CRAC, a contemporary dream

Nicoletta Grasso - ph Serena Belcastro What’s something that makes a shocking noise? We have little doubt, it’s definitely CRAC.

CRAC, as with an object that breaks, or as a crack that allows a glimmer of light, or CRAC as the Research Center for Contemporary Arts in Lamezia (Cz), the new destination in the geographical map of art in Italy. The center born from a bright idea, the result of the return to a period of break-through artists, born from the necessity to be themselves also in Calabria.
Nicoletta Grasso has decided to do just that having brought home her experiences as a visual and performing artist acquired over years of living in Italy and Europe.  We meet Nicoletta at the end of A Burning Autumn Under a Southern Sky, her first exhibition of performing arts hosted in the setting of the CRAC.

Is our region really ready for this type of initiative?

“In Calabria, in my opinion, there is absolutely room for these ideas seeing that it’s virgin territory from this point of view. There are certainly really interesting working in the field but different from CRAC or FRAC – exhibition held last summer – who instead are a real first. I am very happy to have taken this initiative, but at the same time I have some hesitation because I happen to feel a sense of loneliness and sometimes disorientation. The greatest satisfaction was to be able to stimulate an audience by new means offering something different. Obviously on the one hand it was relatively easy to begin this adventure, on the other, I met all the difficulties that go along with starting from scratch and finding a way to reach people who are not in this kind of entourage.”

A Burning Autumn Under a Southern Sky, in Lamezia since last October to 17 January, a succession of visual and performing arts, dance, theater and live show hosted at CRAC, a former computer school. “The total experience of this exposition is undoubtedly positive.  I wanted to bring to my hometown subjects that were essential for me and that are part of my background, like art and music, as well as those that fit my aesthetic ideals. In recent months we have been able to offer many events without necessarily having to classify the arts and separate them from one another, this is the particularity that can be found at the CRAC. We have reached a wide enough target audience ranging from teens, or younger, to those similar in age to my parents and I am fully satisfied. The reaction was very good, sometimes it happened that the public did not understand what they were seeing or hearing but there was a lot of curiosity.”

We asked Nicole what was the reaction of the artists, many of international fame, when she was asked to participate in an exhibition located outside of the classic artistic circuits of Italy.

“Artists have fully embraced the cause, believing in the project from the beginning. Starting with Giulia Perelli, a great actress who officially opened the exhibition and who has collaborated with the dancers from the area giving rise to a performance staged over three days. All artists have left something with CRAC, and with me personally, and they all left very nice feedback. I have collaborated in the past with all of them and I will continue to do so during the course of my life. ”

The exhibiton just ended in Lamezia, preceded by FRAC research Festival for Contemporary Arts, held last July in the spectacular location of the Renaissance Palace of Aieta, a small village in the province of Cosenza. All the rooms of the building were used for live shows and performances while the last day of the festival was held at a specific side-event site in the breathtaking setting of the island of Dino, below the town of Cosenza. “I’m already working on the new edition of the FRAC but, reluctantly, I must announce that the location is not yet confirmed. The location was perfect but logistically proved impractical, so this year the festival will not be held in Aieta. I thought of another location, near Lamezia, equally interesting and definitely good as a starting point to visit other locations nearby such as Tropea or even the Aeolian Islands that can be reached from a port in the vicinity.”

All that has been produced and designed to give life to these two splendid exhibitions is the result of constant artistic research, hard work which unfortunately leaves a few notes of bitterness. “For projects like CRAC, FRAC or Color Fest it is essential to receive support from the institutions, it is not possible that young people like me have to personally invest in order bring life to these endeavours.  One cannot come to rely on their own resources to bring Calabria to the artistic level of the other regions, without the support from the region, it is absurd. How can we even consider, we young people, to come back to Calabria, and find work?  I was lucky because I had my job and I have pursued this idea thanks to a start-up, but at some point I’ll expect to be given some help, I’m proposing a festival that is a mix of visual arts, music, photography, theater, and dance, how can you not support such a project?  It is a very serious thing, it is a challenge, but without the support of the institutions how can we improve the festival year after year?”