This article is published in number 23 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until June 8, 2021
The love for my land leads me to turn on a light on an incredible socio-cultural experiment that takes place every year in Topolò, a small hamlet of Grimacco, in the province of Udine. It is a semi-desert village, perhaps with thirty inhabitants, located on the border with Slovenia. In this remote and almost ghost town, however, every summer for 28 years (this year from 2 to 18 July, ed), thanks to the vision of Moreno Miorelli and Donatella Ruttar, a magic happens: its streets are populated by artists from all over the world who create works, installations, stage concerts, experiment between various disciplines, create embassies of other nations ; all together they create a great daydream that lasts two weeks.
Thus, if for the rest of the year Topolò is a village almost forgotten by the world, for fifteen days it becomes the center of the world. This is why it is not correct to call it a festival, let’s simply call it Stazione Topolò – Postaja Topolove.
It seems the proposal of a different society, of a different humanity, based on experiences and not on material things. It is the boldness of creating in an extremely isolated place where living conditions are not easy. Ed it is one of the aspects of art that I am most passionate about: encounters with oneself and with others, the culture that unhinges patterns through human exchange. A kind of stretching of values: let’s see how much we can pull them, let’s see where they arrive; probably to touch the sky. It gives me the idea of a huge provocation, because if great things can be created in such a small village, what could we do with more powerful means?
I met Topolò thanks to my friend Pier Grassetti, musician and artist, who created the Bay of Topolò there, represented in an imaginary postcard of the town: surrounded by the sea, with sailing boats on the water. And then that postcard turned into an event in which there were the sounds and smells of the sea, so as to create a feeling that remains in that place and in the people who have been there.
Topolò is located on the far eastern border with Slovenia and for us who come from that land the border is a concept that has always been part of our lives. My grandmother was Croatian and Pier’s grandmother was Slovenian, but we all have names, relatives, friends scattered in the neighboring territories. This border that was the Iron Curtain today is only virtual, but for many it is a gigantic barrier. For us, however, it is a great resource. Topolò is on the far edge and every year a significant cross-border walk is organized in Slovenia. You go and come back. In Topolò everything takes place in
an atmosphere of informality, events never have a precise temporal location, a performance can be “after sunset”, “at dawn”, “in the night”. And we live in great promiscuity, because the spaces are very small, and so the distance between artist and spectator is almost canceled. A beautiful revolution.
(Pier Grassetti collaborated)
Notes from the past – (photo above) In Topolò, a hamlet of Grimacco (Udine), the musician Marija Miorelli in a performance created by the English artist Jez riley French in 2013.
Photo Maria Silvano
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