top of page

Bravo Arte Sella: Contemporary Mountain!

0121-1110=115075 by Korean JaeHyo Lee 2015. Photo: Giacomo Bianca, Arte Sella.

This Art-Nature-Tourism destination is an outdoor museum in Northern Italy, a tourism draw card that blends mountain hiking with contemporary art. Set in spectacular Alpine landscapes, Val di Sella, with its forests, woodland glades and summer pastures is around 900 meters above sea-level and surrounded by mountains, which rise almost sheer to a series of a dozen peaks over 2,000 meters high.

This remote and beautiful region is fighting off a shattering attack of the COVID -19 pandemic. This blog is a tribute to the people and culture of Trentino, their strength and perseverance. It is also to highlight Arte Sella: Contemporary Mountain to Australian tourists who love Italy and will return.

It is an Art-Nature-Tourism model to inspire creative tourism development in remote and regional Australia following our devastating bush fires in January 2020.

Set in a valley high above Borgo Valsugana, it attracts some 80,000+ visitors a year. Over 200 artists from all over Europe and countries as distant as Azerbaijan, South Africa, Israel, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan have created artworks in the park which can be visited in the course of a walk lasting about two hours. Visiting this exhibition means taking in the creativity and mastery of sculptors blended with the beauty, sound and smell of the woods, making it a unique multi-sensory experience.

The valley is remote, peppered with clusters of cottages and small hotels, but devoid of any substantial villages. It has evolved into a spectacular 'museum without walls'.

The dynamic and charming Art Director Emanuele Montibeller re-affirms the cardinal principles of the original manifesto that has inspired this project from the start. "Strong bonds were formed with the local people and the artist is not the absolute protagonist of the artworks but accepts that nature completes his/her work. Nature must be protected as a vault of nature. Nature is not only protected, but interpreted, even in its absence, thus changing the ecological relationship. They come from the landscape and then return to nature."

The exhibits are mostly, not exclusively, created using locally found materials—i.e. stones, leaves, logs, twigs, etc. Some art pieces are even interwoven with live plants and trees, making them alive and ever-changing.

Art is immersed in the regenerative cycle of the surrounding environment.

‘Il Seme’ (The Seed) Alison Stigora 2016 Photo Giacomo Bianchi Arte Sella

There are a series of sculpture trails. The Artenatura trail winds its way through the forest on the Southern side of Mount Armentera. The Malga Costa, previously a farm with a barn which was the stable for the farm animals, is now a Concert Hall and the farmhouse, a meeting place for artists and designers. The infrastructure has evolved over 30 years to cater for a contemporary arts festival of art, music and dance, a tribute to the strength, tenacity and volunteerism of this rural and remote community.

The Arts Sella: Contemporary Mountain has survived many catastrophes since its humble beginnings in the 1980s. It has thrived despite major setbacks.

Initially it was resisted by the local communities who were hostile to the idea viewing it as an “eccentric, outlandish absurdity” but it is now a source of community pride and regional income.

It has weathered devastating storms in 2018 that destroyed many works (now restored or replaced) and this year the region has been hit by the Covid19 pandemic.

The storms destroyed most of the artistic installations in Val di Sella. The art path around Villa Strobele “was invaded by tree trunks” that crashed to the ground. Now, fully restored to its original conditions, Arte Sella presents new artworks from sculptors, designers and architects based on the seasons.

It is an internationally recognized Art-Nature-Tourism destination and is embedded in a European network including ELAN (European Land Art Network), Dancing Museums and Grandi Giardini Italiani (Grand Gardens of Italy) in partnership with organizations from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Together they support projects and programs to develop Land Art in rural areas and cultural landscapes.

Tree Cathedral by Guiliano Mauri 2001 Photo Courtesy of Arte Sella

“The works come out of the landscape, they inhabit it and, according to nature’s time scale, they return to it again.” Guiliano Mauri

Tree Cathedral by Guiliano 2001

Arte Sella: Contemporary Mountain commenced when a group of friends got together in the 1980s to create an open dialogue between creativity and the natural world. They had a radical vision to combine contemporary art with nature in their own remote and beautiful environment. The survival and long-term success of Arte Sella lies in the strength of its original manifesto. A 'biophilic' contract with Nature, it sets a challenge for the artists to work with Nature and to commit their work to the landscape forever, until their work perishes or decays.

The invited artists are not the absolute protagonist of the artworks but must accept that Nature completes his/her work. As an exhibition site, Nature must be protected as a vault (or tomb) for the artwork.

Fisherman’s Stilt House by Arne Quinze 2017 Photo Giacomo Bianci for Arte Sella

Patrick Dougherty, Tana Libera Tutti, 2011- Arte Sella – Photo Giacomo Bianchi

Aeneas Wilder, no title – copyright Arte Sella – Photo Giacomo Bianchi

Wassergehäuse Roger Rigorth 2013 Photo Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

Wassergehäuse Roger Rigorth 2013 Photo Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

Forest Byoubu Atsushi Kitagawara 2017 Arte Sella

Simbiosi by Eduardo Tresoldi 2019 Photo by Roberto Conte Courtesy Arte Sella

Simbiosi by Eduardo Tresoldi 2019 Photo by Roberto Conte Courtesy Arte Sella

Simbiosi by Italian installation artist Eduardo Tresoldi responds to the repercussions of the 2018 storm. “Last year some strong winds destroyed a big part of this green heaven and generated a new space in the landscape. Arte Sella is a really magical place where you can find artworks made by land artists that I admire… My installation.. has a deep connection with the forest.”

Simbiosi by Eduardo Tresoldi 2019 Photo by Roberto Conte Courtesy Arte Sella

‘Kodama’ by Kengo Kuma 2018 Photo by Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

‘A fior di pelle’ (Skin Deep) Stuart Frost 2012 Photo Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

‘Radice Comune’ by Henrique Oliveira Photo by Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

Pietre (Stones) by François Lelong 2008 Courtesy Arte Sella Photo Walter Donega

‘Dentro/Fuori’ (Inside /Out) by Michele de Lucchi Photo by Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

‘Dentro/Fuori’ (Inside /Out) by Michele de Lucchi Photo by Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

La Donna Invisibile’ Cedric Le Borgne 2019 Photo Giacomo Bianchi Courtesy Arte Sella

Teatro Sella Rainer Gross 2016 Va l de Sella, Borgo Vasugana Malga Costa Il

Text: JOMO Jo Moulton 2020


bottom of page