“Is it possible to reinvent mountains?” A question that Emanuele Montibeller, artist from Borgo Valsugana, Charlotte Strobele, philosopher of Austrian origin, and Enrico Ferrari, architect, painter and urbanist, had asked themselves in the mid-eighties. And they answered this question, by creating Arte Sella, a contemporary art exhibition immersed in nature, set in the mountains and the woods of the Val di Sella, in Trentino, Italy. The scope? Create a continuous dialogue between creativity and nature, where the artist is not the exclusive protagonist, as in the artistic movement of “land art”.
"We have invited some artists to reinvent our territory, to give a different interpretation to our places“, says Emanuele Montibeller, artistic director of Arte Sella, that was founded as association in 1986.
“At first we, as artists, felt as strangers in our own territory because we introduced a different language”, explains Montibeller. “There must be a vision in order to renew a territory”. Cultural territories renew themselves thanks to new ideas and experiences. Our initial idea was to make art in nature, in order to bring creativity to our mountains. Tourism came later.
Over the years Arte Sella has become a destination for a different kind of tourism… “Public art gives meaning to the territory, therefore it attracts tourism, and usually, a responsible tourism, that gives an added value to the territory”, explains Montibeller.
Arte Sella celebrates this year 30 years of activity: a long artistic and cultural research path, a unique creative process, that has so far involved 300 artists from all over the world.
Many are the initiatives to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Arte Sella: on Saturday the 30th of July Malga Costa (Costa Lodge) will host the event: “La natura del pensiero” (“The nature of thought), featuring internationally-known artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, Marco Aime, anthropologist and writer, and Brunetto Salvarani, teologist, essayist and Italian literary critic.
On Saturday the 13th of August the documentary: “ Arte Sella-La città delle idee”, (“Arte Sella – City of Ideas”) of Luca Bergamaschi and Katia Bernardi will be screened. It is the story of a year lived “in a out-of-time place”, told through the voices of its protagonists: Luc Schuiten, Belgian visionary architect, Reiner Gross, artist from Berlin, Floriano, carpenter and site manager, and Emanuele Montibeller, artistic director of Arte Sella.
The journey at Arte Sella is focused in two areas: the Arte e Natura itinerary, where artists and nature become one thing , and Malga Costa (Costa Lodge), centre of exhibitions, such as concerts, workshops and photo exhibitions. Every year from 60 to 70 thousand people visit Arte Sella.
What is the secret of the international success of Arte Sella? “We have become international because we believe in our places. The secret is believing and living our places, and keeping on working, no matter what people may say”, explains Montibeller.
Arte Sella is one of the most important exhibitions of the artistic movement Art in Nature, “where for the first time in the history of art the ecological value becomes an aesthetic value. Differently from land art, that denounced the environmental issue, Art in Nature tries to find solutions to environmental problems”, explains Montibeller. It is significant that Arte Sella was born in 1986, the year of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster.
Artists produce on site installations, deep in nature: only by living the mountain artists can create works of art in symbiosis with the surrounding environment. Made out of trunks, branches, leaves and stones, these are temporary, ephemeral works of art: they are going to return to nature and to its vital cycle. “This way the focus is turned on the objective, which is not to own works of art, but to enjoy them”, says Montibeller.
"In 90-95% of cases these works of art will disappear and the space they occupied will be reinvented by other artists", says Emanuele Montibeller.
Arte Sella has become an opportunity for experimentation and for creative growth, in continuos dialogue with the worlds of music, photography and culture.
While there are works that disappear, there are others that grow. Like the famous “Cattedrale vegetale” (“Vegetable Cathedral)" by Giulio Mauri, started in 2011. It is built with more than 3 thousand branches stranded in the form of a huge, 1220 square meters, 3 nave cathedral, with 80 columns, each one 12 meters tall. Inside each column there is a plant of hornbeam, that once grown will take the place of the existent structure, which will disappear.
Cover picture: Aeneas Wilder - Without title . Copyright Arte Sella.