Do you know that in Piedmont there is a citadel where contemporary art makes itself available to society, to permeate it in all its settings and to improve it with acts of co-responsibility and awareness? It is Cittadellarte in Biella, one of those places where you absolutely must go. Can you imagine the perfect realization of a successful project which develops from a winning idea, with innovative vision, attention to detail, extreme skill and ability? Where nothing is left to chance and where every new initiative is a success and increases the beauty and completeness of the overall project? Here, Cittadellarte is like that.
It was founded in 1994 by the Biellese artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, the genius behind the “Venere degli Stracci” (Venus of the Rags) sculpture at the GAM and the mirror paintings that decorate the renovated room of the restaurant Del Cambio in Turin (a Michelin one star restaurant). With the manifesto “Progetto Arte“, Pistoletto proposed a new role for the artists: their task is to take on the responsibility of making interact all of the human activities that permeate social life: the economy, politics, science, and education. In short, artists must make all the demands of the social fabric their own.
To give a home to his project, he chose Biella, his hometown and the famous capital of the oldest and best known wool and textile district in Italy. And to emphasize the link with the territory he decided to use an abandoned factory, the former Trombetta wool mill, active between 1870 and 1960. Its position in the city is exceptional: directly on the Cervo river, with a marvelous view of the mountains and a musicality given by the impetuous flow of the torrential waters.
The renovation of the buildings was strictly conservative. The visit to the former dye-works, the oldest building in the complex, will leave you breathless. The original wooden vaulted ceiling made from an upturned ship’s hull is in itself an artistic container where Michelangelo Pistoletto has placed his installation “Porte-Uffizi“, which is the spatial representation of the philosophy of Cittadellarte. By physically crossing the various doors, one enters mentally into the various offices of the organization. The doors connect the various disciplines involved in the artistic intervention for the ethical and sustainable change of society.
Continuing the visit, we have the opportunity to learn more about the artistic career of Michelangelo Pistoletto, from performing-arts projects in the street to adherence to the “Arte Povera” (Poor Art) movement, from self-portraits to mirror paintings, from the investigation of his own Art Sign to the reflections on man in the universe. The works are brilliant, the aesthetics are of the highest level and the artist’s personality emerges so strong and attractive and beautiful that when you reach the “Sala delle Colonne” (Room of the Columns), you are already terribly in love with Michelangelo Pistoletto and his artistic flair.
We are now ready to confront and immerse ourselves in the rich proposal of Cittadellarte projects: UNIDEE, the artistic residence of high education for art and social change. B.E.S.T., the fashion project born in 2009 from the idea of Michelangelo Pistoletto and Franca Sozzani, which involves international fashion designers in the bio-ethical sustainability of textiles. Let Eat Be born to encourage the cooperation between the owners of unused land and people who would like to cultivate land, but do not own any and to organize weekly, local fruit and vegetable markets.
Finally, the Third Paradise: an hypothesis of a new phase in which man comes back into contact with nature, represented by the First Paradise, which has been injured and mistreated by the ingenuity and human evolution of the Second Paradise. Not only that, Pistoletto is also the author of the “Love Difference – Mediterranean Table” art installation (also the installation of the same name for Luci d’Artista (Lights of the Artist) on the clock roof of Turin’s Porta Palazzo market area), which opens a table for the dialogue between the people of the Mediterranean, emphasizing the importance and richness brought by their differences.
It is not surprising, therefore, that in 2004 the Department of Political Science of the University of Turin conferred an honorary degree on Michelangelo Pistoletto for having placed the values of contemporary art at the center of a responsible transformation of society. And we like the idea that an excellence of this kind has developed in our Piedmontese territory, to be able to tell everyone: come and see how wonderful it is, let yourself be permeated, and get involved!
Cittadellarte – Pistoletto Foundation
Address: Via Serralunga, 27, 13900 Biella BI
Phone: +39 015 28400
– The spaces of Cittadellarte can be visited only within a guided tour with the following schedule:
Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm; Tuesday to Friday, between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm by reservation only.
– Info: [email protected]
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