By Alice Pasquini
I would like to thank all the photographers that gave their images for this publication: without them Crossroads would not exist. I want to take this opportunity to also acknowledge Jessica Stewart for her exhaustive work that eased my chaotic life; not just a manager, but a friend.
In 2014, while I was in New York, I received an email from a certain Ylenia that was as weird as much as it was sorrowful. In this email she was asking me if I was interested in painting a semi-abandoned hamlet in Molise, a region of Southern Italy. The proposition was so crazy that I found it interesting. I carried on reading the email, which said that the village has 400 inhabitants lying against the crest of a hill, with a magnificent castle dated from 1300, and was the birthplace of great Renaissance personalities such as Vincenzo Cuoco and Gabriele Pepe… I was not mistaken, we were talking about Civitacampomarano. The village of my grandfather, the origin of my family… But the author of the message was not aware of any of this. It was a coincidence, a sort of splendid and unexpected coincidence that for me was a magical sequence of events. So I launched headfirst into this project, because I had been longing for some time to realise an artistic project that involved a whole town, not just a single piece of work. That this could take place within the birthplace of my family was both absurd and exhilarating.
Once I arrived in Molise, I found out that Ylenia, together with the few other youngsters that survived the depopulation of the area, were courageously trying to keep alive the history and costumes of Civitacampomarano. Together we looked for information, historical photos, and I uncovered history of those places, looking into facts, studying customs and traditions of the local culture and of private lives.
I started painting on old doors, in abandoned streets, amongst magnificent details. I tried to depict all things that remind the viewer of a by-gone life of the village: women coming back from the fields with heavy baskets on their heads, girls gossiping and children playing.
Amongst the abandoned and dilapidated houses, in that empty and deserted village, there was also an echo of my childhood memories: the summers, my grandfather and his marvellous stories, playing in fresh air, the smells, and childhood friends. By now there are very few children left, mostly children of immigrants, and they go to schools nearby, because the classrooms of Civita have long been closed. I wanted the hamlet to become as alive as it had been in the past. It was a necessity more than a wish. In my own way, I managed to attract people’s attention and the opinion of the public.
With “CVTA” – this is the name of my festival – I managed to get coverage on primetime television news, articles in newspapers and magazines, a considerable media success and online presence. Italian and foreign tourists started visiting the area, not only in the summer months but all year round. Ylenia and the girls of the Proloco involved the children in the most diverse projects, they organised trips to the mountains and sketched the elderly that gave us their walls and time to realise something they had not seen before. It is well known that street art can help lift the economy of an area, and most importantly it can give a new perspective to the lives of inhabitants to contrast the depopulation that has plagued this region, like many other, in the last decades.
Art, willpower and ideas can move people and create awareness. The objective is to create a strong connection with the cultural roots of the place using a contemporary approach and look. As well as artistic performances, we realised various workshops with the aim to divulge the artisanal ability of the area, the local culinary specialties and the art of embroidery. Initially it was a challenge without a sponsor. We started with what we had available. Now we are running the 4th edition of the festival and it has grown so much over the years. It is incredible to see how much art can do, even for places like this.
The people of Civita have welcomed Street Art with enthusiasm: from a coincidence was born an art project that has involved the whole village and his given back hope. Numerous international artists have been invited to make interventions with artwork in theme and that works within the context. We are now at the fourth edition and the number of art interventions has also grown, and at the same time so has the certainty that the hamlet will make it and not be forgotten.