Art&Culture

Art avant-garde in Lucca

Protagonists. Cartasia: alternative uses for paper

When creativity and art meet in a local context linked to a leading tradition, history and future, the final result is Cartasia: an Italian project promoting paper with the language of contemporary art.

Lucca is one of Italy’s most important art towns. It is the main town of the Tuscan province carrying the same name, has nearly 90 thousand inhabitants and is well known also outside the Italian borders for its almost intact Renaissance town walls dating back to the 15th-17th century, which is about 4,223 metres long and stretches around the historic old town. The town walls have been transformed, as early as in the second half of the 19th century, into a pedestrian path, are are among the best preserved, as they have never been used in the past for defence purposes. Also referred to as the «town with the hundred churches», Lucca has an intact old town, where several medieval consecrated and unconsecrated churches of astonishing architectural beauty can be found. To the above, one must add towers and bell towers, as well as monumental palaces from the Renaissance of excellent stylistic linearity.

In this immense richness in historical and monumental heritage, the town, which strongly depends on tourism, boasts a strong industrial sector and lively small and medium-sized businesses, too: it is here that paper production has developed into a cluster in Tuscany, thereby establishing a solid link between its image and the corresponding territory and exerting a strong economic, social and cultural influence on the entire area with marked attention to environmental issues, too. Paper producers have shown great sensitivity on environmental topics: they have carefully managed resources and waste, adopted increasingly sustainable production models and achieved major results from an environmental viewpoint.

The Cartasia project is to be framed in this local context that promotes paper within the language of contemporary art: organized in 2004 for the first time and celebrating its 7th edition in 2014, Cartasia has become a major international event, which continues its worldwide promotion of art avant-garde that uses paper as a means of expression.

Emiliano Galigani, General Director of the Cartasia biennial exhibition.

Emiliano Galigani, General Director of the Cartasia biennial exhibition.

Emiliano Galigani is the General Director of the biennial exhibition. He told us what Cartasia is about and how works are going on for the next 2016 edition, thereby anticipating that some interesting initiatives might be organized before that date. «We invented the Cartasia brand with the precise aim to bring an Italian leading sector, i.e. paper making, on foreign markets», explains Mr. Galigani. «If you think that in the Lucca area we have been producing paper since the 15th century and that the area shows major social and cultural roots to paper, you can easily bring the economic, historical and artistic factor together and rightly talk about Lucca as the world capital of paper, because you won’t find a concentration of this kind nowhere else in the world. This is Made-in-Italy closely linked to a leading production based on tradition, history and future: «the past when it comes to tradition, the presence when it comes to the economic aspects of paper production and the future when it comes to our intention to use art to constantly take ongoing trends into account and consider them for the next five to ten years». But let’s start from the beginning…

The project dates back to 2003 and was based on the idea of combining industry and art. Its first edition was organized in 2004. And preparations for the the 2016 edition are already underway; the event is likely to take place in the month of May, which is considered to be the best given the large number of events organized.

An identikit of Cartasia: artists and visitors

Cartasia attracts young people and art lovers from Italy and abroad. The event is increasingly taking on an international connotation, also in view of the project that will soon turn it into an itinerant exhibition all over the world: only hypotheses have been formulated so far, yet the exhibition is likely to be heading to San Francisco or Brazil as early as December 2015. The exhibition international connotation concerns participants, too, who come from all over the world: «Artists come from Asia, India, Australia, North America, South America, obviously Europe and Russia», says Mr. Galigani. «For our latest edition we received about 160 projects that really came from more or less renowned artists from all over the world. Anyone comes here is confronted with a challenge both when it comes to outdoor sculptures and indoor exhibitions. And everybody has to face the same common problems, i.e. they work in the same period of time, in the same physical space, with the same assistants – the very same language differences are overcome thanks to the possibility to share and face common difficulties.

A town all dressed up with outdoor projects

«Specifically outdoor projects have to meet common requirements: they have to be minimum four metres high, withstand harsh weather and stand without being a danger», says Mr. Galigani, who adds: «When we started dealing with the biennial exhibition we would have never expected to witness such varied forms of creativity and art avant-garde. This is even more important if one considers that works of art are made from poor materials, which yet have an endless expressive potential».

  • Kamila Karst, «Kataphraktos», in corrugated cardboard. The structure of the horse is inspired from two realities: the first is that of industrial architecture, the second is that of Hellenic narrative and figurative tradition. The properties of the material particularly determine the shape of the sculpture. Courtesy of Guido Mencari.
    Kamila Karst, «Kataphraktos», in corrugated cardboard. The structure of the horse is inspired from two realities: the first is that of industrial architecture, the second is that of Hellenic narrative and figurative tradition. The properties of the material particularly determine the shape of the sculpture. Courtesy of Guido Mencari.

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