Coalition of the Care-Full

Lecture and Publication Launch

Unexpected Landscapes in Pandemic Times 

As Part of State of Concept’s enquiry Coalition of the Care-Full Leone Contini presents a publication launch and lecture at the European Pavilion 17-19 November 2-22

The area between Florence and Prato is a continuum of industrial buildings, interspersed by residual rural areas. Since the early 1990s the area had evolved into one of Europe’s highest areas of Chinese population density, becoming interwoven with the onset of global mobility. 

Leone’s research-based practice aims to tackle the intersection between global mobility and the rural space, often interstitial to the industrial one.

Food growing landscape of Leone’s neighbour Yufen
After the farm has been confiscated by the government
Yufen’s farm is over grown

In the early 2000s, this liminal space became in fact the playground (and battleground) for inter-continental agricultural experiments: the first family cultivated gardens of Chinese vegetables, created in the factory courtyards, soon developed into farms, able to fulfil the needs of the local Chinese community. However, since 2009, virulent media campaigns have been unleashed against this rural entrepreneurship, often resulting in the confiscation of the farms themselves.At the core of the xenophobic narratives concerning the Chinese farmers is perhaps the fear that a foreign, invasive seed, sprouting on Tuscan soil (to become food), might somehow threaten the community (metaphorically and not). The aim of my practice is to question the ideological crossroads of soil, food and the global mobility of humans and plants, where a foreign seed could generate unexpected landscapes, triggering a shift in the ostensibly solid ground of the countryside, which sustains the collective body: the physical one to be nourished, and the ethical one to be imagined. 

How are specific segments of the existent recast, or not, into the landscape? What if such elements are re-assembled as an anti-landscape, a visual representation of what doesn’t belong? On the other hand, could an emerging landscape defuse a dominant iconography, by re-activating the intrinsic dynamism of a rural territory? Could a Chinese gourd become part of an imagined, new landscape, together with vineyards, olive trees and cypresses, to mirror an inclusive, sustainable community? 

If the landscape, defined as an entanglement of anthropology, history and geography, is an occasion to investigate ideological patterns, then, other heavily charged Italian landscapes could be relevant: such as the Agro Pontino, between Lazio and Campania, known for its land reclamation and “colonization” during the fascist time. Here, between the still operating remediation channels created by the regime, buffalo livestock and monocultures, the sudden appearance of Bengalese family-farms is a glimmer toward the future.

About the artist:

Leone Contini (b. 1976) studied Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Siena. 

His research unrolls at the intersection of anthropology, aesthetics and politics and his mediums include lecture-performances, collective interventions in public spaces, textual and visual narratives, drawings. He has held exhibitions and displayed works at: Madre, Naples; Pearl Art Museum, Shanghai; SAVVY, Berlin; HKW, Berlin; IAC, Lyon; Manifesta 12, Palermo; Fondazione Sandretto, Turin; Pistioletto Foundation, Biella; Delfina Foundation, London; Kunstraum, Munich; Khoj, New Delhi; Kunstverein Amsterdam; Villa Romana, Florence. 

In 2018-2019 he was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. In 2017 he won the second edition of the Italian Council award. In 2017 he collaborated with “TRACES – Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts”.