“Attraversamenti” – A Festival in Ostuni to Promote Integration Between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula

Project location: ITALY, Ostuni
Project start date: September 2013 - Project end date: December 2013
Project number: 2013-026
Beneficiary: presentecontinuo


Problem: The vast Balkans region has historically carried an undesirable reputation due to historical reasons. However, the longstanding relations between Italy, and Puglia in particular, are now calling for better integration and the need for communication between the two. Especially considering the topics such as immigration.

The project as a solution: The project "Attraversamenti" is an initiative seeking to open communication, increase the interaction and narrow the gap between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula. Historically a source of tension the Balkans are vast a region rich of culture and history, as is Italy. The project is seeking to create better interaction and integration for the two regions especially considering trade and populations migration, calling for better integration and interaction between the two.
With the objective to lay the foundations to bridge the East and West over the Adriatic Sea, "Attraversamenti" offers the optimal platform of interaction for this purpose.
Seeking to commence with an initial event three-day event in September 2013, the initiative ultimately aims to create and provide continuous support to overcome stereotypes and preconceptions leading the way through cultural awareness and interaction, for the development of long-lasting bond between the Balkans and Italy.
At the heart of this initiative are the cultural and intellectual interactions, the enables for creating a bond and better communication between the two regions.
The rationale behind the project is the belief that it is mainly though cultural encounters that societies evolve and are able to truly connect.

"Attraversamenti" is not only a Festival but a long-term project dedicated to the establishment of cultural relations between Italy, with Puglia as a focus, and the Balkans. The driving force behind this project is the aim to create a "think-tank" like environment to support idea sharing and opportunities and avoid brain drain.
The Project proposes a series of activities though a main kick-off event creating a platform for strong interaction.
The contents of the event include the finest cultural works from both Puglia and Balkans regions, and are curated by a highly expert team to ensure effective communication approach and to facilitate the expression and comprehension of the material.

Strategically the event will be structured as follows:
• Event range. "Attraversamenti" will involve the whole town, facilitating the participation of the community to the event. By doing so the target audience is widened ensuring the involvement local residents, tourists and cultural and art enthusiasts and allowing for greater impact of the initiative.
• Culture in action. "Attraversamenti" operating model supports the utilization of local resources together with the introduction of new ones. This is achieved by involving and valuing local realities, such as cultural associations and local business owner; in parallel to new international themes, such as cultural innovations and business models.

• The events are undertaken over three days and fall under one of the following categories: in Art, Architecture, Meet & Inform, Food, Theatre & Dance, Music, Cinema.(Full schedule and details list under Project Timetable section)
• Puglia is the Italian region most involved in the interaction with the Balkans due to both geographical and historical reasons. The commercial involvement between the regions on the Adriatic shores is so remarkable that European Union has recently suggested to consider the whole area as one (Adriatic-Ioan Macroregion, UE). This further strengthens the need for Attraversamenti as a bonding platform.

As a historic node of exchange and getaway to Eastern Europe Ostuni, famous for the elegance of its white presence, has been chosen as ideal location for the event. The event will be set up around the whole town offering an optimal system of interaction and exploration.

At the heart of the "Attraversamenti" initiative there are three core geopolitical and cultural themes:

1) The Adriatic
Throughout history the Adriatic Sea has been a node of commerce rich of cultures, traditions and religions. A Political divide between east and west whilst a point of connection for the continuous historical intertwining of its cultures.
Moreover, the Adriatic rim is a source of migration and immigration and its stereotypes often based on a distorted sense "of origin". It is in this frame of mind that the event seeks to bridge the communication beyond preconceptions.

2) New Cultural maps
In the context of "Attraversamenti" uncovering new cultural maps means to identify and observe the subjective transnational and social experiences. Nowadays, culture is subject to continuous interactions of ideas and identities, constantly absorbing and slowly changing, creating new cultural characteristics becoming more about social integration than separate philosophies.
The Balkans are often associated with tensions, "Attraversamenti" offers to look beyond this notion and look at the existence of the cultural flows depicting a different perspective.
The event does not propose a mere pairing between Puglia and the Balkans, but a much stronger and profounder link based on cultural interaction and connection.

3) Nomad Identities
Globalization has facilitated interactions around the globe narrowing the gaps of geographic distance and communication allowing for individuals to connect regardless of spatial location. It is in this context that nomad identity is born. In opposition to the conventional concept of identity, the "nomad" takes part in various cultures and values absorbing different places and the experiences this brings. The Nomad is therefore a challenge for the idea of the individual as part of a jurisdiction and its political ties.
An identity is formed by the entirety of the experiences encountered by an individual regardless of categories. This offers a blank page, a neutral space where to build new paths and ideas. It is here that "Attraversamenti" comes into play.

The project commences with the organization for the kick off event in September and seeks to continue with the development of a long term supporting platform generated with the results of the event (ie. Lessons learned)

 Pre- September event: Organization for events with relevant stakeholders for engagement.
Location: Based in Rome with travel to Ostuni for set up
Event: 6-7-8- september 2013
Location: Ostuni

Exhibition: "Identità nomade"
Date: 6 September/5 October
Concept: The exhibition evolves from both Italian and Balkanise artworks that investigate the geographical rationale for differences, whilst overlooking clichés and bias though complexities.
Curated by : presentecontinuo

"Attraversamenti" photo competition
Date: 6 September / 15 September
Location: Ostuni Townhall
Concept: The exhibition displays the photographic artwork of the finalists from the ‘La Frontiera' photo contest for young people in Italy and the Balkans. The topic of the conetct is ‘The Borders' (literally , ‘La frontiera")
Curated by : ExFadda (cultural district of San Vito dei Normanni, BR, http://www.exfadda.it) and presentecontinuo

Exhibition: "Lo spazio dopo"
Date: 6 september / 5 october
Location: Palazzo del Seminario
Concept: The photo and video exhibition on the topic of "Ricostruzione" (literally reconstruction")
Curated by: Marta Francocci (art historian, producer and anchorwoman for "Mi chiamo città" rainews24)

Exhibition: "Vita al muro"
Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Ostuni town. Street Walls
Concept: The visual exhibition to be displayed on the town's traditional white walls. The topic is "daily life" with the aim to challenge stereotypes and tell a story about ‘the other'.
Curated by: Marta Francocci (art historian, producer and anchorwoman for "Mi chiamo città" rainews24)

MEET & INFORM Sessions
Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Palazzo del Seminario, Chiostro del Comune, Ex Convento benedettino, Talks on stage
Concept: This is a core informative part of the event. The topics of discussion are specific and heterogeneous: from immigration to culture as a tool for development, from the international exchanges between the two shores to the concept of productive coexistence and renewable energy.
Curated by: Osservatorio dei Balcani e Caucaso (www.balcanicaucaso.org), La nuova Energia (distretto http://www.lanuovaenergia.it/)

Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Don Altelmi Steps
Concept: Projections of short film of young film directors and artists who, though personal stories, and documentaries, report the history of the Balkans in recent years whilst investigating insights on topics such as immigration and the concept of "foreigner" .
Curated by: Osservatorio dei Balcani e Caucaso (www.balcanicaucaso.org)

Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Piazza della Libertà, Don Altelmi steps, Ostuni town streets
Concept: Every evening on stage there will be performances form local newcomers and Balkanise singer songwriters with the aim to offer a insight into the contrasts and similarities between the two. Moreover,, in addition to the evening concerts, the music will be an integrated part of the event "L'Aperitivo Nomade".
Curated by: Ex-fadda(cultural district of San Vito dei Normanni, BR, http://www.exfadda.it)

Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Ostuni town streets
Concept: Theatre and dance companies will perform unique shows around the streets of the town ultimately ‘voicing' the meaning of the event.

Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Ostuni town streets
Concept: The opportunity to meet and whilst enjoying aperitifs, finger food and music. It's moment to relax appreciating musical and artistic performances form Italy and the Balkans.
Curated by: Casbah caffè

The Mediterranean Diet
Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Ostuni town streets
Concept: The Mediterranean diet is taken as a cultural model and a tool for sustainability. Meetings, documentaries, degustation and workshops will be performed to explore the topic.
Curated by: IAM - Istituto agronomico Mediterraneo (http://www.iamb.it/ )

Notes of Gastronomy
Date: 6-7-8 September
Location: Ostuni town streets
Concept: Each country participating will have a stand in collaboration with the corresponding embassy.
Curated by: Slow Food

Extra- Ordinary Visits
Date: 7-8 September
Location: Ostuni town centre
Concept: Itineraries dedicated to the history and reconstruction of Ostuni opened to the public for the event.
Curated by: presentecontinuo

It is foreseen than the event will bring significant benefits to the relationship between the two regions. Although difficult to quantify at first it is understandable that with time, an improved relationship will result in increased commerce and cultural tourism. The first results will be brought by the opening event itself. These are listed below Benefits
• Incentive for the two regions to know each other
• Promotion of market interaction between East and West
• Promotion for the knowledge of the history and cultures of the two regions
• Creation of the network of collaboration between cultural institution in the tow regions
• Promotion of young talents
• Brain collaboration through "Think Tank" like environment
• Creation of national and international networks and partnerships for both the private and public sectors
• Re-launch of Ostuni's public image as a centre for cultural interaction
• Value creation for local produce and initiatives
• Increased commercial value for the town
• Media Interest


This project received an additional grant in 2014 outlined in the link to the left, Project description [2014-035]

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