The GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo is pleased to announce “Thinking Like a Mountain”: a widespread cultural program that, starting on 16 May 2024 and for the following two years, will involve not only the museum itself, but also the territory of the Province of Bergamo, with the aim to create an itinerary of shared artistic experiences in order to reflect on issues of sustainability and community.
The program envisages the involvement, over two years, of twenty artists or groups of artists, operating throughout various geographical and cultural contexts in the planning and implementation of a widespread program of events shared with local communities, including interventions in the public space, collective performances and creative workshops.
The first featured artists of the two-year period are Sonia Boyce, Lin May Saeed, Studio Ossidiana in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale, Chiara Gambirasio, and Mercedes Azpilicueta, working in Bergamo, Dalmine, Brembate, and Castione della Presolana.
“Thinking like a Mountain” is an expression coined by American ecologist and environmentalist Aldo Leopold in his book A Sand County Almanac (1949). In the context of the project, Leopold’s expression summarizes and interprets the desire to adopt an alternative point of view—from “a certain distance” —on society and on our actions, in order to foster a fascination for the Earth and an evolved and participatory environmental sensitivity in the territorial context.
The territory in which the project will unfold comprises a highly diverse context, where natural landscapes and highly industrialized urban areas coexist within a complex ecosystem: from the massifs of the Alpine and pre-Alpine range, to the lower elevations of the Bergamo Valleys, through to the urban forests of the Colli di Bergamo Park and the fluvial and agricultural areas of the Bassa Bergamasca (the Bergamo Plain).
The program aims to create a network of productive realities that support the local cultural industry and to add value to the people, knowledge and processes from which the excellence of local manufacturing and industrial products emerge.
An online magazine will accompany the project throughout its development, collecting critical texts, reports and audiovisual contributions, produced by the working group. Topics will range from contemporary arts to design, from architecture to agriculture, from human geography to anthropology. The magazine’s editorial headquarters will be based at the GAMeC.
Sala delle Capriate, Palazzo della Ragione, Bergamo Alta
May 17 – September 22, 2024
Winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale (2022), British artist Sonia Boyce (London, 1962), will develop on the occasion of Thinking Like a Mountain a site-specific project for the Sala delle Capriate in Palazzo della Ragione, entitled Benevolence.
Her artistic practice addresses issues of identity, social dynamics, cultural difference, and forms of marginalisation, and has developed overtime in an increasingly collaborative manner, engaging audiences in situations that are playful and sometimes provocative.
For Benevolence, Boyce has approached the Bergamo territory and its history with curiosity, focusing her attention on folk songs, in particular on the songs of the Alpini, which originated during World War I in the mountain infantry corps, and on songs linked to the WWII partisan Resistance such as “Bella Ciao”, which since WWII has become a beacon for all forms of resistance throughout the world.
To carry out the work, Boyce initiated a collaboration with three students from the Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali “Gaetano Donizetti” in Bergamo, who were invited, during the autumn of 2023, to perform and improvise traditional mountainside folk songs from the balconies of three buildings overlooking Piazza Vecchia. The filming made on that occasion will be presented in the Sala delle Capriate in the form of a single environmental work.
LIN MAY SAEED
May 17 – September 22, 2024
As part of the Thinking Like a Mountain project, and in connection with the ninth edition of the Biennale Gherdëina curated by Lorenzo Giusti, an anthological exhibition dedicated to the work of German artist Lin May Saeed (Würzburg, 1973), who passed away last August, will be presented simultaneously in Bergamo and Ortisei.
The artist dedicated her research to empathy with the animal world, to overcoming the conflict between humans and other species, imagining a utopian future of coexistence, free from the principles of exploitation and abuse.
Her practice, which ranges from sculpture to bas-relief, from drawing to cut paper, often favoring Styrofoam, focuses on the production of works populated by animals of various geographical origins, and human figures from stories, fables and myths, creating cross-cultural and cross-species narratives projected into an alternative common future.
The installation in GAMeC’s Spazio Zero will focus on animal figures—including dogs, pangolins, panthers, hyenas, calves, anteaters, and jackals—and will emphasize the centrality the artist intended to restore to them as opposed to the condition of subalternity to which humanity has relegated them. Represented through life-sized sculptures and bas-reliefs, the animals become outright protagonists in the exhibition space as individuals endowed with their own psychology, and not as objects.
in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale
From May 17, 2024
In spring 2024, GAMeC will present to the public the Massi Erratici project, developed by Studio Ossidiana in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale, which will reconfigure the museum’s accessible spaces through modular surfaces and volumes designed to accommodate multiple activities.
These contemporary “stones” will move like a tangram figure, to be reconfigured as needs be in orderly or random, formal or informal arrangements, introducing an element of play to the use of the museum space given by the modularity of the pieces. Massi Erratici is developed on various scales, starting from a basic module. The solid modules are accompanied in every space of the hall by semi-transparent curtains, in an interplay of alternating weights and textures, in memory of another great industrial tradition of Bergamo: that of textiles.
Studio Ossidiana’s work combines pigments, stones, sand, and circular concrete in various ratios. On this occasion, sourcing will be done locally, and local artisans will be involved in processing, in order to draw on the long history of production in the Bergamo area, while reducing transport-related costs and emissions. Thanks to the partnership with Frantoio Sociale—a traveling research project by Studio GISTO + Hund Studio—waste materials will be converted into new raw materials for the production of the elements, thus making demolition a collaborative practice that generates a circular process of revalorization.
Massi Erratici is among the winning projects of the first edition of the public contest Architetture Sostenibili per i luoghi della cultura (“Sustainable Architecture for Cultural Venues”): a research project promoted by the Ministry of Culture’s General Directorate for Contemporary Creativity to promote contemporary Italian architecture, with the aim of contributing to the implementation of more sustainable global development. The Fondazione Architetti Bergamo and the Ordine degli Architetti Pianificatori Paesaggisti e Conservatori della Provincia di Bergamo are project partners.
From May 17, 2024
On the occasion of Thinking Like a Mountain, the artist Chiara Gambirasio (Bergamo, 1996) will present a participatory intervention in collaboration with the Fondazione Dalmine, established by TenarisDalmine with the aim of promoting industrial culture starting from the preservation and enhancement of the company’s own historical archives through exhibitions and events, seminars and training moments involving families, students and educational institutions, enthusiasts and experts throughout the local territory.
Empty time, which the mountainside inevitably places us before, will be one of the points of reflection shared with participants with a view to creating a bridge between the world of doing and that of being. The outcome of this shared journey will be presented in Castione della Presolana, in the upper Seriana Valley, near the former TenarisDalmine summer camp. Here the work will dialogue with the natural context in which it is inserted, and in particular with light and weather conditions, key elements with which Chiara Gambirasio’s works constantly come into contact, emphasizing its sense of mutability.
Color and the void constitute the focus of the research of Chiara Gambirasio, so much so that the artist coined the term Kenoscromìa (from the Greek kenos, emptiness, and kromìa, color) to describe the chromatic vibration of and in the void, where emptiness represents the space of potential and color is the means by which to intuitively and subjectively perceive the world. For the artist, color and the void thus become two conditions in which to “reside” in order to learn to feel beyond the immediately perceptible: the cosmos and interiority, but also geological time that escapes the reach of memory.
From May 17, 2024
Mercedes Azpilicueta (La Plata, 1981) will be a guest at the third edition of ON AIR – Argentina-Italia Art Residency. The residency, to be held in 2024 at GAMeC, will lead to the staging of a new performance, focusing on the themes of sustainability and participation—values which lie at the heart of the biennial program. In particular, the performative action will take place at the Nuova Demi Biodiversity Oasis in Brembate, on the outskirts of Bergamo: a nature reserve that stands out for the diversity of the fauna and flora that inhabit it, and that constitutes the driving force behind a project of environmental reappraisal and recovery undertaken by the Nuova Demi in the wake of the area’s past use for sand and gravel quarrying activities. The Oasis, normally closed to the public, will be opened on the occasion of the performance.
A visual artist and performer, Argentinian by birth and resident in Amsterdam, Mercedes Azpilicueta frequently collaborates with archives, libraries, historians, dancers, textile designers, and urban planners to give life to her highly layered installations, in which tapestries, free-standing sculptures, videos, objects, and salvaged materials blend seamlessly with architectural elements.
Her works cross both history and geography to give voice to unheard and dissident figures from the past, with stories, myths, and legends through which to explore the affective qualities and political dimension of language and voice, the processes underpinning the formation of cultural memories, and the construction of gender and subjectivity.
Thinking Like a Mountain is a project by the GAMeC
Artistic Director: Lorenzo Giusti
Associate Curators: Sara Fumagalli, Marta Papini
Head of Magazine: Valentina Gervasoni