Fantastic Future: a shapeshifting festival of jellyfish, cyborgs, and companion species is the name of the theater festival scheduled to take place in Santarcangelo, in Italy’s Rimini province, from July 8 through 18, 2021. I interviewed Chiara Organtini, curator of How to Be Together and European Projects, and architect Matteo Ascani of AMA | Matteo Ascani, designer of the festival’s structures.
The event forms the second “movement” of FUTURO FANTASTICO | Santarcangelo Festival 2050. In other words, it’s the final instalment of an event that began in 2020 with the 50th anniversary of the Santarcangelo Theater Festival – which featured the exceptional artistic direction of the Motus company. The pandemic, however, forced the festival to reschedule, which is why it’s now been spread out over two years.
During this long and extraordinary period, various events were planned, including a winter event for young theater companies. But again the pandemic intervened. This event nevertheless went ahead, transforming itself into Winter Is Locking Down, a twelve-hour-long streaming marathon that acted as a meeting place for exchanging views and visions.
Chiara Organtini says that this year’s festival was conceived as a kind of movement, since it has many of the features of a musical composition in that it isn’t linear or rigid, but open and dynamic. The event will be ten days in the life of a complex, sprawling organism – as indicated by the title – with events and performances throughout the city almost 24 hours a day. The performances will radiate outwards from Santarcangelo’s central square and into every street in its historic center, spilling over into places that are usually anything but entertainment venues, including stores, the walls of the town’s ancient sports arena, and, in particular, its parks. The town’s Baden-Powell Park will become a focal point of the entire festival, hosting an art ecovillage entitled How to Be Together.
“This festival isn’t only characterized by its strong tendency to be multidisciplinary, but also interdisciplinary,” explains Organtini. “There will be many works that involve cinema, photography, and music – a kind of crosspollination of different artistic languages. And then it’s also international, with companies from South America and, via the internet, Asia and Africa.”
How to Be Together is a kind of temporary art installation that’s also the accommodation for a group residency involving fifty international artists. It’s a pilot art experiment created in collaboration with five leading international educational institutions: Amsterdam’s DAS Theater, the Kask Conservatorium in Ghent, the DAMU in Prague, Lausanne’s La Manufacture, and Venice’s IUAV. It’s registered as part of the international Art Beyond Participation – BEPART project, funded by the Creative Europe program.
How to Be Together was built using recycled materials from old theater sets, arranged into new forms. It’s a sustainable creation with zero effect on the land, comprising a series of platforms and elements suspended in the trees. The ecovillage will be home to performers throughout the festival. An area will be created for preparing and eating meals. Another safe area will be built for storing belongings. And another area will be set up where the artists, divided into groups, will work every day on five installations, acting as meeting points for sharing the various moments of the day. The sleeping areas will be built on a natural slope, with platforms where the artists can pitch their tents. The platforms will be modular and, given their small size, will be easily relocatable, including indoors.
Besides the layout proposed by the organizers and the supporting structures created by AMA, another interesting feature of the ecovillage is that it will give its guests the chance to remodel the spaces they use during the day in any way they wish, thanks to the flexibility of all the parts that make up the structure.
“We used very simple materials, often recycled or, if new, easily reusable,” explains Matteo Ascani. “Partly because of Covid restrictions, each resident in the ecovillage will live in a cluster, while also being part of a larger group of fifty, who, in turn, will be able to connect with any residents of Santarcangelo who happen to take a stroll into the woods where the camp is set up. It would be wonderful if some of the 55 platforms that we’ll be building for the festival could become permanent structures.”
Organtini and Ascani’s enthusiasm is contagious and demonstrates the commitment of this organization to go one step further – despite all the challenges of this period – to offer the town and its residents a festival that’s full of events and performances. But it’s also a showcase of artistic experimentation in which architecture and design are used as a language for interpreting the local area and providing sustainable, flexible structures that are in harmony with the place and the town.
The two confess that the aim is to open the festival to new experiences that can eventually become regular events. It’s all about sowing seeds for the future, encouraging the local people to see their own town in a new light, and putting forward new ideas on how to use the park, which might again be transformed in the future.
So, I wish the very best to this innovative and “reckless” festival, and look forward to reporting on how it went after it closes.
For further information: FUTURO FANTASTICO | Santarcangelo Festival 2050
All credits are indicated in the gallery on each single photo.
Project photos © AMA | MATTEO ASCANI
Thanks to Matteo Ascani and Chiara Organtini