Embedded Arts Practice and the Future of Biella

Bianca Elzenbaumer, Chiara Mura, Carlo Bettinelli / Comunità Frizzante
Visiting artists: Camila Aguais, Chiara De Maria, Chiara Sgaramella, Francesco Pavignano, Stefano Volpato
06 Dec / 11 Dec, 2021
Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto


UNIDEE Residency 2021
Module in partnership with Fondazione Zegna

The residency is an opportunity for a week-long conversation for residents to learn about hopes and futures for Young People in Biella - what’s good? What change would you like to see? In your most hopeful moments, what life do you imagine in 40 years-time? What resources do we have or can draw on? How could you make it happen (through and in connection with embedded arts practice)?

A group of young people from Biella will learn from the guest curators and the resident artists about socially engaged/embedded practice - what it means to be an artist/curator working in the social field, potential career opportunities, interdisciplinary and collective approaches­­ etc.

Residents will have an opportunity to learn about Biella, engage with young people, and share their practice with peers.
Together we will co-create an outcome (a publication/an exhibition/ a recording) that marks the learning – a container for proposals for future projects focused on new ways for improving and activating the territory. .


Themes and Methods

“What is hospitality? It means receiving people with a smile, sharing what you love, with the idea of a hospitable and sustainable territory, for those who live there and those who visit, where nature and human live in harmony in full mutual respect. It is not necessary to repeat pre-established patterns, but to create new models.”
Interview with Anna Zegna

What Biella would we like to see for ourselves and future generations? What steps can we take to get there? What exists and can be developed? What do we need to invent or create?

Posing as a tourist board of the future we will collectively re-imagine the territory through the lens of hospitality and propose new models for engaging with the territories of Biella. There will be a focus on why people visit Biella in the Future. How will we welcome them? What will they do? How will they get around? What will they learn? What will they eat and drink? Who will come? What will it be like for older people and how will it be accessible? How will they capture and communicate this place and their experiences when they return home? What will the future postcards of Biella look like? .


Tools and resources to draw on

1. Presentation / seminar on how artists have used ideas about world-building and speculative futures in socially engaged projects, also drawing on curators' own projects in collaboration with a social worker and agro-ecologist.

2. Materials and research from Biella as Arcipelago mapping project presented as part of ‘Arte al Centro’ exhibition (October 2021).

3. Field trips / site visits to (work)places around Biella to understand history and present of the district and have conversations with people/residents about how these could/might change in the future. Drawing upon existing organisations and initiatives in the Valdilana area including Oasi Zegna, Mosso Middle School, Passi D’Asino, as well as restaurants/producers interested in hospitality and sustainable approaches to tourism.

4. Group critique / sharing sessions where residents and young people share something related to theme (could be own practice, could be something you are interested in)

5. Facilitated Group Discussion / Brainstorming sessions - using different methods.

6. A co-production ‘lab/workshop' where individuals and groups can create a container for their ideas and learning from the week. Perhaps as an alternative tourist guide or map / series of postcards / video trailer / radio show. Resident artists can propose own ideas and help illustrate/mentor ideas of the young people.



Monday 6th Dec / Day 1
Morning: visit to Cittadellarte
Lunch at Cittadellarte
Afternoon: introduction to the project by the curatorial team and Cittadellarte, group discussion activities, comparison of materials and research of Mapping Biella City Arcipelago, with a focus on the realities in Valdilana.
Presentation by Bianca Elzenbaumer and Comunità Frizzante.

Tuesday 7th Dec / Day 2
Morning: focus on the theme of hospitality in the artistic and cultural context and focus on the environment. Visit to Casa Zegna by Cristina Grosso, introduction to the experience of hospitality in Oasi Zegna by Raffaella Pivani and meeting with Giuseppe Paschetto / Scuola Media di Mosso.
Packed lunch at Casa Zegna
Afternoon: visit to Oasi Zegna and walk with Over Alp.

Wednesday 8th Dec / Day 3
Morning: first sharing session
Lunch at Cittadellarte
Afternoon: second sharing session

Thursday 9th Dec / Day 4
Morning: focus on hospitality and tourism in Valdilana. Meeting with Paolo Vergnaghi of the Passi d'asino association, visit to the Beer In brewery, lunch and visit to the Oro di Berta farmhouse.
Afternoon: third sharing session

Friday 10th Dec / Day 5
Morning: group discussion activities
Lunch at Cittadellarte
Afternoon: creation of publication/output

Saturday 11th Dec / Day 6
Morning: creation of publication/output
Lunch at Cittadellarte
Afternoon: sharing of the outcome with the public (aperitivo).



On Saturday 11 December 2021 we presented to the public the result of the residency week, consisting in a temporary exhibition hosted in the spaces of Biella Città Arcipelago of Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto.
The participants made a self-produced magazine collecting the material of reflection and activities of the residency, showed some videos and audios presenting the characters of the Tourism Board of the future. Visitors were invited to immerse themselves in this journey accompanied by the taste of a drink specifically created and produced by Comunità Frizzante for this occasion.


#biellesevero 2060 fanzine

“What kind of Biella and its surroundings would we like to see for ourselves and for future generations? What steps can we take to get there? What already exists and what do we need to invent or create? Acting as a tourist board of 2060, for a week in December 2021 we collectively imagined the future of the area through the lens of hospitality. In our explorations and conversations, we condensed the following concepts for a desirable: connection, empathy, care, relationship, ties, sharing, community, ...

In this publication, we report on two aspects that we believe can guide the future of the area. The first is a transformation of language: in the future, tourists will be welcomed as co-inhabitants and as such will immerse themselves in processes of co-research and care. The second is the opening up to non-human points of view: we imagine that in the future, decisions about the territory will be taken including the needs and wishes of a variety of protagonists who currently remain in the background, such as animals, plants, natural elements like water and air. In fact, we imagined that as the "tourist board" of 2060, our name and composition would also be changed. We could call ourselves the Circle of Interdependence: in addition to the local inhabitants, a whole range of actors whose voices are less present at the moment will also be part of it.”



Bianca Elzenbaumer, Chiara Mura, Carlo Bettinelli / Comunità Frizzante

Bianca Elzenbaumer is a design researcher based in the Italian Alps. She is a founding member of the design practice Brave New Alps and is co-president of CIPRA International, an environmental NGO spanning the alpine arc. Her 40-year research plan focuses on supporting and creating community economies and commons starting from the places she lives in. She is a co-founder of Comunità Frizzante – making drinks to make community.

Carlo Bettinelli (agro-ecologist) and Chiara Mura (social workers) are co-leading the project Comunità Frizzante (Sparking Community). They mobilise participatory methods to produce fizzy drinks with thought-provoking flavours as a means to question and practically reinvent relations amongst humans as well as between humans and nature. In 2021 they are shortlised for the Lush Spring Prize.


Young People

It’s a group of young people from Biella aged between 16 and 24, thanks to the collaboration of local schools and associations (Better Places, Filo da Tessere, Liceo Artistico “G. e Q. Sella”, and Istituto Tecnico Commerciale Statale “Eugenio Bona”): Anna Robino, Rebecca Chigioni, Arianna Coppa, Matteo Boretto, Valentina Paolini, Chiara Negro, Younis Benmimoune, Ofelia Genipro, Samira Kouhail.

Visiting artists 

Selected artists, invited from our pool of previous residents based on their suitability in terms of interests, practice and co-production/collaborative methods:

Camila Aguais

Camila Aguais is an artist, educator and curator based in Surrey, England. With a background in Fine Art and Art History, her studio practice includes drawing, painting, printmaking and mixed media exploring materiality, seriality, colour and form. She currently an art teacher and gallery director at TASIS the American School in England. Camila has teaching experience in a variety of contexts with young people aged 11-18 as well as adults. As gallery director, she collaborates with visiting artists towards designing exhibitions and workshops to complement student learning and celebrate student artwork.

Chiara De Maria

Chiara De Maria currently works as a freelance photographer and videomaker. In 2016 she graduated at the Neue Schule fuer Fotografie in Berlin. Her research focuses on the body with a particular attention to rituality and gestures. Specialized in analogue techniques, in the last years she integrates to her mixed media creative practice also video and collage. In 2018 she studies at the Master of High Education on the Contemporary Image of Fondazione Fotografia Modena. From 2018 to 2021 she works at the educational department of the Modena Visual Arts Foundation. Since 2019 Chiara is co-founder of the association Tuscan House of Photography and curator of the annual program of artist residencies and cultural events. In 2020 she is Professor of video at the Master on Contemporary Images in Modena (FMAV). In recent years her artistic practice is intertwined with the vocation for education approaching and curating participatory art projects.

Chiara Sgaramella

Chiara Sgaramella is an artist and researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). Her work explores the intersections between collaborative practices and ecology-related art. She has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Creative Ecologies at the University of California Santa Cruz (USA, 2018) and has edited different publications examining recent artistic production focusing on eco-social issues. Parallel to the academic work, she develops artistic, pedagogical and cultural projects proposing a critical reflection on issues related to agriculture, food sovereignty and land use. She participated in art residencies such as Atlante Energetico (Spinola Banna Foundation, 2016-17), New Curriculum (Inland, 2018), Resistències Artístiques (Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, 2019-2021), L'Extraordinari! (IVAM, 2021) and Groundwork for Embedded Arts Practice (UNIDEE, 2021).

Francesco Pavignano

Francesco Pavignano icomes from Occhieppo Inferiore (a small town next to Biella) and is currently based in Turin. He is working as an illustrator for both the communication and publishing industries. Alongside Carlotta Sofia Grassi and Tommaso Valli, he is co-founder of ventunesimo collective. Together, they manage the art direction of a three weeks artist residency that takes place in Occhieppo Inferiore and it is organised by the local association Associazione Turistica Pro Loco di Occhieppo Inferiore. In 2020, the collective opened a studio and cultural space in Barriera di Milano (Turin), where they began to collaborate with emerging artists and local realities, with a view to creating a shared design network.

Stefano Volpato

Stefano Volpato iworks as an independent curator and is co-founder of CampoBase. Graduated in MA Visual Arts at the University of Bologna, in 2018-2019 he attended CAMPO, a curatorial program led by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin. He has collaborated in curating exhibitions, residencies and public programs with several cultural institutions, including Artissima and Barriera in Turin, VAC Foundation in Venice, Fondazione Elpis in Milan, DBC University of Padua, TRA Treviso Ricerca Arte / Casa Robegan and Piattaforma Lago in Treviso. He has contributed to catalogs and magazines with critical texts and other writings. As a member of the curatorial collective CampoBase he co-curated various artistic events and projects, among which the festival House of Displacement in Turin (2019) and at Hangar in Barcelona (2020), and the project What Do You Sea? at Piscina Cozzi in Milan (2021).