Lucca Biennale Cartasia 2021


It is an eagerly awaited appointment that sees paper and the city of Lucca as protagonists. An event that was supposed to be held last summer, which, however, due to the pandemic was postponed to August/September this year. The tenth edition of Lucca Biennale Cartasia 2021 is starting in the Tuscan city.

It is not just an art exhibition, but a tool for design, architecture and creativity, a mix of development projects, events, lectures and workshops. First organised in the town of Lucca (Italy), an important European paper district, it is an inclusive international competition open to all: artists, designers and architects, both well-known or not yet famous, but certainly innovative and prominent figures in the world of Paper Art, who are invited to exhibit their works in the Outdoor and Indoor exhibitions or in the Design & Architecture and Performance sections.

We are talking about Lucca Biennale Cartasia, a place for sharing ideas and information and an occasion for growth also thanks to the Network Days, i.e. conferences and networking events that allow exchanges between artists and professionals, and the Educational Labs, i.e. creative workshops designed to guide children to discover paper art through workshops inspired by the works on display. Let’s see together the sections that characterize this important Italian and at the same time international event dedicated to art and paper.

The theme of 2021: fear and desire

This is the theme selected for the tenth edition of the Lucca Biennale Cartasia. Fear, which has always had an important role, like guiding us, on a small scale, and depicting human history, on a large scale. Through fear, humans understand and recognise their limits, choosing whether to challenge, overcome them, of be overwhelmed. And, on the other hand, desire, which is necessary, as it is the basis for inspiration. Desire means motivation, movement, search for pleasure. Even though it usually has a positive meaning, desire hides a dark side; desires – real or induced – can shape the aspirations, prospects, future of humanity, the community and contemporary societies.

Outdoor art

Let’s start for the outdoors. The Outdoor section is one of the symbols of the event and represents its beating heart with monumental sculptures in paper and cardboard. The works were created by international guest artists in art residency for a month in Lucca, in which they create, in symbiosis with the city, the monumental works that will subsequently be exhibited.

The guest artists meet daily in a workshop where they have at their disposal the material, the equipment and all the technical support necessary to realize their art vision: an opportunity that allows them to compare the different cultures and technical knowledge of each artist.

At the beginning of the event the works are placed in the beautiful squares of Lucca, becoming a wonderful attraction for all visitors to the city: monumental works exhibited in the squares, as incredible as they are difficult to imagine.

The following are some outdoor finalists: Claudio Acuña (Chile), Papier Atelier (Turkey), Sebastian Blomqvist (Sweden), TOMA! (Italy/Spain), Amber Dohrenwend (USA), Ankon Mitra (India), Matteo Raciti with Officina Chiodo Fisso (Italy) and Emma Hardy (USA).

Indoor art

The Indoor section concerns works made with the most refined and varied papers, with new and complex techniques, exhibited in paper and cardboard settings realized ad hoc for each edition.

The exhibition venues are the former comics museum Ex Museo del Fumetto, i.e. the former comics museum, and the Ex Cavallerizza, i.e. the former horse riding school.

Indoor art includes works of plastic art, printmaking, drawing, origami, sculpture, and video art.

The following are some indoor finalists: Neda Shafiee (Iran), Min Hee Kim (South Korea), Elisabetta Bonuccelli (Italy), Eszter Bornemisza (Hungary), Brigitte Amarger (France), Ingrid Stockmann (Germany) Camilla Gurgone (Italy) and Elsa Ohana (France).

The performance

The ART Performance section is one of the most immersive and powerful means of expression available to an artist, and consists of experimental and contemporary performances of performance art on paper, held outdoors or in picturesque places in the city, with international artists who use paper media as a tool to stimulate, denounce, criticize, tell.

The section this year sees an extensive program currently being prepared. The guideline provides for a program of eight art residencies, one for each week of the Biennale in the period August/September 2021, in which the artist lives the city, permeates it and implements a symbiotic relationship of exchange with it, building his/her performance and offering it to the city on more than one occasion within the week.

Participating artists will include: Jacobo Alonso (Mexico), Elisabetta Bonuccelli (Italy) and Davide Francesca (Italy). 

Focus 2021: Japan

Each edition, the Focus section is dedicated to a guest country and it is an opportunity to understand how paper is experienced as a medium, as well as how it used and represented in a particular country.

The host country for 2021 is Japan, i.e. one of the nations that has contributed most to the development of paper as an expressive and artistic medium, the home of origami and washi paper. There will be an exhibition with works by Japanese artists, events that recall Japanese culture, pavilions that recreate the image of the country, such as the tea house or the Zen garden. 


One of the most interesting and experimental sections of Lucca Biennale is certainly the one dedicated to architecture. In the last 15 years or so, a real sub-discipline specialized in the construction of buildings with materials, such as paper and cardboard, has developed, mainly thanks to great visionaries such as the Japanese Shigeru Ban.

Lucca Biennale seeks to explore this area by challenging artists and architects to come up with projects that seem almost impossible to realize, which, instead, prove the versatility of paper as a material. Not just architectural challenges and visionary designs: paper structures can offer new solutions to social problems, such as homelessness for homeless people, refugees or displaced persons.


Fashion, along with art, is one of the creative fields where research into materials is always taken to extremes. The constant drive to push boundaries and identify new textile structures has led designers to experiment and use unusual materials, such as paper. This the reason why Lucca Biennale Cartasia cannot but include within its sections a special stage for Fashion, for all the creative artists who work on garments and accessories made of paper and cardboard.

There are many who achieve decidedly surprising results, managing to create shapes, designs and fabrics that do not seem possible to exist. In other cases, however, these materials prove to be so malleable and ductile that they no longer look like paper, turning into real pieces of haute couture.

During its 2021 edition, the Lucca Biennale Cartasia intends to organize, in addition to the exhibition of the works, a real fashion show worthy of the greatest fashion catwalks. The Fashion section will exhibit works of art by renowned artists, like Marcella Stilo, Giovanna Bittante, Susy Manzo, Renata Fukuda, Anna Maria Scocozza.

Network Days (NeD)

Besides being a reference point for contemporary art lovers, Lucca Biennale is also an important paper art event in the world: an opportunity to meet other artists from all over the world and have a fruitful exchange with them, thanks to the Network Days (NeD).

The NeDs take place on the opening weekend of the Lucca Biennale, i.e. on July 30 and August 1, 2021, and provide participants – artists, cultural experts, curators, art lovers, designers and architects, art teachers – with a stage to discuss the latest developments in the sector through debates, panels, screenings and convivial networking moments. For example, they will talk about PaperArt, i.e. what it is, what techniques exist, examples and stories; Architecture in Paper, i.e. the different use of a sustainable material, Paper Invention, and what innovations, discoveries, research see paper as the protagonist.

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Over the years, one of the strong points of Lucca Biennale has undoubtedly been that of creating, alongside the exhibitions, a schedule of diversified collateral events. Workshops with experienced paper art artists, workshops for children or outdoor events: during the two months of the event there are weekly events designed for all audiences. There are the Fun events, i.e. events open to all, spectacular situations related to paper art in which you can participate without age limit, the only requirement being the desire to experience up close the art in paper. For the young and the very young, the Edu events are organized, i.e. meetings for children and young people who approach the world of paper art and contemporary art in general. Finally, the section concludes with Workshops, i.e. workshops for adults, held by renowned paper art artists: meetings designed, in particular, for those who have already approached paper art and wish to learn techniques and professional approaches.

Lucca Biennale OFF

One of the most eagerly awaited novelties for the 2021 edition is the brand new Lucca Biennale OFF section, which aims to create a circuit of art spread throughout the city’s various businesses, both commercial and other businesses, also to contribute to the economic revival of the commercial activities of Lucca’s historic centre, inviting the public to visit the exhibitions inside these businesses. For the Biennale, this is an important opportunity to support the city that has been hosting it for ten editions now.

For the first time, alongside the Outdoor and Indoor exhibitions, it will be possible to visit shops, restaurants and places in the city of Lucca to see works created ad hoc by the selected artists. This year LuBiCa has chosen 30 artists from all over the world who will bring their colourful works to as many locations in the city.

The Biennale OFF allows art on paper to reach everyone walking through the streets of Lucca’s historic centre. In these times of a pandemic, it is also a way for the Biennale to support shopkeepers in resuming their activities.

The artists of the Biennale OFF will be Aldo Righetti (Italy), Alessandro Sorbera (Italy), Asano Kotoaki (Japan), Aurora Bresci (Italy), Carmel Ilan (Israele), Christiaam Diedericks (South Africa), Cristina Musiani (Italia), Daniela Borri (Italy), Emanuele Tarchini (Italy), Erika Zutere (Latvia), Genevieve Dumas (Canada), Georganne Watters (USA), Giovanni Zuffi (Italy), Hongyun He Hongyun (Germany), Jeannine De Raeymaecker (Belgium), Lilian Prebisch (Argentina), Luca Giannotti (Italy), Lucrezia Minerva (Italy), Massimo Missiroli (Italy), Michele Bruna (Italy), Monica Mauro (Italy), Nobuko Murakami (Japan), Pierangela Orecchia (Italy), Pierluigi Colombo (Italy), Roberta Picerno (Italy), Valerie Leydet (France), Sabrina Zacchi (Italy), Renata Fukuda (Japan), Lili Labus (Hungary), Kyoko Takei (Japan).