Reshaping the landscape

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An artful fairy tale in the Calanca Valley

Reshaping the landscape

Reshaping the landscape

«A vertical valley made by stones joins other horizontal villages made of sand», says Adriana Bertossa Klenk, in art Adria Nabekle, founder of the Calanca Biennale. The previous edition, hosted in Santa Maria in 2019, was amazing. But outdoing that feat is not impossible. Actually, it’s a must. Despite the fact that in between the two editions something unimaginable occurred. That devious virus that forced the organizers to rethink everything. And adapt. So many tears were shed because of the invisible enemy. Real tears, not crocodile tears, which is the symbolic image of the exhibition en plein air and which therefore represents the ongoing climate change. It reminds us that the Earth is burning, with the garden art that is both the new glaciation and a warning call for the survival of the planet. This is the message that spreads from the Calanca valley (where the European and African tectonic strata meet, almost like a tender embrace) to the rest of the world. The symbolic reptile is a sculpture made with 32 blocks of granite extracted from the Alfredo Polti quarry.

Voracious creativity - One of the posters created (in this case by a Canadian student) for the «Calcroc» contest of the Calanca Biennale
Voracious creativity - One of the posters created (in this case by a Canadian student) for the «Calcroc» contest of the Calanca Biennale

The crocodile, 25 meters long and 12 meters wide, was born from the fertile mind of the architect Davide Macullo («father» of the Swiss House, a beautiful dwelling in which he resides), and championed by the children of the valley that with their imagination have embellished the unique work that can be admired in Rossa. In addition to the granite monster, we find nose-high art in the travelling exhibition of 220 posters created by international artists in Rossa and Arvigo. A shortlist had to be drawn up, as 635 posters from 56 countries landed on Adria Nabekle’s desk. This proves that the chosen theme is more appropriate than ever. It is also attracting numerous onlookers to Calanca, providing an income and unexpected visibility, as quality tourism is arriving in the valley. This year, something else will make this wonderful place even more beautiful. There is something being built that goes beyond the transient. Because the world’s navel, if you look hard enough, can be discovered also and above all amidst the mountain ridges. «The idea behind everything is to interact deeply with the region, to make it an essential part of the artwork. In other words, we would like to achieve a cultural outlook for the landscape», points out Adria Nabekle. If you want to know more (and take a look at the colorful posters) just click on www.calancabiennale.com. You’ll be welcomed by the «Calcroc», the Calanca Crocodile. It doesn’t bite, of course. Between its jaws there is only emotion. And the desire for rebirth.

Reshaping the landscape

Art, in all its facets, has been brought to Rossa by its prodigal son Davide Macullo, who hails from a family that includes characters who have made their way in different fields (among which painting, writing, and music). Along with Parisian artist Daniel Buren, he designed the Swiss House, a large two-storey magenta-red and green wooden tower. A «maison-sculpture» that does not leave one unimpressed, placed among the landowners’ homes in the area of the parish church, which was inaugurated on September 29, 2018. A unique property that has given way to other initiatives in the quaint Calanca village of 154 denizens, such as that of the Englishman David Tremlett, who two years ago gave a touch of color to the exteriors of three churches using the technique of «wall drawing». For some time now Macullo has also been saying that the village has the potential to become the new frontier of civilization, just 90 minutes from Zurich. With such an attraction the whole valley stands to gain, naturally, .as well as the local authorities, the Val Calanca Park Association and the RossArte Foundation.

Illustration by Mauro Li-Vign
Illustration by Mauro Li-Vign

The renaissance begins with secondary homes

Rossa has invited the owners of vacation homes and cottages to rent them instead of keeping them closed and empty. «In the village, 70% of secondary residences, around one hundred in total, are rented out, but only half of them are ‘open’ on a regular basis. It’s a shame», says the deputy village councilwoman Cinzia Barzan, promoter of an appeal to reverse the trend. Especially when considering that demand exceeds supply, as shown last summer when, during the pandemic, many rediscovered the pleasure of a zero-mile vacation. With very little you can really become a leader in the local economic revival of the entire Calanca Valley.

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