Did you know that Italy is one of the world’s leading producers of paper? This is especially true in the area of Tuscany surrounding Lucca. Paper mills have existed in this region since the 16th century, thriving because of the abundance of water and raw material needed for paper production. Today the vast majority of tissue paper for Italy is produced just outside of Lucca. This history makes Lucca the perfect setting for a biennial international exhibition of paper art and design.
The festival began in 2004 as Cartasia, with the goal of promoting the tradition of papermaking using artistic creations related to an annual theme.
The event has grown, and this year the name was changed to Lucca Biennale Paper, Art, Design.
Also for the first time this year a guest country was featured in the exhibit; this year China was chosen and collaborated with the local committee on the exhibits. The Chinese influence can be seen in many of the art works displayed.
Prior to each festival, there is a competition to select the pieces to be displayed. Artists from around the world submit art (sculptures, paintings, installations, videos, architecture) based around a chosen theme. This year the theme was Chaos and Silence, described in the exhibit materials as the “search for silence, clarity, peace among chaos.” Each selected piece relates to this theme, as interpreted by the individual artist. The chosen pieces, representing Italy, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Korea, Venezuela, the United States, and China, were displayed throughout Lucca throughout August and September. Pictured in this post are just a sampling of the displayed pieces, my favorites.
Many of the larger sculptures were displayed outdoors in public places - making the art easily accessible to everyone. The pieces themselves were fantastic, and watching as people walked by and discovered them was part of the fun.
Other pieces were displayed indoors in the Palazzo Ducale and the Mercato del Carmine (the admission fee to the indoor exhibit included a color brochure describing each piece). These included more delicate sculptural pieces, framed art, diverse art installations). The architecture of the historic buildings added to the drama of the art.
In past years, once the exhibit ended, the larger sculptures were move to protected areas in the passageways underneath the walls surrounding the city, where they remained for the two years between festivals. I’m hoping that will also be the case this year, as the festival included some exceptional pieces. If you are coming to Lucca, you’ll want to look for these. -post by JMB