EMPACT - Empathy and Sustainability: The Art of Thinking Like a Mountain

Nature, Art & Habitat invites the presentation of the projects:

Lì by Francesco Pedrini and Leonardo Caffo &

I Am In Between Forces and I Am Gravity by Elena Nemkova and Petra Gruber

Sala Viterbi, sede della Provincia di Bergamo, Via T. Tasso (BG) 23 October 2023 | 17:00 – 18.30 CET

NAHR presents the four-handed art projects by artist Francesco Pedrini and philosopher Leonardo Caffo and I Am In Between Forces and I Am Gravity by artist Elena Nemkova and architect and biodesign expert Petra Gruber.

The projects are part of the European project EMPACT – Empathy and Sustainability: The Art of Thinking like a Mountain and are protected under the working frame of NAHR, an eco-laboratory dedicated to the relationship with nature.

They were carried out as part of a uniquely interdisciplinary process in which the two pairs of researchers + artists confronted each other for the development of a common investigation, sharing knowledge and methodologies throughout the process.

In particular, Francesco Pedrini and Leonardo Caffo started with the idea of intercepting the wind. For this purpose, Pedrini has created a complex detection device: a discreet hut intended to be mounted in the forest, out of which a number of anemometers emerge. In the hut it is possible for a person to hide oneself and to leave traces of one’s presence on its walls in the form of drawings; but the project can also work without being inhabited. In fact, this mimetic observation point represents a metaphor for being receptive to our surroundings. Moreover, throughout the project process, Pedrini and Caffo took turns, mostly from a distance, in writing a common notebook. In a genuine expression of sympathy and empathy, the pages were filled with personal reflections, words, drawings and quotations. Just like the wind, which is an uncontrollable process, that has no objective, and thanks to which unpredictable things can happen, the notebook became a catalyst place of experiences, thoughts, feelings.

In a second phase of the project, the hut housed on its walls, in addition to the drawings already made, other signs and phrases taken from the notebook, and a video where the wind and the words from the notebook read by Leonardo Caffo will be fused. The title of the project, (word which means <<there>> in Italian) refers to a phrase that Gilles Deleuze attributes to Proust in his Alphabet book under the letter V for voyage: Deleuze argues that traveling is useless except if, as Proust does, one considers the traveler in the same way as the dreamer: «the true dreamer is the one who goes to verify that the colour he has dreamt really exists, there».

Elena Nemkova and Petra Gruber have developed a project that stands between art and science, based on Gruber’s (and her team) research into the structure and function of natural elements. Nemkova, who has always been close to scientific research and interested in the internal structure of natural elements and their capacity to change, was inspired by Gruber’s texts on the connection between the morphology of leaves and their thermoregulatory capacity. She emphasized the analytical and poetic dimensions of these phenomena. Gruber and Nemkova’s joint exploration took the form of an experience: a performative walk in the woods in which the architect, the artist and an ethologist, Enrico Bassi, took turns in highlighting the relationship existing in nature between function, context, and the formal principles of the elements that make up an ecosystem. On the path of this walk were a number of panels painted with different types of leaves, in which Nemkova gave visual form to the thought process resulting from the collaboration. The walk was followed by a workshop session that involved all of the participants.

In both cases, the projects resulted in an invite to exercise active observation and listening. The converging gazes showed how enriching the interdisciplinary approach can be when paired with an empathic disposition which can have unpredictable and happy consequences.

Thus, in keeping with NAHR‘s vocation and EMPACT’s intentions, both groups have elaborated on the theme of empathy from studying natural phenomena. Phenomena that is most of the time unnoticed, but which, when observed by trained eyes, reveal much more meaning than is normally attributed to them.

The event will be moderated by Gabi Scardi, president of Nature Art & Habitat Residency (NAHR) and project manager of EMPACT. Gabi Scardi, who curated the two projects, is an art critic, curator, lecturer and writer based in Milan. Her field of research is mainly focused on art on the public sphere and on contemporary collaborative methodologies.

Roberto Amaddeo from the Bergamo Province will welcome all at the opening of the evening.

The presentations will be followed by an open participatory debate on the topics that have been addressed by the speakers.

Participation is free of charge and open to all those interested in exploring the issues addressed in the event; artists, arts managers, cultural professionals, researchers, educators, students or representatives of companies interested in promoting culture.

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Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.