In conversation with Ruggero Pietromarchi, founder of Terraforma, the international music festival dedicated to artistic experimentation and environmental sustainability, which returns for its eighth edition in the same iconic location, the woodlands of Villa Arconati in Milan, on June 9-10-11. This year edition will bring the festival to a finer level, focusing on incubating its community by providing its visitors and participants with the most memorable experience.
When did Terraforma come into being?
The festival was born in 2014, so it’s almost 10 years, this will be the eighth edition considering the covid years, and like so many projects it was born from consciousness, in that sense there was so much desire to create a music festival with a specific idea. We started with two friends, there were many good intentions, but there was no real business idea, which instead came slowly. Terraforma was born with a strong component related to sustainability, not only environmental, but also human, social and economic. The idea was to develop a project with a strong conceptual slant, which today coincides with the existence of Threes Productions, the cultural enterprise behind it. We wanted to structure ourselves and create a team that would support the festival and all the projects that take on its different languages; there is a strong focus on soil, music and sustainability that is traced through all our initiatives.
You have created a festival that does a lot of numbers, is growing and approaches art holistically and its many expressions. Each year you choose to give a different theme to the content of Terraforma, could you give me a preview of this year’s idea?
The central idea remains that of “Terra-forming,” Terra being the Italian word for Earth. The festival was born with the idea of creating a place of encounter and fruition, a platform to bring together different emerging artists and connect them with an equally diverse audience. We want to broaden the niche of experimental music and bring it to a wider public, to create a new scenario where artists and audiences can meet in a contemporary context. On the other hand, there was also the need to create an event that would be regenerative of a space, the terraforming in this case is linked to Villa Conati, one of the many places in Italy that belongs to the community, as a historical monument, and that was a bit lost-in-translation, abandoned in search of a contemporary re-interpretation. There we developed and brought our cultural content, trying to regenerate the place with some reclamation work on the historical park.
Then there are nuances. In this edition we have been inspired by another element, which is the Organic Music Society; an experience that was born in the 1970s’ when Don Cherry, one of the leading exponents of jazz music at the time, left NYC to move to Sweden, where he met Mocki Cherry, a visual artist with whom he founded a space in which I see a lot of Terraforma. It takes up the same idea of taking music out of its conventional spaces, creating a communal space where we bring together arts and music from around the world through experimentation. Our intention is to bring art and life into a total dimension of living, this through music itself.
At the time, the two artists were invited by the MODERNA MUSEET in Stockholm to relocate their famous commune inside a geodesic dome, where they lived for a few months, realizing workshops, installations, concerts and music exhibition for the museum visitors. This is what we would like to repurpose in this edition of Terraforma. We will reconstruct the Dome in collaboration with Matteo Ghidone’s Salottobuono studio in collaboration with the original Dome’s architect Ben Carling. In that space we will be presenting our new book created with Blank Forms. The space will also feature installations, videos and talks on theme. Their story inspired us and we wanted to reinterpret this contents in a contemporary way.
The human component for you is essential, each year you collaborate with a different artist who can personally portray the vision of the festival. For this year you chose Jim C. Need, what can you tell us about that?
For each edition we ask a different artist to interpret the concept of terraforming, in this case it is the first time we are trying our hand at the media of photography. We chose to work with Jim because he able to use media with great transversality; he comes from a musical background, I feel he belongs strongly to our community. Jim has already exhibited at Terraforma on several occasions, and he is establishing himself as one of the most interesting emerging photographers in the contemporary Milanese scene. He is Colombian, and for the occasion he decided to set the terraforming at the foot of a volcano that is melting, due to climate change. The theme is the confrontation between man and nature, it is meant to metaphorically represent that in this scenario, covered in mud, man can still find a form of communion; and if you think about it, mud is also one of the elements that has marked the most famous festivals in history, think of Woodstock.
Terraforma embraces the concept of rootedness in an innovative and contemporary way, today we are looking for experiences that reconnect us with the more human sense of things, and also through music. How have you seen the festival evolve over the years?
The project has always been very ambitious, and challenging from a human point of view. What has amazed us is that our idea has really helped to create a proper socio-cultural experience, people are brought into a space where they are enriched from both a cultural and a human point of view. We try to create a space that engages individuals and their need to feel grounded on all levels.
What can we expect from the line-up of this edition?
Terraforma was created with the intention of breaking away from commercial music, there will be several stages but there will be no overlapping; it will play one artist at a time. The curatorial line-up is well-defined and precise, we want to create spaces where the audience remains cohesive; the program is highly experimental, this year much more than in past years, we are going back to the origins. An experimental, intimate and human dimension.
How do you think this project will evolve in the future? What should we expect?
Good question! There is so much going on. The festival is evolving, there are so many satellite planets that are connected to the Terraforma universe. There is our semi-annual publication, the Terraforma Journal, and a project called A Planet As Festival that is routing all over Europe, and everything is growing so fast. Terraforma is becoming a real platform with multiple fertile spaces, all interconnected, and we are very excited about everything that is coming in the future.