OMELIA CONTADINA, SAN GIMIGNANO
OMELIA CONTADINA, SAN GIMIGNANO, ITALY, 2020
On the occasion of the exhibition « Omelia Contadina », presented at the Galleria Continua from 26 September 2020 to 11 July 2021, a performative event by JR and Alice Rohrwacher, entitled “Processione Omelia Contadina” was set out from the Cathedral of San Gimignano on September 26th.
The project Omelia Contadina was born out of JR’s concern for the difficulties encountered by a large number of small farmers and inhabitants of the Alfina plateau, in Italy.
Alice Rohrwacher explains the origins of the project: “Last autumn, during a walk on the border between Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, I told my friend and artist JR of my concerns about the destruction of the agricultural landscape, violated by the intensive monocultures with which major corporations are shaping entire territories. I told him, as the daughter of a beekeeper, of the mass death of insects that such changes bring about, and of the struggles of small farmers as they try to stem the tide of speculations, subsidies and pesticides. At one point, we stopped at a crossroads: on all sides, uninterrupted rows of hazelnut trees filled the landscape as far as the horizon. As we looked upon this, we commented to each other that it looked like a war cemetery. On the way back we decided that since it looked like a cemetery, we had to hold a funeral. But it had to be a funeral full of life, like a hymn of hope dedicated to all those who keep us alive day after day, producing the food we eat. ».
Alice Rohrwacher and JR returned to the region in early November 2019 to implement their project. The portraits taken by JR of 2 women and 2 men farmers, standard-bearers of traditional agriculture, were printed on large tarpaulins, which the farmers of the Alfina plateau, as well as the inhabitants of the villages of Castel Giorgio and Onano, carried in a filmed procession to the sound of a traditional local brass band. The portraits were then placed in tombs dug in the fields belonging to the farmers. Eulogies were given and the graves were filled in, marking the end of both the film and the symbolic burial.
The short film Omelia Contadina, co-directed by JR and Alice Rohrwacher, was presented at the Venice Film Festival in September 2020.
During the procession in San Gimignano, the farmers' portraits were once again carried in a funeral procession, before being symbolically buried at the entrance to the town.