The Liminaria festival ran for five editions between 2014 and 2018, culminating with a collateral event in Palermo as part of Manifesta 12 (the nomadic European biennial). Based in the rural territory of Fortore, the frontier between the three regions of Campania, Molise, and Puglia, Liminaria offered residencies and public presentations in which visiting artists worked with local residents to apply sound art methodologies to the unique geographies of this territory. Curators Beatrice Ferrara and Leandro Pisano take this period to reflect upon the successes and challenges of working in the rural south of Italy with virtually no budget, the important solidarities between the south of Italy and the Global South, and their recently published “Manifesto of Rural Futurism.”
Episode 11: RURAL FUTURISM
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Liminaria is “a fieldwork-based research project aimed at developing sustainable cultural, social and economic networks in the Fortore area” of southern Italy. The Fortore river valley is a micro-region located at the intersection of Benevento, Campobasso and Foggia, three provinces from three different regions. Far from the urban centers and tourist destinations of the coasts, Fortore offers a very different perspective into Italian life than one normally encounters. While resisting the Romantic cliches and binaries often associated with the concept of “rurality,” Liminaria’s curators nonetheless put the region’s “marginality” at the center of their curatorial mission. The themes of the five editions of Liminaria (#augmentedrurality, #unmappingtime, Rural Futurism, Coexistence, and Transitions) circle around a core interest in overlapping temporalities, circular time, and intercultural communication.
Liminaria grew out of the Interferenze new arts festival, which was founded by Leandro Pisano in 2003. The first phase of Interferenze projects (2003-2007) was similarly focused on rural territories in the south of Italy, but placed its emphasis on digital arts and electronic music. Liminaria marked a shift in approach, one which underscores a self-reflexive collaboration with the residents of the Fortore region. Visiting artists conceive and carry out “actions” devised jointly with the local communities, resulting in cultural events and performances, as well as foster dynamic social exchanges. As they state in their mission statement, it is through this approach that Liminaria conceptualizes “new models of intervention in rural areas, thus reconfiguring rural territories as dynamic places while revaluing local resources.” Liminaria’s sound art residency program has hosted artists such as Fernando Godoy (Chile), David Vélez (Colombia), and Philip Samartzis (Australia), which has in turn afforded Liminaria the chance to mount exhibitions, projects, and lectures around the world.
This interview was recorded in Napoli in March of 2019. I met with Leandro and Beatrice for a coffee before we relocated to the park within the Monastery of Santa Chiara. I tried to incorporate the background ambient noise as well as I could: the sound of children playing, planes overhead, and the hustle and bustle of one of Napoli’s busiest streets just on the other side of the monastery wall.
Liminaria had come to a close the previous autumn with a collateral event in Palermo as part of Manifesta 12. While the second largest city in the Italian south after Napoli, Palermo is a noisy palimpsest of urban history quite different from the Fortore region where most of Liminaria’s events have been based. Manifesta afforded Liminaria an opportunity to reflect upon the activities and methodologies which arose from across five editions, and to present their findings in a coherent and definitive manner. The program summaries provide a window into the diversity of these projects, as well as the shared themes which have emerged across very different projects: the relationship between people and the land, with nature, with technology, with animals, and with the concept of the future.
Liminaria was presented with another opportunity to synthesize five years worth of insights with The Manifesto of Rural Futurism, an exhibit hosted by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Melbourne, running from 26 July through 11 October 2019. Rural Futurism was indeed the theme of the 2016 edition, but as Beatrice explains in the interview this intervention was made with the complicated history of “Futurism” very much in mind. In Italy, Futurism (and in many ways Modernism itself) is overwhelmingly associated with Fascism and the right wing (even if there was a “minor” leftist current represented by figures such as Cromatico, Ivo Pannaggi, and Umberto Barbaro). In evoking “Rural Futurism,” the curators are aligning themselves with Afro-Futurism and other “minor” futurisms, in opposition to an understanding of history rooted in notions of linear progress (the very types of narratives which have contributed to the marginalization of rural territories from the cultural imaginary).
This episode features a selection of sound art and musical compositions which resulted from the five editions of Liminaria. These works are augmented by some musical compositions which resulted from the Liminaria residency released by Galaverna, a label that Leandro co-runs with Enrico Coniglio, as well as a few works which I felt resonated Liminaria’s themes of rurality. Lastly, this episode is punctuated with field-recordings I made when I visited the Fortore region which Leandro Pisano in 2017, during Philip Samartzis’ residency in San Marco dei Cavoti (the home of torrone, or Italian nougat). In San Marco and Baselice, I experienced the generosity of the locals firsthand. This included a dinner personally prepared by the mayor of San Marco. Special thanks to Leandro and Beatrice, to the people of the Fortore region, and to the volunteers of Liminaria, especially Luca, Esther, Andrea, and Luciana.
Liminaria at Manifesta 12
Manifesto of Rural Futurism exhibit
#1 “Rural futurism” is a challenge responding to the current discourses about rurality as authentic, utopic, anachronistic, provincial, traditional, and stable, and the binaries that support such discourses: belonging vs. alienation, development vs. backwardness.
#2 A critical approach to rurality is necessary, today more than ever before, to imagine other futures for rural communities, territories and places beyond the “otherness” vs. “identity” dichotomy.
#3 It becomes apparent that rurality today cannot be seen merely as a geographical space; rather, it has to be seen as an expression of “positionality”, in terms of an actual political position.
#4 We need to understand rural areas as complex spaces actively immersed in the dynamism of encounters, flows and fluxes of contemporary geographies, and critically question modern discourses of capitalism and metropolitanism in which rural territories are marginalised and considered as doomed to oblivion.
#5 “Rural futurism” addresses the complex dynamics between rural territory and urban space through technoculture, encompassing a range of issues such as “generation” and “time” within local communities (depopulation, movement, resilience and cultural heritage) and the peculiar geophysical characteristics of the place (remoteness, wind, energy, infrastructure and/or lack thereof).
#6 Different (human and non-human) life forms exist and insist on a territory, any territory, and they are mutually implicated in one another. Sometimes, they co-exist together peaceably; at other times, they are in conflict with each other. Conflictual coexistences are valuable too, as they generate “grey zones” within a rural territory, which can productively challenge any inherited notion of “environment”, “nature”, and “ecology”. Through its co-existences (and conflictual co-existences), the rural territory can in fact be approached otherwise, leaving aside contemplative, romantic or decadent clichés about “rurality”.
#7 Even if dominant narratives insist that rural spaces should be relegated to a space-time that can only undergo involution, there are many practices — theoretical, artistic, agricultural and technological — that attest to rurality’s potential resistance.
#8 “Rural Futurism” is a critical perspective, in which multiple points of view (and listening) converge: art, and techno-culture(s) more specifically, provide new and striking ways to rethink what “rurality” is (and could be). In this way, rural areas become places of experimentation, performativity, critical investigation and change. It is possible to create future scenarios, starting from the assemblage of the seen and the unseen, of human and non-human elements. These objects, materials, speech, relational infrastructures and technologies give form to (and are formed as) specific modes of governance.
#9 Through the practice of listening it is possible to get a sense of the complexity and dynamics from which the territory reveals itself in unexpected ways and different perspectives. This emphasizes the value and the values of “deep listening” to experience the different topologies of a rural territory. Tones, harmonies and dissonances vibrate while these processes take place, and that can be registered through an “acoustemological” approach.
#10 In its materiality, sound invites us to experience rural locations and abandoned places as spaces in which to question our approach to history and landscape, our sense of living in a specific place and the relationship that we have with it. The sound of environments, spaces and landscapes reveal the challenges and territorial transformations that inform the ideological, infrastructural and biological ecosystems to which we form a part. In this sense, listening practices are deployed as a way to critically traverse the “border territories” of rural territories, challenging persisting notions about “inescapable marginality”, “residuality” and “peripherality”.
ARTIST – “TITLE” (ALBUM, LABEL, YEAR)
FIELD-RECORDING – “La Campagna” (Liminaria, Fortore, June 2017)
Philip Samartzis & Daniela d’Arielli – “Mill” (A Futurist’s Cookbook, Galaverna, 2018)
SP Intro (the new objective – “vita activa”  plus film samples)
Alejandro Cornejo Montibeller – “molino intervenido” (Conexión Rural: Fortore – Maras – La Convención, Galaverna, 2016)
FIELD-RECORDING – “Leandro e l’anziana / Sul Treno” (Liminaria, Fortore, 2017)
Philip Samartzis – “I Deconstructed Windmills” (Mort Aux Vaches, Mort Aux Vaches, 2003)
FIELD-RECORDING – “La Scala” (Liminaria, San Marco dei Cavoti, June 2017)
Alejandro Cornejo Montibeller – “Famiglia, natura, vibrazione” (Liminaria, Baselice, June 2015)
David Vélez – “Fortore” (Fortore, Plus Timbre, 2016)
Fernando Godoy – “Dodici” (Dodici, Galaverna, 2017)
Philip Samartzis & Daniela d’Arielli – “Harvest” (A Futurist’s Cookbook, Galaverna, 2018)
FIELD-RECORDING – “’Tutto Tufo,’ disse il Nano (o quando Leandro Luciana e io ci siamo incontrati il anziano guida turistica di Baselice)” Part I (Baselice, June 2017)
Monologue – “The Ghost (prelude)” (Perfect Imperfection – Small Sonata For Humans And Machines, Laverna, 2013)
Enrico Coniglio – “OlivElegy” (OlivElegy, Impulsive Habitat, 2014)
Marco Messina – . “La rivolta dei 101” (Liminaria, Riccia, June 2018)
France Jobin – “sound diary: day 5 #soundexcerpt” (Liminaria, Fortore,
FIELD-RECORDING – “Caffe Noise” (Liminaria, San Marco dei Cavoti, June 2017)
Miguel Isaza – “Acto de magia” (Māyopama, Farmacia901, 2017)
Luca Garino – “The Woodcarver” (The Woodcarver, Canti Magnetici, 2016)
FIELD-RECORDING – “Dog Barking” (Liminaria, San Marco dei Cavoti, June 2017)
Gunhild Mathea Olaussen and Helene Førde – “Canzone” (Liminaria, Montefalcone di Valfortore, July 2017)
Luca Buoninfante – “A Sonic Journey” (Liminaria, Sapri, August 2018)
Alyssa Moxley – “Ora” (Liminaria, Guardia Sanframondi, July 2018)
FIELD-RECORDING – “’Tutto Tufo” Part II / “Low Church drone” (Liminaria, Baselice, June 2017)
Alejandro Cornejo Montibeller – “establo moderno y pop music” (Conexión Rural: Fortore – Maras – La Convención, Galaverna, 2016)
FIELD-RECORDING – “Le Rovine di San Marco dei Cavoti” (Liminaria, San Marco, June 2017)
Sound Propositions is written, recorded, mixed, and produced by Joseph Sannicandro.