Ceramic is living today a new critical and design dimension which can be recognized and appreciated in the many exhibitions dedicated to this artistic means and in the extensive interest that it’s attracting as a truly contemporary language.
Ceramic is intended as an expressive means particularly keen in interpreting contemporary times in a sculptural way, combining very strong executive and technical know-how with an intrinsic fragility, becoming sculpture in all senses and overcoming the categories of minor arts or high quality craft (as exemplified by the 55th Biennial of Venice, where many artworks in ceramic were exhibited).
With the objective of enhancing and nurturing ceramic in Europe, comprising tradition and contemporary impulses, the project named ARGINET (Artistic ‘Argilla’ Clay Actions for EU Ceramic Network) started at the beginning of December 2012, springing from the relations established in the field of ceramic among the city of Faenza, in particular through the event Argillà Italia, and other European cities organising similar ceramic festivals and market-fairs.
Argillà Italia itself was created as a derivative action from its mother-event Argilla in Aubagne (France) – of which the 13th edition will be held in August 2015 – and in the last years it has developed a number of synergies, collaborations and cooperation agreements with similar European ceramic festivals and market-fairs: Töpfermarkt in Gmunden (Austria), sister city of Faenza, Fira del Càntir in Argentona (Spain) and Święto Ceramiki in Bolesławiec (Poland).
Great exhibitions, museums and art galleries are turning their lights and reserving an important place in their programmes to ceramic, between tradition and experimentation.
In this context, festivals and market-fairs represent an important step to enhance ceramic production: besides providing meeting and dialogue occasions for artists and field operators, these events are dedicated to the diffusion of ceramic culture to a wide public, overcoming the circle of professionals. The programmes of the events give the chance to know and come in touch with techniques and manufacturing processes, such as the work at the potter’s wheel and the firing in different kinds of kilns; ceramic becomes also the object of animations, street theatre’s shows and other moments of involvement and participation of the public, thus providing an original and unusual perception of this material and building a cultural and informative dimension, at the side of the commercial one.
Despite their excellence and their important role in preserving the knowledge of traditional handicraft and artistic ceramic, the organization and participation to these events is often local, as far as it concerns the involved artists and craftsmen as well as the public. ARGINET aims at filling this gap, with the objective of realizing a stronger cultural integration at the European level of market-fairs dedicated to ceramic.
Starting from the existing network among the participating cities – a real intangible heritage composed by relations and synergies among subjects and events – ARGINET is a cultural diffusion project (financed with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union) with the objective of creating a system of innovative and sustainable actions of dialogue and intercultural exchange, of collaboration and transnational mobility of cultural operators in the field of artistic ceramic. As underlined before, the Municipality of Faenza is the coordinator of the project, in which the other co-organising cities are Aubagne (France), Gmunden (Austria), Bolesławiec (Poland) e Argentona (Spain).
The coordination of the events dedicated to artistic ceramic is one of the main goals: in fact, ARGINET aims at developing structured and long-term collaborations among these similar and complementary events, fostering the participation of foreign artists and public, improving the qualitative level and intensifying the flow of visitors.
Within ARGINET, the ceramic network among the five cities is also a way to promote cultural integration, mainly through the exchange of best practices between the different areas and the circulation of cultural operators, such as ceramic artists and craftsmen, pottery wheel operators, educators, masters of ceramic techniques and firing, musicians with ceramic instruments, actors, video-makers and in general artists and creative people specialized in works that involve ceramic: a series of routes that until November 2014 will cross Europe and will draw a sort of fil rouge of European ceramic, creating the basis for future collaborative projects and common actions.
The exchange and cooperation actions have also the objective of fostering the market, enhancing new production of ceramic work, activities, and cultural and economic services in support of the operators of the field. On this basis, the idea is to start and consolidate economic and entrepreneurial experiences on a wider scale, as a consequence of the direct and cross interaction and cooperation between artists and operators from different countries, but operating in the same field.
ARGINET will therefore organize specific actions during the events, aiming at the involvement and enhancement of artists, potters and operators through a mutual exchange of best practices and experiences in a joint, systematic and sustainable framework – integrating at a European level a number of actions that are already in place at the local level in each of the participating towns.
This is ARGINET, a biennial project (concluding in November 2014) that will develop and enhance the network of ceramic in Europe, guaranteeing at the same time a consolidation of the relations and cooperation agreements, pursuing a long-term functioning and sustainability of the exchange processes and innovative actions realized.