Laura Pugno tells us about her experience with middle school students involved in the ALL’APERTO workshop in Trivero
In 2016, the ALL’APERTO project has further strengthened its ties with the community of Trivero by organizing workshops for school kids. To find out more about one part of this initiative we interviewed Laura Pugno, an artist born in Trivero, who has been working on the “See you in the center” project with 3rd grade students from middle schools.
All the works created for the ALL’APERTO project stem from relationships with the community of Trivero. This project in particular is dedicated to young people and the territory: can you describe what it’s about?
The project is closely linked to the community of Trivero and focuses on its having some 37 wards spread out across a very large area. This means the town hall, for example, is in a different ward from the main churches and certain other places important for the town’s social life. In such a scattered situation, it’s interesting to ponder the sort of image young students have of their town. The “See you in the center” project moves along three lines, each involving the kids’ sensibilities in different ways. The first is their identification of the center (or centers). They are asked to call to mind a map of Trivero, say what for them are the most significant ‘centers’ and state the reasons why, of which there are several (frequenting friends, games, contact with nature, sport, etc.). The second is the development of a representation of the identified center. This representation will initially come from Google Maps Street View, and then they’ll be invited to take photos of their own center. The third will be a personalization of that representation. It’s clear that while the first phase is of sociological and psychological interest, the other two have markedly artistic aspects: firstly the passage from segment of landscape to image and then the students’ creative work on that image. The material thus produced will be collected in a book about/map of the places reflecting the perception - partly physical but mostly emotional – the kids have of their territory. The workshops are organized with assistance from DiogeneLab (Alessandro Allera and Raffaella Giorcelli).
As you’ve just explained, Trivero is an extraordinary township comprising 37 wards across a vast area. Do you remember how you perceived such a “scattered” town when you were a kid? What were your “centers”?
Trivero always seemed an immense place to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen all its wards. That none of them is actually called “Trivero” is pretty odd. Trivero is just a geographical name that keeps the many wards united. This characteristic was pointed out to me by ‘outsiders’, in exactly the way that the British who turned up at the end of the 18th century suggested to us that mountains were objects of observation and desire. For me, my centers were the square by the church in the ward of Gioia, where my family home still is, and a meadow at Piane di Barbato, where I used to go to steep myself in nature, taking my books with me.
Today’s kids keep in touch using the web and social networks. Have kids’ perceptions of the places where they live changed with respect to when you were their age?
I think it’s very probable that their perception of places is considerably different, and not just in Trivero. They move around trusting in technology that enables them to pay less attention to their surroundings and not have to memorize too much. They use their modern mobile phones as portable archives, potentially shareable at any time. They’re more confident in their movements and quicker. In a way, it’s as if the world had no more surprises for them, at least not as long as they stay connected. It was with this new capacity to effortlessly take photos in mind that I drew their attention to the repertory of images that the web offers of their town and to how that repertory may be different from their personal vision, in which experience, affections and stories interact with their view of things, thus characterizing the photo.
The place where you lived, surrounded by mountains and characterized by a strong vocation for textiles, influenced your art work, your artistic sensibility?
The place an artist is born and bred in obviously conditions his or her sensibility. That said, the mountains and mountain life were for a long time embedded in my unconscious mind. Only later on did they become objects to reflect on, at which point it was easier for me to notice the stereotypes in the cultural vision of this habitat. Mountain landscapes are a strong presence in my work in fact. The images I use are from photos I took in various parts of the Alps, some of them from along the Zegna Panoramic road. On your second point, I’d say there was no direct influence, mainly because none of my family worked in the textiles industry. Maybe there was some indirect influence though: as a “local”, I was able to benefit from the various public works that the firm of Zegna built over the decades.
What has it done for you for to come back to Trivero, as an artist, for the “All’Aperto” project and work in the place where you were born?
I’ve obviously learnt things by being able to see for myself how the place has evolved, all the more so because I’ve been working with “exponents” of a very new generation. But it’s also been positive on an emotional level, as I’m sure you can imagine.
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