Sonia Boyce, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Chiara Gambirasio, Lin May Saeed, Studio Ossidiana in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale, and the communities of Bergamo, Brembate, Castione della Presolana, and Dalmine are the first protagonists in the biennial program Thinking Like a Mountain.


On May 17 and 18, 2024, the widespread cultural program “Thinking Like a Mountain” promoted by the GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo opened. For the following two years, it 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, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Chiara Gambirasio, Lin May Saeed, Studio Ossidiana in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale, working in Bergamo, Brembate, Castione della Presolana, and Dalmine.

“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).

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 are based at the GAMeC.

pensarecomeunamontagna.gamec.it


SONIA BOYCE
BENEVOLENCE
Bergamo, Palazzo della Ragione
May 17 – September 22, 2024

On the occasion of the project Thinking Like a Mountain, GAMeC returns to the prestigious Palazzo della Ragione venue, in the heart of the old town, with a new site-specific project conceived for the Sala delle Capriate by the English artist Sonia Boyce (London, 1962).

Since the late 1980s, the artist has addressed themes such as identity, social dynamics as well as racial and gender marginalization in an explicitly political manner. More recently, she has concentrated on experimenting with a relational practice that combines the aesthetic and political values of participation and collaboration, producing works that focus on history and “acoustic” memory, bound together by a love for music, sound and the voice.

The project for Palazzo della Ragione led the artist to approach the Bergamo area and its history with curiosity, and to focus her attention on traditional Italian folksongs.

Boyce embarked on a collaboration project with three students from the “Gaetano Donizetti” Higher Institute of Musical Studies in Bergamo, who were invited last autumn to perform and improvise popular songs in the heart of Bergamo’s “Città Alta.” In particular, the artist and the students noted how Bella Ciao has now become a symbol of global and transgenerational resistance. This song, which resonated spontaneously among passersby during the filming in Piazza Vecchia, provided the starting point for Boyce to undertake a major reflection on the meaning of music, its value over time and its ability to unite, but also to divide.

This dialogue between Sonia Boyce and the students shows a great deal about the process that led to the staging of Benevolence, consisting of six “visual monuments” that occupy the Sala delle Capriate in Palazzo della Ragione. The environmental video installation, which originated from a performance made into a film, has been generated by the artist’s mediation of the video and photographic material filmed.

On the occasion of the exhibition, a new volume of the series of essays, published by Lenz and GAMeC, linked to the exhibition projects staged in the Palazzo della Ragione in Bergamo, will be published. The author will be the artist and sound theorist Brandon LaBelle.


MERCEDES AZPILICUETA
QUE ESTE MUNDO PERMANEZCA
(MAY THIS WORLD REMAIN)

Oasi della Biodiversità, Brembate
May 18, 2024

On the occasion of the first set of events of Thinking Like a Mountain, the Argentinean artist Mercedes Azpilicueta (La Plata, 1981) presents Que este mundo permanezca [“May This World Remain”]: a new participatory performance dedicated to the theme of the rediscovery of natural spaces.

The performative action took place on May 18, 2024, at the Oasi della biodiversità (Biodiversity Reserve) in Brembate, a naturalistic area at the heart of an environmental regeneration and recovery project deployed by the Nuova Demi company following the cessation of gravel and sand-quarrying activities.

For the conception of the performance, developed as part of the framework of the third edition of the ON AIR – Argentina-Italy Art Residency project, the artist was inspired by the peculiarity of this place, a quarry returned to nature, repopulated today by a great variety of plant and animal species. Here, the relationship between man and the environment finds a balance that the artist decided to investigate through performative action, featuring three birds of different species that inhabit the Oasis – the kingfisher, the green woodpecker, and the hoopoe – interpreted by three performers who have developed their own personal interpretation: Antonella Fittipaldi, who has already worked with Azpilicueta in the past, Nicola Forlani, and Aurora Rota, professional dancers and teachers at the Bergamo Art Academy.

The action has been structured in several stages, tracing a path around the stretch of water at the center of the Oasis. Each stage took place in a different natural setting: from reeds to meadows, from woods to bird-nesting areas, allowing spectators to enter the Oasis and perceive the many aspects to it.

The colors of the plumage of the three birds are the main element of the masks and cloaks that the artist has created especially for the occasion, together with costume designer Alberto Allegretti. Together with the gestures of the performers, they have inspired positive feelings in the spectators, evoking the message that Azpilicueta intends to convey through her action: as creatures that have had to face numerous changes and adverse situations such as industrialization, which has altered the face of the landscape, and develop new ways of living in the environment, the three birds are voices of the adaptive capacity of their species to speak of possibilities, potential and transformations.

The Oasis, normally closed to the public, was exceptionally open for the performance.


CHIARA GAMBIRASIO
M’AMA and V’ARCO
Castione della Presolana and Dalmine
From May 18, 2024

On the occasion of Thinking Like a Mountain, and in collaboration with Fondazione Dalmine, artist Chiara Gambirasio (Bergamo, 1996) embarked on a participatory project developed in several stages.

The intervention originally took the form of a workshop featuring a number of “eyewitnesses” who, as young girls, attended the TenarisDalmine summer camp in Castione della Presolana. The women involved were invited by Chiara Gambirasio to relive, rediscover and share experiences and memories related to the time spent at the camp through a work focusing on the use of color.

For the artist, color represents the medium through which to intuitively and subjectively perceive the world, but also a condition in which to “reside,” without the mediation of words, to learn to feel beyond the immediately perceptible: the cosmos and the inner sphere, but also geological time elusive from memory.

For Thinking Like a Mountain Chiara Gambirasio has conceived two sculptures, which have been presented to the public on May 18, 2024. The works speak of relationships, shared experiences, and spatiotemporal trajectories, but also of her enmeshed relationship with nature and the landscape.

M’ama has been devised for the village of Rusio, a small hamlet in the municipality of Castione della Presolana; it evokes the idea of Mother Nature, or a “mother mountain,” and was conceived by the artist as an attempt at rapprochement and reconciliation, both with her own personal experience and with nature itself. The form taken by the work, which features grayish-brown tones at the base, greens and yellows in the central part, and iridescent blues at the top, is that of a mountain merging with a wood stump, in a kind of embrace that the artist hopes will also include visitors, called upon to embrace the sculpture.

V’arco has been set up at the ancient bridge connecting Castione della Presolana to Valle dei Mulini, in the area below the former summer camp. The work constitutes a sort of temporal and spatial arc that unites several dimensions: to the north that of the mountains, with their geological perspective; to the east that of the former camp, with all its emotional bearing; and to the south that of the valley. The orientation of the bridge and arch, comprising an intertwining of branches, painted in the colors of an “earth rainbow,” follows the direction of the sun from East to West, forming a halo of light that frames the peak of Presolana in a sunburst, casting branching shadows across the valley floor.

The documentation of the creative process that led the artist to conceive the exhibition project, through the path shared during the workshop, will be available to visitors at the new Fondazione Dalmine headquarters, together with materials from the photographic archive that will provide evidence of life in the summer camp dating back to the early twentieth century.

V’arco
GPS Coordinates

M’ama
GPS Coordinates


LIN MAY SAEED
GAMeC, Bergamo
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 exhibition paying tribute to the work of the artist Lin May Saeed (1973–2023), will be presented simultaneously in Bergamo and Ortisei.

May Saeed dedicated all her research to the world of animals and the relationships between human and non-human animals, developing a new iconography of interspecies solidarity.

Her practice, which ranges from sculpture to bas-relief, from drawing to cut paper, to 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 focuses on animal figures—including dogs, pangolins, panthers, hyenas, calves, anteaters—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.

Accompanying the exhibitions is a paperback published by Mousse Publishing featuring English, Italian, Arabic, and Ladino-speaking audiences the fables originally written in German by May Saeed. Illustrated with a selection of drawings on paper by the artist, the introduction is by Lorenzo Giusti.


STUDIO OSSIDIANA
in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale
MASSI ERRATICI
GAMeC, Bergamo
From May 17, 2024

The Massi Erratici project, developed by Studio Ossidiana in collaboration with Frantoio Sociale, reconfigures the museum’s accessible spaces through modular surfaces and volumes designed to accommodate multiple activities.

These contemporary “stones” 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.


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