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Changing the world

“We are here because we want to try to change the world around us through sustainability, people, culture, beauty, and by raising awareness of these issues in communities and governments on the one hand, and by inspiring small municipalities to think differently on the other.”
These were the words by Giovanni Oliva, Director General of the Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation, at the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, bringing to an end the second International Forum as part of the European Capitals of Culture Day, organized by the Foundation in partnership with the Commissioner General of Italy and under the patronage of the European Commission”.

Culture greate connections

The session, moderated by Beatriz Garcia, Associate Director of the Centre for Cultural Value at the University of Leeds, explored how culture is able to create connections between overcrowded and sparsely populated areas, presenting the activities that the European Capitals of Culture are conducting in this context. In particular, Veszprem Balaton 2023, represented by Friderika Mike, Director of Programme Development, is working with the community to harness the potential offered by the lake environment surrounding the city.
Eleusis 2022, with Chryssa Martini, Director of Premises & Infrastructure, Location Planning of the Artistic Programme, extols the architectural beauty of the past, leveraging its reputation as one of the “mysterious” cities of antiquity. Oulu 2026, with Mika Vierimaa, Head Of Administration, on the other hand, puts biodiversity at the center of its cultural proposal, working both on flora and fauna, and on the appreciation and valorization of local crops for culinary uses.

For Matera 2019, Giovanni Oliva talked about the different projects in which the various municipalities of the Basilicata region have participated. Among these for example Pietrapertosa and Tricarico, two of the Lucanian centers that still preserve traces of their Arab origins. This aspect was highlighted through two projects carried out together with Matera 2019: the work of the Palestinian artist Emily Jacir for the community garden in Pietrapertosa, illustrated by mayor Maria Cavuoti, and one of the stages of the participatory art project of Vinicio and Mariangela Capossela, “Trenodia”, conducted in the Arab quarter of Tricarico, as described by mayor Vincenzo Carbone.

participatory art

The connections between European and Arab culture were also at the heart of the performance “Open Sound – Dubai Session,” which had evolved from one of the original projects of Matera 2019 and the local creative scene, in which the sounds of Arab tradition met and fused with those of the Lucanian tradition and, in turn, with electronic music.
On October 28 and 29 in the aperitif area of the Italy Pavilion and then again in the Amphitheatre on October 30 at the end of the Ecoc Day, the audience was invited to dance during the performance, born from a co-creation and cultural hybridization work made by Gaetano Dragotta, aka go-Dratta (producer), the Arab musician Imad Kawala (caval) and the traditional musicians from Basilicata, Agostino Cortese (percussion and cupa-cupa friction drum) and Alberico Larato (bagpipes and lyre). The backdrop for the musicians was provided by the images of the Open Sound Festival, co-produced by Multietnica and Fondazione Matera Basilicata 2019, staged for the programme of the European Capital of Culture.

Performer and ambassador

“After three years of work on the Open Sound project – said Alioscia Bisceglia, in the dual role of performer and ambassador of the project – being here at the Expo in Dubai is definitely a huge gratification. It is an important and complex location, due to its gigantic scope. What we have come to realize is that the codes we have synthesized in our library in Lucania and reworked in a contemporary way, have aroused the attention of a very heterogeneous audience, especially among Arab music lovers. Italy is a country through which many cultures have passed, and in the South the Arabs have left various traces in our cultural heritage, from architecture to food. Now we have discovered that they have left us something in music, too. Open Sound is a project of cross-fertilization, just like the Expo, conceived centuries ago, bringing together cultures from all over the world. We are therefore in the right place.”

Another initiative for promoting encounters between people from different parts of the world, united by the desire to learn by playing, was “The ECoC game”, a moving workshop on cultural geography developed and produced by the Open Design School of Matera 2019. More than 80 people embarked on the journey for discovering stories and curious facts about the European Capitals of Culture through an immersive game. Among them were visitors to the Italian Pavilion (including families with children), Expo volunteers and representatives of the participating ECoCs. For the latter in particular, the game proved to be a useful team-building tool for project planning. In addition to being available in the program of activities of the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai, the “The ECoC game” can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested: the kit can be downloaded from the Open Design School website.