Each June, during the European Summer, the Nature, Art & Habitat Residency, An ECO-Laboratory of Multidisciplinary Practice, located in Taleggio Valley, Bergamo, Italy, creates the opportunity for a cross-disciplinary cohort to spent a month of creative community in the astonishing environs of this area. An AP subscriber-poet is part of this each year. Each year the Fellows create individual and collaboratives folios around that year’s theme, which for 2023 was AIR: Commons, Chaotic Fluid, Inspiration. The works are then archived and accessible. Quoting NAHR directly (nahr.it), it is ‘a summer program that aims to unfold and display a sensitive type of culture that relates to nature as a source of inspiration and a measure of available resources. The ultimate goal of NAHR is to unveil intimate links among all living organisms for more resilient development in which humans and nature are shown to coexist.’ Fellows need to pay for travel and food costs but NAHR covers the entire month’s costs, including accommodation at its stunning location.
Since 2017, AP has had the precious privilege of partnering with the residency, with NAHR, after an approach by its founder, Ilaria Mazzoleni, who is also the founder of IM Studio Milano/Los Angeles. An architect highly reputed in their own right for their practice and knowledge around sustainability, Ilaria is also a writer and educator. This year’s NAHR/AP Fellow was Lou Garcia-Dolnik, whose report and images from the residency are below. Open to AP Subscribers, the annual call-out is announced in December with a late January closure and a jury featuring past alumni assesses this very competitive award. Previous NAHR/AP Fellows are Simon Eales, in the partnership’s inaugural year of 2017; Eunice Andrada; Rachael Mead; Mindy Gill (this physical residency, however, was disrupted due to COVID travel lockdowns); and Lou (2023). There was no partnership in 2022, due to post-COVID impacts.
To quote NAHR further: ‘With the onset of the Anthropocene and considering current pressing climatic threats, the NAHR program supports deep investigations into this environment and its functions by challenging creative and critical minds to produce innovative interpretations of nature as a resilient but fragile resource and setting. We hope to receive proposals from across multiple disciplines, and we anticipate that projects will be focused on deepening awareness of how humans can engage responsibly in shaping the future of our natural spheres.
‘By looking macroscopically at the Earth’s ecosystems – climate, geology, soil, water, air, sun – and then reading microscopically the Valley’s natural characteristics, including flowers, ferns, bees, pebbles, barns, villagers, shops, and more, NAHR intends to invite participants to investigate different natural components each year: their felt presence and integrated coexistence in the Taleggio Valley. We ask, and expect to challenge, participants to approach their surroundings in novel ways.’
Previous NAHR topics include: The Woods; Rock and Stone; Water: Vital Flux, Energy in Transformation; Grasses and Pastures: Imagining a Regenerative Economy of Cheese; Coexistence; Animals: Interdependence Between Species; and Soil: The Critical Zone.
The NAHR/AP Fellow writes a report on the residency and poems from their work there are published in a subsequent Australian Poetry Journal volume. Lou’s report, with poems, will also feature in December’s APJ 13.1—‘place, nonplace’ volume.
NAHR will live stream a PachA Kucha event presenting work from 2023 fellows on Oct. 22 10-11.30AM PST and later it will be available on its YouTube channel.
Anyone can follow NAHR on social media IG @nahr.it and Facebook @nahr17 for all updates on events and calls. There will also be a brochure available at some point featuring the work of the 2023 Fellows.
–Jacinta Le Plastrier / AP CEO
By Lou Garcia-Dolnik
While in Sottochiesa, I took advantage of the Valley’s breathtaking surrounds to develop a poetics that integrates place-based research with my pursuits in voice, tone and lyricism.
Of note were our group hikes to surrounding villages and time spent with local knowledge custodian Angelo Locatelli whose enormous generosity and warm-hearted approach to sharing local agrarian traditions and technologies enriched my understanding of the Valley’s social and ecological constitutions. The resultant work reflected both the time I spent absorbing the Valley’s regional character and the relational context of the residency, which hosted visual artists, architects and filmmakers: the centrepiece of my work, an addition to more ‘traditional’ poems, was a three-dimensional poetic triptych which I made to move, sail-like, with the wind. In that work, I took after my co-residents whose diverse practices encouraged me to explore poetry’s spatial possibilities beyond and above the page. NAHR has marked a change in my practice away from the static (digital and printed) document towards installed work that is site-responsive. I’m grateful to my co-residents, Sara Invernizzi and the many migrant communities who call Sottochiesa home who, in turn, made me feel like I could make a temporary home in the Valley.