Expanded Body. An immersive exploration of the Oasi Zegna

andrea caretto | raffaella spagna
Ernst Z├╝rcher
26 Jun / 03 Jul, 2017
Cittadellarte, Biella | Oasi Zegna, Trivero
TOPICS/TAGS: Radical ecology, experience, perception, aesthetic experimentation, mediation, non-hierarchical ontology, living and non-living, cohabitation, force field, other-than-self.

The module offers an immersing experience across the territory of the Oasi Zegna, a mountain protected area extending for about 100 sq km in Piedmont, in the Biellese Alps, between Trivero and the Cervo Valley. The participants will be involved in the aesthetic experimentation of a radically ecological way of thinking, based on a non-hierarchical ontology in which all the subjects (living and non-living, plants, animals, rocks, artefacts, etc.) existing in that place are put on the same level.

How do we perceive the environment we are part of? What does a plant perceive in that same environment? How do we relate with the other living species and the non-living? What are the possible forms of cohabitation? How can we, as artists, operate in a specific context and in what role?

The first part of the module is going to be characterized by a few walking excursions on the territory, as a way to get in touch with the force field permeating the landscape of the Oasi, identifying the main lines of its flux on a grand scale.
The mentors will involve the participants in a few collective actions, shared experiences potentially able to activate benumbed sensory faculties, start data collections and stimulate reflections, followed by an invitation for the group to devise new ways of relating to the other-than-self, to eventually get to the creation of a collection of “exercises of perception”.

Later on, the participants will be invited to individually interact with a specific item or element – a subject identified on a smaller scale of the same landscape – to connect with it, “listening”, this way defining an individual project, an expression of interaction between the two subjects, which will then become part of a collective final work.


June 26th

Guided tour to Cittadellarte (Curated by Elena Rosina), including the Pistoletto, Arte Povera collections and temporary exhibitions.
Introduction to the Theorem of Trinamics, the symbol of the Third Paradise and the concept of Demopraxy.
Distribution of a Notebook produced by the mentors to each participant, which will be used as a working tool during the workshop.
Participants’ presentation: motivations and expectations. Participants and mentors will present themselves through a short story of their experience (education, interests, attitudes).
lunch at Cittadellarte
Presentation of the module’s programme and introduction of the main themes: The Perception of Environment / The concept of “Umwelt” / The Dwelling Perspective, World Without Objects (T. Ingold).
Presentation and discussion of the works of Caretto | Spagna.

June 27th
Lecture of prof. Ernst Zürcher, "The Trees and the Invisible - towards a synthesis between modern science and traditional knowledge" (Dr. sc. nat., Forestry engineer ETHZ, Professor em. for Wood Science Bachelor & Master Wood).
packed lunch
Trip to Valsessera with prof. Ernst Zürcher (from Bocchetto Sessera: path 15 and 15b).
Return trip to Cittadellarte in the late afternoon.
Presentation and discussion about the participants’ works.

June 28th
Trip to Trivero. Visit to Casa Zegna and Oasi Zegna, overview through Panoramica.
packed lunch
Trip to Valsessera (from Bocchetto Sessera: path 15 and 15b): woods and mineral sites, geology of the area, Linea Insubrica, Supervulcano of Valsesia. Observation and field trial.
Overnight stay in tents in Alpe Moncerchio area.

June 29th
Hike in the woods (from the camping area).
packed lunch
Field work: exercises of perception.
Transfer to the Alpe Moncerchio hut in the late afternoon. 

June 30th
Session of individual work: selection of the place for each action and element to interact with.
packed lunch
Session of individual work and discussion with mentors.
Return trip to Cittadellarte in the late afternoon.

July 1st
Session of individual work.
Discussion with the mentors.

July 2nd
Session of individual work and discussion with mentors.
Collective discussion about the participants’ projects.

July 3rd
Finalisation of the participants’ projects and set-up.
Public presentation of the projects and discussion about the workshop outcome.



The mentors will prepare a reader for participants with key texts, some of which will be discussed during the week.

• Daniel Chamovitz, What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.

• Tim Ingold, The Perception of Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, Routledge, 2000.

• Tim Ingold, Being Alive. Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description, Routledge, 2011.

• Tim Ingold, The Eye of the Storm: Visual Perception and the Weather, in “Visual Studies”, 20(2):97-104, October 2005.

• Stefano Mancuso, Alessandra Viola, Verde Brillante. Sensibilità e intelligenza del mondo vegetale, Giunti Editore, 2013.

• Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence, Columbia University Press, 2016. 

• Ernst Zürcher, Les Arbres,entre visible et invisible, Actes Sud, 2016.



Andrea Caretto (Turin, Italy, 1970) and Raffaella Spagna (Rivoli, Italy, 1967) explore the profound relationships linking human beings to the environment. They conceive art as inquiry, a tool to investigate the multiple dimensions of reality: formal, qualitative and physical quantitative aspects of matter but also philosophical and social ones. In keeping with their educational backgrounds – Landscape Architecture for Spagna, Natural Sciences and Scientific Museology for Caretto – their projects generate complex installations that simultaneously present the study, demonstration and experimentation of their relationship with nature. They investigate the links between human beings and other organisms and inorganic matter, developing long-term projects.

They have been working together on a regular basis since 2002, exhibiting in public and private institutions in Italy and abroad. They are among the founders of the artist collective “Diogene” (www.progettodiogene.eu) and collaborate with the research Center IRIS (Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Sustainability) of the University of Turin and Brescia. They live and work in Cambiano (Turin, Italy).

Among the institutions with which they have collaborated: AIR Krems and kunstraumarcade, Austria, FieldWorks_Wachau (2015); Domaine de Chamarande, France, Vivre/s (2014); Merz Foundation, Turin and Riso Museum, Palermo, Italy, Meteorite in giardino (2014); GAM-Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy, Collezione Sistemica (2012); Khoj International Artists Associations, New Delhi, India, “In Context, food edition I”, Delhi Hand Cart (2012); Mudam, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, Sketches of Space (2010); Marino Marini Museum, Florence, Italy, Azioni 2000-2006 (2006); MART Museum, Rovereto, Italy, Eurasia, Geographic Cross-overs in Art (2008); PAV-Living Art Park, Turin, Italy, Sic Vos non Vobis, Internaturalità, Village Green, Ecosoft Art, Living Material (2014, 2013, 2009, 2008, 2007); CAIRN-Centre d’Art Informel de Recherchesur la Nature, Digne-les-Bains, France, 1Arbre_Populus nigra; De La Transformation Des Choses (2011, 2008); Centre d’Art Le Parvis, Ibos, France, Matières Premières (2007); Obra Social Caja Madrid, Spain, Los Limites del Crecimiento (2007); T1 Turin Triennal, Castello di Rivoli Contemporary Art Museum, The Pantagruel Syndrom, (2005); Villa Croce Contemporary Art Museum, Genova, Italy, Empowerment (2004); Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Turin, Italy, Exit and How Latitudes Become Forms (2002; 2003).



Prof. Dr. Zürcher Ernst, studied as Forestry Engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH-Zürich). He is Doctor in Natural Sciences at the same institute (thesis on tree morphology and wood anatomy). His research activities focus on tree vitality, spiral grain and chronobiology (rhythms in tree growth and wood properties). He led a project of the Swiss Development Cooperation with 4 years activity in Africa / Rwanda (different research projects based on a national research institute, dealing with natural forest dynamics, plantation silviculture, agroforestry and seed technology).
Since 2001 he has been Professor and Researcher at the Berner Fachhochschule / University of Applied Science, School of Achitecture, Civil and Wood Engineering AHB - Division of Wood Engineering in Biel (Switzerland). He led research projects on temperate and tropical wood biology, anatomy, physics and technology, natural wood protection and on the role of felling date on wood properties.
Since 2008 he has been invited lecturer in Wood Science at EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Master degree Section Materials Science and Engineering), and at ETHZ (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich, Master degree Section Environmental Sciences) since 2011.

Please submit your applications via email to: unidee.submission@cittadellarte.it stating “UNIDEE/ZEGNA 2017 residency application (your name)” as a subject line.


For further information about how to apply please check the "Open Calls and Partners" page of the website.