The support of Dolomiti Contemporanee and of the curator Gianluca D’Inca Levis has been crucial for the development of Prometheus_ since its early steps.
meeting Dolomiti Contemporanee: the mind border.
11th of December (2017). I arrive in Borca in a dark a stormy night. The sirocco rose and the snow turned into heavy rain. On the road, it forms pools and the car starts to lose adherence on the curves. The windscreen wiper can hardly keep the pace with the incessant rain. I arrive in Borca for the first time. I went through the Cadore more than once, riding that long road that winds on the mountainside putting the towns through as on the wire of a necklace. I did never stop though. And I had no clue of what was hiding into the woods. I turn right, preceded only by the weak beam of my lights. For an instant, I have the feeling to be the character of a nineteenth-century novel. My references though are quite confused about it and I jump from Van Helsing to Frankenstein Junior and obviously Shining. I got here too from a big city, from London in this case, in the wake of my research of the remote. My wide definition of remote, the one I provide to myself to give a shape to the object of my study sounds more or less like this:
a place of difficult access, far from the main tourist and economic fluxes. A place that used to be crucial in the past but now suffers abandonment because life is hard, basic services are no longer granted and it offers no attractiveness.
But remote has also another aspect that has become immediately clear in this place when the sunrise and I start understanding the physical and mental extension of the Villaggio Eni. Remote, being remote is a state of mind and it is often closer than we think. This place is a clear, double example. Borca is already subject to this dimension of the remoteness, obscured by the near Cortina and subject to the caprice of holiday fashions. The Villaggio though is even more so, extinguished the brightness of the ambitious project of Enrico Mattei and Edoardo Gellner.
“There is no God in Borca. Just two demigods.”
Gianluca D’Incà Levis tells me. Therefore their reign, already geographically overhead has always been alien in its relationship with the town. Which, moreover, is half the extension of the Villaggio. An actual sodality between the two entities has never been realised and a general distrust is still perceptible in the regards of the site. Perhaps also in those of Mattei and his intentions.
Remote often exists first and foremost in our mindset, in the way we perceive time and space. To change the rhetoric attached to these places is the first step to break apart the unfruitful rigidity of their condition. And eventually of ours. Since the sixteenth century, the European perception of the mountains has been changing throughout the centuries in a drastic way. As for many other places and environments. As for anything we relate yourself with, they are shaped by the cultural dynamics. Through the time we exonerated God from the responsibility of the creation of these repellent landscapes, of unintelligible imperfections on the otherwise perfect sphere of the Creation. Intrigued by the possibility to understand what demon to blame for them, our Western culture has been possessed and disturbed by the mystic fascination for these places. Putting God back into the geological dynamics. The inebriation of the elevation together with the extreme physical and mental tension it involves, elected these places to the role of the communication terminal with God. Forcing out archaic entities hard to be controlled. Romantics and Enlightened later crossed over the picks, more often thinking up at a safe distance, pervaded by their projections. The former going after that tremor of the pudenda they would later call the Sublime. The same their predecessors prudently repressed even if the attributed it to God. The latter to demonstrate that neither god nor limits exist for mankind in this world. Kicked God off the mountains the push was already unstoppable and they went to dethrone other gods. Other’s gods in other’s worlds. Once emptied the mountains from their ancient mysticism all over the globe, aware or not we replaced it with a more modern one of men made immortals by the ice and values of presumed universality. Dogma according to which the mountain shapes better men, the respect for the others and a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Yet I met people going up jerks and jerks coming down, but strengthen in their self-legitimacy to be jerks by the fact they went up and down. Religious wars burst between the devotees of gods Money and Progress contrasted by those upstarts of a middle-class animism whose pantheon spirits of the world and supposed laic ideas wrangle. The idealisation of the mountain then is the result of an absolutely contingent cultural process which guarantees to both the groups a productive business opportunity. In the meanwhile in the shadow of this new ideal Olympus, everything is crystallised, unable to reproduce and evolve. People and cultures petrify. They become a functional stereotype in either one faction or the other, together with the mountains they have been grabbing on for centuries. Other instead leave, heading down to crowd other lands in an eternal dance of contraction and expansion. They bring nothing with them, they left places remote to the mind behind. In this flux of cultures the role mountaineers, hikers of the mindsets is perhaps once again to be first of all iconoclasts.
Sguardo on Borca by Lorenzo Barbasetti di Prun.