Matera Basilicata 2019: a collective journey towards the best possible European Capital of Culture
“Insieme” (Together) is the title of the first dossier which Matera put together in 2014 to present itself as a candidate for the European Capital of Culture for 2019. “Together” is the word that steered all the work carried out since then to build the 2019 program, included in the second dossier with the slogan “Open Future”, to indicate the next step taken on the journey up to that time: to build an open future in all its many facets, through the culture that binds us together.
Today we will present almost the entire program for 2019, so we feel that we have kept the promise we made in our winning dossier. But what makes us truly proud is not talking about what we will do, but how we are doing it.
The program for Matera 2019 is, indeed, a major collective operation based on a process of co-creation; namely, working together with everyone involved, from the writing of the dossier to the design and implementation of all the various activities for 2019. Taken as a whole, these do not merely represent a simple festival of events; they are the result of a unique effort, striving towards a European Capital of Culture that involves constant communication with local creative operators, European partners, institutions, businesses and citizens.
In the “open” spirit of the dossier, the 2019 program also aims to push the boundaries of the city of Matera, extending tour routes and relationships beyond the historical center and the picturesque scenery of the Sassi, to also include the suburban areas of the city – which form an integral part of its history – and the entire Basilicata region, southern Italy and the Mediterranean area.
How many partners are involved? How many operators? How many artists? For how many days? Thanks to the path that leads us to 2019, Matera is at the center of a national cultural debate: a small town tucked away from it all has been able to bring dozens of European partners to work within its territory; it has quadrupled the number of tourists visiting the town, doubled property values, significantly increased its GDP, and attracted enterprises and talented individuals to invest in an area full of opportunities but not yet sufficiently known or promoted.
Our goal is to ensure that this trend continues to grow and bear fruit beyond 2019.
The cultural programme of Matera 2019
Matera's European Capital of Culture programme is spread over 48 weeks beginning with the opening ceremony on 19th January, during which 54 bands, from European Cultural Capitals and the Municipalities in Basilicata, will make their way into Matera playing their instruments. From then on various initiatives will take place every day, many of them at the same time, spread out over different locations in the city of Matera and the Basilicata region. These have the aim of contributing to developing the future, by trying to answer the questions posed by the 5 themes of the candidacy dossier: Roots and Routes, Continuity and Disruptions, Ancient Futures, Utopias and Dystopias, Reflections and Connections.
A good half of the productions are the result of the process of co-creation carried out together with the creative scene of Basilicata, linked to a wide range of artists, networks and national and European institutions. The other half of the program will be implemented through agreements with various European and Italian cultural institutions, starting with the other European Capital of Culture, our friend and twin town Plovdiv, with which we will create three major cultural projects, and exchange the two main exhibitions.
In addition to projects with Plovdiv, various activities will be co-produced with all European States through the network of European Cultural Capitals, as well as major international collaborations with Japan – with which the 27th Edition of Eu Japan Fest will be created – and with Argentina, Jordan and Tunisia.
Obviously, Matera represents Italy: to this end, during the candidacy phase, we proposed the Italia 2019 project, which focuses on the city of Ravenna: the Fondazione Ravenna Manifestazioni is a key partner for the creation of “PURGATORY-Chiamata Pubblica per la Divina Commedia” (PURGATORY-public call for the Divine Comedy) by Dante Alighieri. Many Italian cultural entities will be involved, first and foremost – besides the RAI Radio Televisione Italiana – the oldest Opera House in Italy, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, with which we will produce the Cavalleria Rusticana; this will be the first time an opera has been set up and performed in the Sassi with the community at the forefront. These two events alone involve more than 1,500 citizens from across Italy who will take part in the production phases of the project, with a month of rehearsals and a two-week show for all the temporary citizens who choose Matera as the cultural destination of the year.
Every day during 2019 there will be five activities to do: visit an exhibition; attend a live show; wander through natural trails set up and prepared in an original way; meet a citizen of Matera or Basilicata with whom to discuss the past, present and future of our civilization; and contribute to the construction of the closing exhibition, by bringing an object symbolic of one’s own idea of culture.
The year will unfold as a great story of human history, a great symphony, divided into four seasons and five movements: four major exhibitions that focus on Matera and Basilicata from past to future: “Ars Excavandi” on cave cities throughout the world (organized by architect and urban planner Pietro Laureano, also a Unesco expert; this project will be inaugurated in Matera on 19th January 2019); “Renaissance seen from the South” focusing on the most important cultural events (curated by Marta Ragozzino, Director of the Polo Museale della Basilicata, to open in Matera on 19th April 2019); “The poetics of prime numbers” on science and mathematics with a focus on Pythagoras (curated by Piergiorgio Odifreddi, one of Italy’s foremost scientific communicators; to be inaugurated on 21st June 2019 in Metaponto); “Stratigraphy. Anthropocene Observatory”, which investigates the new geological epoch defined by the actions of man (curated by photographer and film-maker Armin Linke, to be inaugurated in Matera on 6th September 2019).
Alongside these first four chapters there are over 60 original projects, more than one per week, half of them developed by the Basilicata creative scene in collaboration with European partners, and half by the rest of Europe in cooperation with local partners: a mix combining tradition and innovation, along with the analogue and the digital world.
The entire city and the region will be set up in a coherent manner thanks to the work of the Open Design School, an interdisciplinary lab composed of professionals from Basilicata, the rest of Italy and Europe, who will design and create the facilities (stages, set-ups, signage) necessary for the 2019 events. All of this will unfold along five completely unique urban routes, which are also connected to the five themes of the program.
Within the program, the executive design of the I-DEA stands out; a project known as “the archive of the archives”, with the participation of five international artists who will use the main archives of Basilicata as inspiration for five large, memorable, public installations – the first of them curated by a tutelary deity of Italian and European photographic culture, Mario Cresci.
The regional aspect of Matera Basilicata 2019 will be highlighted by the “Capital for a day” project, which will give each municipality of the Basilicata region the opportunity to carry out their activities in line with the values and themes of the Matera 2019 dossier, and to describe the leading figures in Basilicata from the twentieth century: Levi, Olivetti, Pierro, Scotellaro, Sinisgalli and many others. The project integrates well with the initiative promoted together with the Diocese of Matera-Irsina “Paths: discovering the traces of religiosity in the Matera-Basilicata territory”, that will involve all the dioceses of Basilicata with over 100 events – many of them featuring sacred music – that will emphasize the extraordinary ecclesiastical patrimony of the region.
Central to all projects is the scope of involvement and participation of the community, whether that of permanent citizens whom we have defined in our report as “cultural inhabitants”, or of the visitors whom we prefer to invite to be “(con)temporary citizens”.
The commitment of “cultural inhabitants” is evidenced by several major collective projects: not just the artistic ones mentioned above, but especially those which aim to permanently improve the quality of the city. Gardentopia and Lumen are two major utopias that are to build community gardens and paths of light, created by citizens with the help of national and international designers. Over 3,000 people will be featured in laboratories where the theme of light will be used in an original way, becoming an integral part of the opening ceremony.
In addition, through the platform and the physical space of the community – a tool already successfully tried out during the candidacy - every citizen will be able to propose and seek to achieve small projects, together with other entities, that are of benefit to the community.
In addition, visitors to Matera and Basilicata will not only be able to experience a laboratory city, whose program is the result of the collective efforts of those who enabled the construction of the two Rioni Sassi; they will also be entertained with music, film, dance, science; they will meet unique characters, including the world-famous producer Brian Eno, who will bring to Matera on 18th July, at the Cava del Sole, a preview of his new show dedicated to the 50 years since the first man on the moon.
Nobody in Matera will merely be a tourist, everyone will have the opportunity to join in the community aspect that characterizes the path of Matera 2019, thanks to the special “Passport 2019”. This tool will not only allow guests access, at the price of 19 euros, to all events organized by the Foundation in 2019, but will also permit them to acquire temporary citizenship which involves a right and duty: the right to register, and the duty to bring an object to Matera. The collection of different objects will make up the fifth and final exhibition of Matera 2019, “Open Future”, which will detail the passions and lifestyles of people from Italy and Europe who are appreciative of culture.