoming facilitated by live performances among the itches of brambles and carnivorous plants.

This edition will only be possible with the collaboration of the entire community, a common gesture that offers a fresh start to our new social life and gives fuel to a severely damaged business sector so strongly connected to the many cultural activities of Santarcangelo. This is going to be a Festival that hosts mainly national artists, yet we are not afraid of being local: in times of new beginnings it is above all necessary to look at each other and rely on long-time alliances, on kinships and trust and on mutual commitments. This is a valuable opportunity to zoom in and look at the current situation of our artistic scenario, torn by weeks of lock-down and unbalanced subsidies. Reclaiming the value of our work an labor, we open a hybrid space where physical offline presence in the public space coexists with a digital online dimension: still valuing the many compelling and interesting cultural initiatives launched in these days, such as newly born radios, streaming and online activities, we strongly feel the urgency to come back as bodies in the space, to trigger those synergies that only the arts can light up, when the encounter in one place of actors and viewers sparkles the fire of the spectacle.

Those who think at a Festival in times of crisis as a frill, a luxury or just entertainment, are making a huge mistake, for themselves and for the generations to come. We need to revamp not to renounce, to restart not to give up, slowing down the pressure of productivity and work in a new economy able to respect an environment that revolted aggressively against our blind race to accumulation… still we need to overcome the demand for basic needs and keep alive the adrenaline of the intelligence.
It is undeniable that now, even more after the crisis, a big slice of the population is living in poor conditions and in a state of emergency and this is top priority for us too: but a Festival can be a catalyzer of financial resources able to support the most vulnerable ones in the social fabric, this is integrally part of the upcoming edition’s mission. It is going to be an open and accessible Festival, conceived to be experienced even by those who lack of technological devices to see that part of the programme that, for mayor forces, will be live streamed. We are indeed partnering with a tv channel to open a special TV show with a viral schedule that magically waves TV, performances and films offering an international gateway with interventions of artists, thinkers and colleagues from around the globe we were already in conversation with. We look back at the golden age of TV, as a social space for deep discussions far form the current gossipy studios and noisy quarrels.

A Festival is also a celebration, a ritual for the senses and for a community, that can heal from fears and unlock relationships stuck in time, a Festival is oxygen for imaginative and emotional fires, is cathartic and generative. A Festival is something evanescence, made of ephemeral and transitory events, but still able to leave traces and inject the economy, producing real life impacts, value and job places.
And it is the result of the concrete and hard work of many, a complex machine of cultural workers, artists, technicians, managers that stay behind: these are precarious categories in the cultural sector, with no structural subsidy or regular income, people that look at tomorrow in a state of permanent uncertainty yet considering this flexibility as the most valuable richness, to live with agility as “athlete of the heart” on the edge of a dreadful future.
Let’s open the dancefloor… even on board of a sinking ship.
We want to close quoting Quotidianacom, an artistic collective from our Region, and an abstract form their contribution to our Dream Suq:

To evoke a sense of beginning.
In a fantastic future, humans can stay close without deeply hurting one another, so deeply to make them choose solitudes or deny solidarity.
In a fantastic future, elderly can run like rabbits just for the sake of it and their pleasure.
Dream kills rhetoric.
Dream births salvation.

Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande / Motus