A New Alliance between men and plants that allows the union of the two to strengthen and protect both: here it is NEW ALLIANCE, a path that connects the precarious condition that unites the plant species at risk and the green spaces and sociality that are also at risk. To make it in Italy, from an ideqa of an American collective, the PAV (Living Art Park) of Turin: Orietta Brombin, responsible for the educational and training activities of the PAV, he talks about the workshops and the planting of 100 saplings to signal what, in the global precariousness, must be safeguarded.
1) What is New Alliances? Why is it called that? Who collaborates with you?
The project New Alliance was born from an in-depth theoretical research carried out by the Critical Art Ensemble, a militant US collective, which notes the worrying precariousness that characterizes our historical-social period. New Alliance is an artistic-environmental process that intends to creatively turn precariousness and its effects.
In the workshop of the same name in November 2011, the first public seminar conducted in Italy by the Critical Art Ensemble, after 4 days of discussions and interventions by experts (Daniele Fazio, agronomist expert in environmental legislation, and Filippo Alossa, botanist and gardener), this is how to choose to act through a plant, the Catananche caerulea, to mark the areas at risk.
2) Why this plant?
It is quite robust and is widespread in inconsistent and calcareous soils, and is therefore capable of growing in residual areas, ruins and rubble. Catananches are beautiful perennial herbaceous plants belonging to the Asteraceae family and in Ancient Greece it was believed that the infusion of beautiful lilac-blue flowers had the power to make those who drink it fall in love, hence the popular name of "Cupid's Arrow "Or Cupidone. Today, although these plants enjoy a legal status established by European, national and regional regulations that qualify them as "species with absolute protection" (pursuant to art. 15 of LR 32/1982), their seeds are easily available because they can be directly obtained. from this initial operation.
3) In what context does it fit? Who takes part?
The project New Alliance is part of the Art program of the PAV which is an experimental center of contemporary art in the city and is partly part of the ZonArte project, which connects the Educational Departments of the main museums of the City and the Region and is implemented with the support of the Foundation for the Modern and Contemporary Art CRT of Turin.
We wanted to bring the workshop New Alliance also within the Turin Contemporary Art Fair to create a strong precedent, where alongside the economic value of the works in the galleries and the cultural value of the representative works of the Museums was accompanied by the value of the active experimentation of the public to whom the opportunity to work directly with artists.
4) What do you mean by "socio-political symbiosis between the plant world and human beings"? How to make it concrete?
The political analysis expressed by the Critical Art Ensemble (Steve Kurtz, Steven Barnes and Lucia Sommer) underlines how plant and animal species are today at risk as much as communities hit by an economic crisis that endangers working and social conditions and cultural. The precariousness in which the plants at risk of extinction it is the same precariousness experienced by individuals who, just today, are re-evaluating the practices of urban horticulture, seen as a source of subsistence.
In many countries, where at least the endangered flora enjoys legal protection, there are laws that severely punish the collection or damage of certain plant species: if well understood, these laws can become a tool for habitat protection battles. .
In the light of these analyzes, the EWC proposes to reverse the process of precariousness into a positive and constructive force opposed to the general condition of today. The areas at risk can thus be protected by a form of socio-political symbiosis between inhabitants and the plant world, born from the recognition of the same condition of biological and cultural precariousness, from the awareness of the common state of objective interdependence.
5) “Look in the mirror and see the world”: what is it about?
"Looking in the mirror and seeing the world" is the preparation cycle for the meeting in November with the Critical Art Ensemble: it lasted from May to November 2011, developed with the collaboration of Iacopo Seri, a young artist from Arezzo.
The course studied the relationship between people and nature within the urban context, in a self-education environment characterized by the sharing of individual knowledge and experiences. Ideas and material on different themes were gradually collected: urban projects of shared gardens, types of urban and terrace gardens, current legislation, advertising and contemporary lifestyle. All the material with the history of the route was collected in a diary and, online, in a blog.
6) From the beginning of your project to today, what have you achieved?
We have carried out numerous inspections to explore interstitial urban areas and to observe and collect data on the spontaneous flora of the sites visited. We sowed in spring 2012, and subsequently cultivated, the Catananche caerulea in the course of a long process of imagination, observation, study, action, waiting and care, respecting the natural growth times of the plants.
In September 2012, the 100 plants with absolute protection were ready to go into action. On the occasion of the return of the long journey, the exhibition set up at the PAV, has completed the planting of the Catananches in some sites of the city that are worth guarding for their social and cultural value.
The American Collective has prepared the critical "manifesto" and to deepen the whole theoretical and practical path New Alliance method an interdisciplinary exhibition was set up at the PAV in Turin. Among the various materials produced, there is also a broader list of plants protected according to the regulations of the Piedmont Region, and the map of the undecided areas of the city created in collaboration with the Contrada Torino Onlus Foundation.
7) How was the Turin area involved?
Some communities have been identified with which to resist the risk of loss, lack of protection and the exploitation of the territory. With these assumptions, Sunday 23 September 2012, the grown plants were planted in various reception areas that are worth guarding for their cultural, educational and therapeutic value: the artist residences Progetto Diogene Bivaccourbano, the Ortobello courtyard at the Center in the Day Center of the “Basaglia” Department of Mental Health of the TO2 ASL and the temporary Bunker project of the URBE - Urban Regeneration Collective, built on a former industrial area.
These are four green and social spaces, all in their own way at risk, located within the urban fabric of Turin.