Florence, unveiled the [non]festival of popular and unpopular narratives, the festival where the biggies are the citizens

Presented in Florence the [non]festival of popular and unpopular narratives. It will be held from October 6 to November 30, 2018 in three municipalities of Empolese Valdelsa.

The [non]festival of popular (and unpopular) narratives, entitled There are always words, was presented this morning in Florence at the headquarters of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.This is the first “widespread” festival on narratives and storytelling that focuses on people and their life stories. The festival will take place from October 6 to November 30, 2018 in three municipalities of theEmpolese Valdelsa region (Montelupo Fiorentino, Capraia and Limite, and Montespertoli) and will be an event that through storytelling and listening will rebuild connections within the community by cementing empathy, in a historical moment where interpersonal relationships are filtered by the virtuality of communications: thus, bringing everyday stories to light becomes a means through which people find each other, listen to each other and recognize each other. This is the first edition of a “non-festival” where the word told live is the heart and soul of the initiative.

The festival, the brainchild of Andrea Zanetti, who together with Cinzia Compalati is also its artistic director, is promoted by MuDEV - Museo Diffuso Empolese Valdelsa and YAB - Young Artist Bay, and supported by the Region of Tuscany and Fondazione CR Firenze, media partner Finestre sull’Arte. It will be divided into three distinct moments: the start will be given to the exhibition J.O.B.S. - Join Our Blended Stories. Stories of workers on display (at the Palazzo Podestarile in Montelupo Fiorentino from Oct. 6 to Dec. 16, 2018), a contemporary art group show, curated by Andrea Zanetti and promoted by Cgil, Cisl and Uil of Florence, which will tell the world of work through workers’ objects reinterpreted by sixteen contemporary artists (Emiliano Bagnato, Cristina Balsotti, Carolina Barbieri, Lorenzo Devoti, Sabrina Feroci, Paolo Fiorellini, Lorena Huertas, Stefano Lanzardo, Roberta Montaruli, Enrica Pizzicori, Aurore Pornin, Francesco Ricci, Eleonora Roaro, Francesco Siani, Stefano Siani, Zino). Then, from Nov. 9 to 11, it will get into full swing with I racconti dei Cittadini, at various venues in Capraia and Limite: local residents, accompanied by professional actors, will tell their stories to the audience in a convivial exchange of words and emotions. Finally, on November 30, the closure will be entrusted to the event The Popular Narratives, a concert by Ginevra Di Marco inspired by the stories of the citizens: in parallel, already two months before the concert, ten classes of the Empolese Valdelsa will follow the production of the refined Tuscan artist by becoming her “bloggers” and telling the behind-the-scenes stories via web and social.

There are always words wants to distinguish itself for its innovation: it is in fact a diffuse festival both temporally and territorially, a festival without bigwigs, which reverses roles, where the protagonists are the citizens, and which intends to musealize the community, moreover posing itself as an event that can be remodeled and reproduced in other places, wherever there are stories to tell. The community thus becomes both actor and stage at the same time. The places chosen for the stories will also become fundamental in the regenerative process of individual and territorial identity.

“The Museo Diffuso Empolese Valdelsa,” said Barbara Tosti, head of the art and culture sector of CR Florence, “has the right skills for preservation and for enhancement, and also for the inclusion of citizenship: it can therefore enter strategic content for the implementation of our identity. The [non]festival is part of Fondazione CR Firenze’s strategic action to enhance the territory’s identity and culture, to make citizens participate in an active and inclusive way.”

“This festival,” Cinzia Compalati emphasizes, “allows us to make a lunge on the theme of community, and it has two objectives. The first is scientific and also quite ambitious: we want to try to find a museological methodology that allows us to experiment with the musealization of community, understood in the same way as artistic heritage (community is as important to us as a work of art). And we try to musealize it through the stories and themes of the festival. The second goal is to create and recreate a bond with the community, with the citizens, who are the primary users of our museums but are also an incredible human asset that we want to work with. In fact, the key word of the festival is precisely ’human heritage.’ Moreover, the festival has three characteristics of strong innovation: the first is that we have chosen not to host big names. We do not have big names: our big names are the people. The second is to be a diffuse festival, which will take place in different times and territories. Finally, another innovative element is to not be a festival in the traditional sense, so much so that we wanted to call it a [non]festival. However, this is not out of contestation: the festival normally has passive audience members, and we would like to reverse the role, we would like to make the audience transform, to have an active role.”

“We felt the need to go further,” Andrea Zanetti specifies, “we want to recover the ability to listen. A listening capacity that through this festival will subvert roles: it is a listening that is not passive, but a listening that is regenerated so that everyone recognizes themselves in the stories of others, it is a listening that creates connections. We then want to bring out contemporary everyday stories and bring them together with other contemporary everyday stories, because it is through the ability to enter into the story of another that we understand that our concerns are also those of someone else, and positive elements, moments of solidarity, of redemption can thus be discovered. These are seemingly trivial but necessary operations, both culturally and politically. It is said that we need to get used to listening to people again, but we also need to get used to talking better and talking less: listening skills, the ability to use the right words. To emphasize the importance of these aspects, we have also thought, as part of the festival, of specific actions, for example, there will be a tribute to the Empathy Museum in London, which had its success through a seemingly trivial but extraordinary initiative, that of allowing museum visitors to wear shoes that tell the stories of those who had worn them before, and we will imagine something similar.”

“We have so many festivals,” pointed out Giacomo Cucini, mayor delegate for culture and tourism of the Unione Circondario Comuni dell’Empolese Valdelsa. “Each of our municipalities has its own specific festival. The real challenge is to make an Empolese Valdelsa festival, unique and innovative, supported by all the administrations. The [non]festival aims to tell the story of the territory and its key moments from the citizens and the community, making them protagonists, and automatically giving them an in-depth knowledge of the heritage, both in terms of museums and in terms of the territory. Our eleven municipalities want to recreate a sense of community, they want to create encounters and aggregation, and so also with a festival of this kind we aim to not lose traditions, to learn, to reflect through life stories, to grow.”

“Our path,” finally said Francesco Magnelli, musician and longtime collaborator of Ginevra Di Marco, “involves work based on folk tradition, open, however, to all other cultures: knowing one’s own tradition is the starting point for opening up to the world. The festival narrates, starting again from people and citizens: and we will put into music the issues of citizens. This is something new for us as well: perhaps it is the first time we are working so closely with citizens, retrieving their stories to bring them into music and a performance.”

Pictured is a moment from the presentation of the [non]festival of popular (and unpopular) narratives

Florence, unveiled the [non]festival of popular and unpopular narratives, the festival where the biggies are the citizens
Florence, unveiled the [non]festival of popular and unpopular narratives, the festival where the biggies are the citizens

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