This year’s international landscape workshop LandWorks was held among the ruins and abandoned spaces of a military base on the island of Caprera. Now in its third year, the project is driven and promoted by the local authorities, including the Ente Parco, Comune della Maddalena, Regione Sardegna and Ente Foreste, with the aim of inspiring ideas for new uses and the conversion of these abandoned locations.
Although recently much used and abused on the Venetian university scene, the expression “theatres of war” does seem to fit this year’s workshop, plunged into what remains of a now-dormant military life. Set against the backdrop of a marine landscape that is all too popular for its beautiful coastlines (it is, after all, the Maddalena Archipelago), it remains dotted with the powerful signs of attack and defence structures linked to a totally different philosophy.
This changing context calls for the projection of a different future awareness of the Mediterranean landscape, one that previously had its own “theatre”, triangulations and places of refuge, and one that impressed its own mentality and laws on the social framework of the local communities. Today, what remains are crumbling constructions, stones, rubble and iron worn away by the sea salt, all mixed with intensely fragrant vegetation, the erosive action of the ever-present and relentless wind and a hugely inviting sea.
It started with a piece of woollen cloth, a long blanket on which red thread was employed to tell a story in homage to Maria Lai, an artist who died recently, and express the roots of this land. Red embroidery on the walls of an abandoned fort narrates a story in many languages, a meditation on the landscape that adopted needle and thread rather than rake and spade but which still successfully forged a link between the history of a land and the landscapes that are its tangible expression. Sue Anne Ware and Gabriella Trovato had the job of guiding this group of landscape embroiderers.
In different ways and in a dune habitat, the group coordinated by Carlo Scoccianti produced a work that reflects on the interaction between humans and natural processes.
Punta Rossa, a narrow strip of rock covered with the installations of the abandoned military base, became a rich microcosm in a composite and narrative work placed here by the group led by Craig Verzone. Crossing the back of this petrified cetacean, strewn with the trenches and platforms of cannons that are no more, you come across 18 installations that describe the many ways people can coexist with these ruins and discover languages that unveil their presence on the landscape.
Deserted houses and stores on the water’s edge were brought to life by expressive figures created by Roberto Zancan’s group, intimate apparitions that appear suddenly along the way of those lost in the blinding light of the outdoor spaces. It is the wind that fills the sails arranged on the quay and moves tiny white ribbons hanging from a mesh of taut threads.
The Landworks Sardinia 2013 workshop was led by a technical committee composed of Stefan Tischer and Annacaterina Piras, in collaboration with DADU-Università di Sassari and the Master in Mediterranean Landscape Urbanism.