The history of a country told through street art. This is what happened in Civitella, where the municipal administration decided to give new life to four disused information boards. Matteo Bidini, cultural producer, event organizer and independent curator oversaw the implementation of Exit Enter interventions which painted four episodes related to the history of Badia al Pino, Pieve al Toppo, Tegoleto and Civitella.
The Giostre del Toppo, Gnicche, the massacre. Street art tells the story of Civitella
Matteo Bidini’s project
“There was a pond near the house where I grew up. Big fish lived there, many frogs, many insects and hundreds of tadpoles on the banks. It was big, but not too much. I remember it enormously because I was the small one. If I had to describe it I would say which was of the exact size for the stone thrown from the hand of a 10-year-old to upset him.
I arrived sneaking, in the quiet of a summer afternoon, bringing with me the biggest stone I could lift. The fish swam and the frogs sang when suddenly “Splash!”, A stone broke into the scene, disturbing the pre-established balance.
I have brought this memory back from my memory, because this is the exact image I think of every time I take part in the realization of a public art intervention in a small village.
I think of a small community as an ecosystem gathered in a country pond, with its habits and fragile balances, and I imagine a street art intervention like a stone that sinks into it, inevitably destined to modify and
upsetting the landscape as it reaches the bottom.
With this I do not mean that street art interventions should not be made in small businesses, but that one must have extra delicacy and foresight. You have to tiptoe, study the landscapes, history and listen to the natives because the artist, once the work is completed, will return to his home, but people will experience that mural in their daily lives. Accompanying their children to school, running to work, walking with the dog, they will find themselves looking at an image that, if it does not want to be perceived as having fallen from above, will have to talk to them and them.
Civitella Val di Chiana is a town of 9000 people divided into thirteen hamlets. Exit Enter’s interventions are positioned on four disused bulletin boards in the villages of Tegoleto, Badia al Pino, Pieve al Toppo and Civitella and each illustrates a characteristic feature typical of the village that hosts it, against the background of a different moment of the day “.
Here are the texts by Matteo Bidini for each work depicted.
Badia al Pino
“A father plays in the shade of a centuries-old pine tree with his son, in the quiet of a beautiful sunny day in Badia al Pino. In the distance you can recognize the houses of the village and the Badia. The intervention is located at the entrance of the school medium and, right in front, yes
he finds a conglomerate of houses with a courtyard, where we saw children play. Growing up and playing in front of that blue sky, we asked ourselves several times how those children would be inspired by it. How have we changed their perception of the street in front of the house? Will they ever produce ideas even remotely inspired by those colors? Will they tell their children about the sky they played before? “.
Pieve al Toppo
“Two knights face each other in the sunset light, at the end of a day. Among the many details of the background, you can see the Sienese Guelphs running away in the plain chased by the Ghibellines of Arezzo. The illustrated event is Le giostre del toppo, an This happened in the summer of 1288 when, after several days of siege in Arezzo, the Sienese and Florentine Guelphs decided to go home, dividing the army on separate roads. The Arezzo pursued the Sienese and surrounded them in the place called “Mugliano” near Pieve al Toppo: “… of which defeat the Sienese had a great lowering … and the Aretines mounted with great pride” from
“La cronica” by G.Villani book VII chap. CXX. The event is also mentioned by Dante in the 13th canto of hell when he challenges Lano da Siena, a wealth sink who ended up being the captain of fortune of the Sienese army, who died while hiding in the bushes of the Toppo. It was fun to find out, while we were doing the work, that the colors of the country team are yellow and red, like the sunset sky. A gentleman who passed by while we were working began to tell us various anecdotes and war stories, complaining that the corpses of the fallen were not present in the painting. We justified the choice by saying that
we were representing the moment immediately before the outbreak of the clash, exactly as sunset is the moment immediately before the end of a day and the beginning of the night and then many children would have seen it too.
they played in the nearby square. His response was as simple as it was effective: “Yes, but war is ugly and kills, otherwise what war is it?”.
“The bandit Gnicche sings drunk to the moon in a night sky, from the top of the tower where he was arrested on the night of March 14, 1871. Three carabinieri, suspicious of an unusual smell of livers, a dish too delicious for a peasant family, entered a house farmhouse of Tegoleto and they discovered the famous bandit from Arezzo in the company of his accomplices. The country brigand fought ferociously even managing to escape the capture, biting off two fingers to a carabiniere, but a slip was fatal. He was reached in the back by a bullet and exclaimed to the guard who had managed to catch him: “Bravo! You pulled well …!” And he died. Why did a bandit become so famous, to the point of being legend? It is that irreverent and disobedient side that seduces us, for this reason Exit Enter wanted to associate the story of Gnicche with a dark but at the same time fascinating night, because the night brings advice, but also brings out the darker sides, crazy en abscasts of people. In the panel next to the intervention we transcribed the first verses of a popular song, handed down for over 150 years, which tells the story of Federigo Bobini called Gnicche: “Federigo Bobin, as a little boy – as soon as he started walking – he became a citizen of the country – and the father inside Arezzo went to stay – This boy does like the thorn – who is born sharp because he wants to puncture – he carries a knife in his pocket – by nickname he was called Gnicche … “.
“That of Civitella was the most difficult intervention from a symbolic point of view. We studied and read books in the weeks before arriving and initially we wanted to talk about the massacre of Civitella, which took place on June 29, 1944 by the Hermann Goering division, during which 244 people were killed, including 177 in Civitella alone. Visiting the town, the feeling was that he had never fully recovered from the incident and that he still carried deep divisive wounds behind him. 76 years later Civitella it is almost uninhabited, has just 90 inhabitants, many of whom are elderly. There are not many activities and people gather around the club or in the square. We met Martina, the only twenty year old who lives in the village and exchanged words with some elderly people who are come to visit us during the work. By deepening the knowledge of the place and grasping the nuances of the life that flowed in Civitella, we chose not to realize a memorial, but to shift the attention of the painting to a positive message, which placed at the center of everything an idea of rebirth, transmission of memory and hope for a new life. A grandfather carries his grandson in his arms, tends him towards a tree with branches full of spring buds. Dawn is the backdrop to the scene, greeting the birth of a new day and wishing Civitella to be able to return to the liveliness and vitality that was abruptly taken away from him in that June ’44 “.
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