For the last two years there has been an art project in preparation to put an artist in residence in all of the rifugi in Tuscany (the rifugi are huts that are dotted around on the mountainside’s to give refuge to climbers and walkers.) This project known as “Margini” has been prepared by the Associazione Gestori Rifugi Alpi Apuane e Appennini and a group of local artists who have been active in this area for many years.
After two conferences in Lucca (articles here) which gave space and time to the politicians to talk about the aims of the project, finally this summer “Margini” moved into a more proactive stage with the first pilot scheme putting five artists in the Rifugio Rossi on La Pania – the mountain which stands over Barga and dominates this whole valley.
During July and August and September the five artists; Claudia Haberkern, Silvia Magrini, Fabrizio Da Prato, Stefano Giovacchini and Keane have been staying at the Rifugio Rossi and making art out in the open on the mountainside.
At the end of this month the project comes to an end and all the installations so far mounted will be dismantled and the mountain will return to its original pristine condition.
The “Margini” project has not been being without its critics though as some viewers have found the work difficult to understand or even recognise as art work.
Some even expressed doubts as to the value of art works on the mountain and one or two even going so far as to show their displeasure by destroying sections of the work. A 9 m long wooden installation by the Fabrizio Da Prato featuring what he termed a “pioneer species” which was erected close to the path leading to the summit of La Pania was destroyed (images here) along with parts of another installation by the Lucca artist Silvia Magrini. (images here)
The subtitle for the whole project “artistic exploration” pretty well summed up what most of the artists were actually trying to do: explore the area and their reactions to it rather than actually making or producing finished art products.
The German artist Claudia Haberkern for instance opened up a cave which had been sealed for generations. Known locally as the “cheese cave” it had been used, as the name suggests, as a cool damp place to store cheese. Her installation inside the cave was only visible to those brave enough to enter and explore for themselves. (images here)
Another Lucca artist Stefano Giovacchini experimented with patterns on the rocks using compacted dried leaves. Most of his work only lasting a few days before the sometimes extreme weather conditions at 1600 m returned the rocks to their original condition. (images here)
Keane who in the past (images here from 2003) has exhibited paintings based on the painted signs used by CAI to mark the trails across the mountains continued this theme this time using the small stacks of stones which the shepherds used to mark the paths across the mountainside when conditions made visibility poor.
Keane’s path did not finish on the mountain but continued down into the valley with the final stack of stones appearing miraculously in the middle of Aristo’s bar in Barga Vecchia. (images here)
A reference to Bruna Cordati’s book – “Il Paese di Pietra” perhaps?
The Margini website can be seen here
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