PLACES OF THOUGHT
HOW IT WORKS
The spaces in which Altofest takes place are private homes, of various nature, of different sizes, located in different neighborhoods of the city.
Some extra-domestic places are added, spaces that are often representative of the city, that are in various ways frequented and/or personally cared for by resident citizens.
Artistic Residency and Hospitality
The artists are hosted in the homes of resident citizens, whom we call “space donors”. Citizens and artists live together for a total of two weeks, which includes a period of artistic residency and the following opening of the works to the public.
The artists therefore stay and work in the same space: informal, domestic, daily.
The scheduled artists have the task of questioning and rewriting their work by relying on the elements present in the spaces that host them.
Programming and Participation
The public opening usually lasts 5 days and takes up almost the whole day; offering to his community an immersive experience.
All interventions are free of charge, by reservation.
The Altofest program is mostly international.
The original works belong to the field of live art (theater, dance, performance, and their interdisciplinary and experimental variations).
The artistic interventions alternate with in-depth meetings, public moments of debate: many activities of a hybrid, documentary, speculative, convivial nature.
As a poietic act and political exercise, Altofest has to be participated and not consumed. The spectators are therefore an active part and responsible for its success, as the organizers, the citizens who donate space, the artists, the expert guests, the staff, thanks to which Altofest can happen and can be offered for free as a gift.
Picnic and Voice Over
A place where the community comes together to share food and thoughts – at mid-day; an interval between performances, during which people eat all together. It is also where the “Voice Over” takes place: a meeting dedicated to the analysis of the works of the artists.
The Hovering City
Altofest is built with the participation of resident citizens, who host national and international artists in their homes.
Every citizen who participates in the project is its structural and founding part, not user or recipient, but an agent of the process; they take care of the work of art, and the artist in turn takes care of his host and his community of reference.
Altofest combines the intimate dimension of houses with the aesthetic and poetic dimension of works and artistic processes that citizens welcome in their domestic spaces. The work of art breaks into everyday life, letting the poetic part of existence to emerge.
The basic elements of the device are therefore its community and the ideal geography that takes shape from it: a hybrid dimension that brings together territories and people. What we call the “hovering city” is founded by the permanence of connections over time, the frequency of relationships, and the persistence of the space that the community “inhabits”.
To Give Rise
The project was born in Naples in 2011, conceived by TeatrInGestAzione, as an act of artistic and political resistance, with the aim of GIVING PLACE to a large and heterogeneous community, generating a critical thought.
Altofest activates a transversal process, which calls to dialogue all the social components of the urban fabric in which it engages; aiming at overcoming roles, in favour of choral participation, of a total experience that generates “unprecedented relationships”. This is caused by a semantic interference between the flow of daily life and the accomplishment of artistic creation in the domestic space. The daily life is permeated by the foreign vision, where the bearer are the diversified languages of the live arts that are hosted in the program. This gives rise to a shared space of risk, where the community has the opportunity to meet and speak in a common language, to be re-generated.
The overcoming of territorial and cultural distances is possible thanks to a single collective ritual, that spreads equally in all the houses, which becomes the space of artistic residence. Every single relationship between artist and citizen becomes a particular experience of that housing cell, but at the same time is part of a common, lasting and extensive poetic action, which by contact spreads to the social circles and all the communities of reference of the residents, generating an unprecedented dynamic in an urban space.
Every single relationship between artist and citizen becomes a distinct experience of that house-cell, but at the same time, it is part of a common, lasting and extensive poetic action, which by contact spreads to the social circles and communities of reference of the residents, generating unprecedented dynamics in urban space. The foreign artist, the guest, welcomed with a legitimate purpose (the creation of a work of art) brings light on the deposited glances that lie on the always flowing stream of faces, clothes, means of transport, acquaintances, relatives. The questions that emerge with each new contact, so the news of the imminent event and its daily preparation spreads everywhere.
The citizen who hosts the foreign artist in his home for two weeks – which in turn becomes a public space by opening up to the observers – he/she finds himself/herself living in alien space, albeit with familiar forms, where the borders of public and private spaces are blurred. The inhabitant who donates his home and time takes a proactive position, a perspective posture, that is no longer passive compared to his community, in which not he is not asking anymore but acting and finally opening the door of the house to a public event. An unusual movement of people then moves the city. From one place to another on the map of events, spontaneous groups of visitors organise themselves into unusual itineraries, separating and reuniting at every corner to share the Altofest experience. The voices multiply on the streets, bringing images, narrations, opinions. An interstitial emotional map of urban space emerges, poetically inhabited.
Altofest is a human-specific project of experimental sociality that is based on values such as proximity, gift, hospitality. It is not just a matter of hosting work in your own home, but of letting the daily presence of an artist at work contaminate the vision of those who live or cross that same space. The artist’s creative urgency merges with the needs of his host, in a dialogue that redefines the work, the signs that make it up, as well as the inhabited space and the objects that define it as “familiar”.
The gift is the constraint through which the expropriation of one follows the expropriation of the other. The work dislocated, deprived of the conditions guaranteed by the formal space for which it was born, inhabits a new space, geometries, and memory. The private is no longer personal but a shared intimacy.
The device is conceived as a performance in the shape of a festival. His dramaturgy corresponds to the plot of itineraries and routes that guide the inhabitant of the Fest in an orchestrated succession of urban landscapes and domestic intimacy that are crossed by artistic interventions.
The live dramaturgy of the fest is corresponded by the tracing of a proliferating reflection, which germinates from the experiences to which Altofest gives rise and which settles year after year through a series of dialogues, opportunities for discussion, words, and writings.
The curatorial perspective on which Altofest is drawn on, originates from meticulous attention to the one-to-one relationship that is established between artist and donor, letting the generative potential of this meeting spread to the system of relationships within which each one moves, through the different layers of inhabiting.
The theme of each edition is defined by analyzing the contents and the recurring aesthetic directions of the selected works. These are intertwined with the poetic-political questions embedded in the device itself. For this reason, we speak of a composition “by emersion” of the dramaturgy of Altofest: we do not want to have a predetermined definition of the thematic orientation of each edition. The high number of proposals that we receive every year and the global range of the places where they come from, allows us to keep reading, attentive observers of political and aesthetic issues, which circulate between the continents and move different paths of artistic research. Therefore, the composition of the works generates a field of reflection and debate on the reasons of the poetics that are exposed in the selected works.
Places of Thought
The processing of the theoretical questions that emerge from the experience of the device is entrusted to the Co.R (Research Community), composed of authors, researchers and scholars, bearers of multiple perspectives and skills who are invited to inspire reflective practices and spaces for discussion, involving and challenging the Composite Community of the Fest.
Texture is a platform animated by operators and cultural experts (project managers, festival and festival directors, representatives of institutions and artistic organizations), invited to dialogue, compare and share projects, visions, and cultural practices.
Altofest was born in Naples in 2011, conceived and curated by TeatrInGestAzione, directed by Gesualdi | Trono, in dialogue with Loretta Mesiti as dramaturg.
It was awarded by the EFA (European Festival Association) with the EFFE AWARD 2017-18 (Europe for Festivals Festivals for Europe), resulting in the six best European festivals among more than 715 candidates. In 2018 it was included as a best practice in the annual report “Io Sono Cultura 2018” (t/n, I am culture), edited by Symbola Foundation. Also, in 2018, the Italian Ministry of Culture awarded it with the “European Year of Heritage” label. Winner of the calls: Funder35 (2016); SIAE-Sillumina (2017); Allianz Kulturstiftung (2019). In 2018 Altofest left the borders of Naples for the first time, inaugurating a series of special editions commissioned by different European Capitals of Culture and international Institutions: Altofest Malta 2018 for Valletta 2018 ECoC; Altofest Matera-Basilicata 2019 for Matera 2019 ECoC; and on 2022 a re-edition for Valletta, commissioned by the Valletta Cultural Agency. It is also included in the Kaunas 2022 nomination dossier and Trenčín 2026’s bid book as Every Part Counts’ key project, acting as a de facto connector of a “spontaneous” network among the cities sharing this title. Furthermore, Altofest is an indicator of the cultural interest in the town of Naples in the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor tool of the European Commission.
Altofest is an independent project based on its widespread community. It lives of the gift of TeatrInGestAzione members in the amount of time, skills, and money (to the extent of their own possibilities), the gift of citizens who offer space and hospitality, artists who share their work, staff, volunteers, the participation of some healthy local realities, professionals and scholars, and cultural experts, national and international, who offer their skills and tools interweaving their visions with those of Altofest.