Matera 2019

Continuity and disruptions

The Future Digs project is based on the concept of an archaelogical “dig” to be carried out on the theme of the future. The idea is to dig into the future of culture in its many different aspects in order to uncover some issues to be considered.

Matera, 3019. One thousand years later. This was the prompt for the idea of leaping into the future to understand the dreams and visions of a  young generation who wanted to re-create, in the new millennium, a new relationship with urban and green spaces and with a continent, Europe, that was re-thinking forms of living.

The Beautiful Shame is a performance project which lies somewhere between theatre, video, dance and music, taking its cue from the rally that Palmiro Togliatti held in Matera on the 1st April 1948, when he defined the health and hygiene conditions of the Sassi di Matera “a national shame”. Carlo Levi, in his Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ stopped at Eboli), several years earlier, had highlighted the tragedy in which the approximately 20 thousand inhabitants of the Sassi lived, but also the infinite “beauty of Matera”.


We used this oxymoron as our starting point: “can shame be beautiful”? In the case of the history of the Sassi di Matera: yes. Matera’s shame is beauty. In Matera, the people who, because of their living conditions, put civilised Italy to shame were at the same time creators of beauty. So it is from this oxymoron and from this narrative that the project will extend its field of enquiry and narration to the current “beautiful shame” of Basilicata, Italy, Europe and the world.

If, in 1949, Adriano Olivetti suggested safeguarding the beauty of the Sassi, protecting its inhabitants, mainly construction labourers, with plans for residential improvement and by allotting them land that would grant them a dignified job and way of life, what are the current suggestions for solving today’s shame?

Departing from the “beautiful shame” of the Sassi, the project will deal with current “shame”. First and foremost, the flight of people from poor countries, characterised by civil wars or military dictatorships. It will deal with women and children, who, in the search for a new life in Europe, ever more often meet their deaths, drowning in the Mediterranean, now the graveyard of Europe. The Italian region which takes in the highest number of migrants compared to its resident population is Basilicata. We will narrate this flight by using political refugees who live in reception facilities in the southern parts of Basilicata, and who the project aims to “train” together with others, according to the “codes of theatre and of music”.

The event will also narrate the flight of the Byzantine monks in times gone by, who, following the iconoclastic laws of 726 issued by Leo III, set off for the East only to land on the coasts of Southern Italy. Around 50 thousand of these monks disembarked on the Metapontum coast and sailing up the then navigable rivers of Basilicata, made their way inland. Sailing the Bradano, and then the Gravina, they arrived in Matera. Here they started to live in the caves and to paint them. Sailing up the Agri and then the Sauro they arrived at the caves of Guardia Perticara. In this project, the ancient village of Guardia Perticara, which today boasts a“bandiera arancione” (orange flag) making it one of the 200 most beautiful villages in Italy and amongst the 6 most beautiful in Basilicata, takes on a central role.  

The project is targeted to students and visitors who will take part in a series of guided workshops to make a big interactive work that will be able to raise awareness, gather data and act directly on elements, purifying and contributing to the improvement of the biotic environment of the Gravina stream.

Architettura della Vergogna is a psychoanalytic session for European architecture. Starting from the history of Matera, once the national shame and now a Unesco Site, we will ask Europe two questions: could  the places that make us feel ashamed of nowadays be inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List in the future?

It is a multidisciplinary project aimed at creating a new form of journey and visions of a town from the guests/ travellers’ standpoints focused on the artistic expression of four key concepts: emotion, soul of places, memory and time. 

The project’s aim is to set up a performance on the theme of shame with the involvement of internationally-renowned artists.

Teatri Uniti di Basilicata presenta due opere originali di Milo Rau e Roberto Latini che reinterpretano i nuovi miti contemporanei inserendosi nel tema di Cats, eyes and Sirens. Entrambe partono da una riflessione sulle tematiche legate alle contaminazioni ambientali apportate dall’uomo, dalla trasmissione del sapere collettivo mediante fiabe e miti, reinterpretati attraverso opere uniche.

Petroleum, Man and Nature in the Anthropocene takes inspiration from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s unfinished novel Petroleum which exposes the changes currently occurring in the human, social, urban and natural  environment. Ominously looming in the background is petroleum that acts as the driving force of human vicissitudes. The basic theme of the project is the relationship between man and nature in a new geological era –the Anthropocene in which the behavior of the economic and social forces directly impact ecological balance and result in a new dimension of life in society.