Is there such a thing as Mediterranean design? Yes, and La Biennale dello Stretto is one of the answers
La Biennale dello Stretto, the First International Exhibition of Art, Architecture, Landscape, Writing, Video, Photography of the Strait of Messina, is a project that expresses itself in the different disciplines. In fact, La Biennale dello Stretto does not simply host objects of art and architecture, but aspires to reinvent a place. It is an ephemeral yet powerful event that gives Forte Batteria Siacci a meaning and a permanent identity.
The sand covering the floor of the “entrance aisle” compensates for the unevenness of the original stone floor dating back from1888, the year the Fort was completed, and invites visitors to share the space. The imposing corridor almost looks like a dry dock; from the stage for talks the perspective widens and leads to the halls housing the exhibition. Projects were submitted through the international call to action, the challenge to action aimed at architects under 35, as well as by various artists.
Forte Batteria Siacci, the Umbertine fortification located on the Calabrian side of the Strait of Messina, thus becomes a spontaneous promenade through time. The space takes on a secular monumentality; its new dimension is celebrated through civic function. If it is true that places exist because of the people who inhabit them, Forte Batteria Siacci will also be remembered for La Biennale dello Stretto and for the people who animated it.
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Real and imaginary: Mediterranean design
Recognition of the Mediterranean capacity (particularly of the Southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area) for design is a point of debate that broadens the vision and frees design from its geographical location in the North (of both Italy and Europe). However, “Mediterranean-ness” is not just a label; it is feeling and action; it is sensibility drawing on history and geography, light, smells and sounds.
Moreover, the Biennial’s theme, water lines, prompts reflection on whether and how design can play its part in a respectful collective journey toward water as a subject of design. Giulio Iacchetti, Antonio Aricò, ADI President Luciano Galimberti, Vincenzo Castellana, Gianni Di Matteo from Rete Museale Bellicina, Pino Scaglione from Università di Trento, Salvatore Greco, Francesco Alati from ADI Calabria, Marco Predari from Universal Selecta, Ernesto Giovanetti from Pellini, journalist Giorgio Tartaro took part in the debate.
Does Mediterranean design exist, then? The answer is yes, it does exist and it feeds on vernacular tradition. From ceramics to other objects in the history of Sicily, Calabria, and the Strait, the whole South is linked to places.
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The curators of La Biennale dello Stretto
The curators of La Biennale dello Stretto are Alfonso Femia, architect, urban planner and designer, founder of the international practice currently called Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia / AF517, with offices in Genoa, Milan and Paris, and Francesca Moraci, born in Messina, architect and Professor of Urban Planning at Università Mediterranea in Reggio Calabria.
The first edition of La Biennale dello Stretto continues until December 15, 2022. The exhibition of architecture and art, photography and design hosted at Forte Batteria Siacci opened on September 30. Alongside the exhibition, a first session of talks was held, ending on October 4. Two more sessions will follow, on November 25 and 26, and December 16 and 17.
All photos are by Stefano Anzini, courtesy of La Biennale dello Stretto.
La Biennale dello Stretto 2022 – Le tre linee d’acqua
curated by Alfonso Femia and Francesca Moraci
Campo Calabro, Batteria Forte Siacci, September 30 – December 15, 2022
Reggio Calabria, Scilla, Messina
September 30 – October 4 ,2022
November 25 – 26
December 16 – 17, 2022