Cartasia: biennial show of contemporary art

In the Italian region of Tuscany, and principally in the province of Lucca, paper production is closely connected to the territory itself, and this has always had a great economic, environmental, social and cultural impact on the entire area.

The actors of this system (producers and agencies) have shown great sensitivity for environmental themes, in their focused resource and waste management, pursuing increasingly sustainable production models and attaining important results from an environmental point of view. The know-how developed in eight centuries of acquired experience has allowed paper production in the area of Lucca to attain the status of tradition.


Emiliano Galigani (Metropolis)

For the city of Lucca, the month of September is a period of great cultural ferment. Because it is during this month that life in the city and its surroundings fills with initiatives, so that its citizens and tourists, who are present en masse especially during the early fall season, have a wide range of events from which to choose. Among the many choices, a biennial exhibition of contemporary art stands out: Cartasia.

The Cartasia International Paper Festival, the biennial show of contemporary art, brings the economic world of the territory – led by the paper field – together through the creative impulse of artists coming from the entire world. In a contest, the artists are invited to design large-size works made exclusively of paper, cardboard and its derivatives. The works will then be set up in the major piazzas of the Paper District (an area that includes not only Lucca but also neighboring towns). Of all the projects participating (in 2007 they were over 200) only eight of them, selected by a jury, will see the possibility of being built. The eight winning artists are then invited to Tuscany so that they can construct their works in collaboration with paper producing companies. Basically, the entrepreneurial world of paper offers its collaboration in the production of these great oeuvres, built and placed on show in the different piazzas for the whole month of September.

It is important to underscore that placing these works within one of the most suggestive scenic landscapes in the world also has an environmental objective. Paper recycling produces art: this is the desired message to be transmitted. But it is also important to note that the paper festival is naturally set in the main area in Europe for paper production, and the actors in this scenario (agencies and entrepreneurs) do their part within the show, bringing together the world of entrepreneurs and the world of art. Both on a production level and an artistic one, the capital of paper is here.


BUT CARTASIA IS NOT ONLY THIS: The festival is enriched with other cultural initiatives, moving along parallel channels. Paper has been made in these areas for over eight centuries. Visiting the surroundings of Lucca (Capannori, Pescia, Porcari, Villa Basilica, etc.), we can easily understand how these centuries of history in paper have produced many structural modifications in people’s lifestyles, but also in the architecture of the area and in the landscape itself. Industrial archeology in the realm of paper is one of the examples of this modification that has take place in the course of time and which is slowly disappearing. We firmly believe that a society that loses contact with its roots is destined to disappear, that safeguarding history and memory is a debt we have towards the generations that have come before us and a resource for those that will come afterwards. For this reason, through photographic exhibitions, Cartasia promotes meetings, debates… a recovery of the historical memory of “making paper.”

Furthermore, the range of initiatives promoted within the Biennial Show of Contemporary Art is completed by organized events: shows, music, ballet and theatre, held in the towns where the works are exhibited. This constitutes a further cultural attraction so that visitors can enjoy the vision and the experience that the works offer. With this in mind, since 2003, the Metropolis association produces the Biennial Show of Contemporary Art with the conviction that contemporary art is a synonym of development and promotion of the territory. And this initial and, in many ways, obvious assumption goes hand in hand with considering contemporary culture as a harbinger of social, ethical, economic and aesthetic development of the entire community. •


Cartasia – Biennial Show of Contemporary Art (www.cartasia.it) is promoted by the Metropolis association, the Fondazione Arkad, Prismanet Snc, in collaboration with the Municipality and Province of Lucca, the Paper District of Capannori and municipalities adherent to it, Comieco, the Fondazione Lazzareschi, the Fondazione della Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca, the Fondazione della Banca del Monte di Lucca with the sponsorship of the Ministry of the Environment and Protection of the Territory, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the TRAART project of the Region of Tuscany. Also participating in the project are numerous paper mills, among which SCA, Kappa, Sofidel, Industria Cartaria Pieretti, Tubettificio Pasquetti, etc.




Metropolis is a cultural association that proposes and promotes artistic initiatives connected to music, entertainment and culture in general. Born in 2001 from the union of a team of musicians, writers, directors and actors through collaboration with local agencies, in the summer of that same year the association staged its first production (Musical Welcome to the machine). More followed, both in prose (“The King Dies”, by Eugène Ionesco 2002, “Lo Strano Caso D”, text and direction by Emiliano Galigani, 2006), music (Circo Faber 2003), videos (documentary “storie di carta” 2004) and films (Zones 2005). On a formative level, Metropolis organizes “Skenè” (2002 - 2007), a school that for the first time tackles the theatrical field under every aspect. Together with the traditional courses in acting, the school also organizes courses in direction, set designing and lighting techniques. Since 2005 Metropolis carries out theatrical laboratory activities in public schools. Particular attention is also placed in supporting and valorizing the different artistic situations of the territory. Since 2003, Metropolis also promotes and organizes “Cartasia, Biennial Show of Contemporary Art “.

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