A project by Brave New Alps in collaboration with the Municipality of Franzensfeste-Fortezza for Manifesta 7 , the European biennial of contemporary art, which took place in Trentino-Südtirol from the 19th July to the 2nd November 2008.
The commune of Franzensfeste-Fortezza is experiencing a moment of change: the activities upon which the village’s economy and life were based – railway, customs duty, cardboard factory – ceased to exist or continue to exist only in a very reduced form; many of the buildings which up to the ’90s were full of life, now stand empty. The missing of workplaces and the presence of functionless houses and office buildings let the inhabitants look at the future with little optimism.
In South Tyrol Franzensfeste-Fortezza is a role model in regard of the integration between the German and Italian language groups. The inhabitants are aware of this uniqueness and live this integration with a lot of self-confidence.
In the last years the percentage of non-Italian citizens living in the village has notably risen. This fact is partly looked upon with distrust and the integration seems to work without friction just among the children and the teenagers.
The opening of the fortress, which until 2005 was under the control of the Italian military, lets (some of) the inhabitants hope for a new revival of the village, but still a huge part of the village sees the fortress as external to their own identity as it is situated a couple of kilometers outside of it.
Image: Paolo Mazzi
The biennial is the first major event to take place in the fortress since its opening to the public. In order to make this important cultural event leave some permanent traces in the village, Brave New Alps is aimed at bridging the gap between Manifesta 7, which takes place inside the fortress, and the inhabitants of Franzensfeste-Fortezza.
Throughout the project we did a series of interventions in Franzensfeste-Fortezza, focusing on how the people perceive their village and their community.
In the period between the 6th June and the 10th August, we lived in Franzensfeste-Fortezza and worked inside the “Tennis Bar” of the village, which had been unused for the last 10 years. The scope of the inhabitation was to develop a sensitivity for the village and to build up contacts with the inhabitants. At our studio we held a barbecue and a bowling competition, inviting all the people in the village to join us.
Interviews and cinema evening
From June to July we collected stories about the past, the present and the future of the village in the form of video interviews.
Together, these fragments are a socio-geographic mapping of Franzensfeste-Fortezza, which was screened during a cinema evening at the end of July in one of the dismissed railway buildings, namely the one used to check the transported animals.
> download the full video (mpeg4, 640*480, 576MB)
The venue where we organised the cinema evening when it was still used to examine the livestock that was imported to Italy over the Brenner Pass. Courtesy: Moratelli family
The videos shown on the evening
The village swallowed by the water reservoir during the fascist era
The economic future of the village
Customs duty at the train station
The paper factory
The railway workers
The digital archive of the project FORTEZZA OPEN ARCHIVE FRANZENSFESTE was filled with images and stories by the inhabitants during the period of Manifesta 7. The archive laboratory, in which this part of the project took place, was situated inside the fortress.
Scenarios for the future
Through a workshop of one and a half days in the fortress, on the 9th and 10th August, we gave the inhabitants of Franzensfeste-Fortezza the possibility to work out scenarios for the future of their village. Here everyone had the possibility to work out more or less complex scenarios. Unfortunately less people than we hoped, joined the workshop. Nevertheless, at the end of it all the participants and the Municipality were handed out an “instant book” holding all the interesting results of the event.
We would like to thank our friend Katherina Erlacher of the Alexander Langer Foundation for her support with the workshop.