Site-specific art installation at the railway station of Padua

The Street Geography. Drawing cities for a sustainable future project stemmed from the collaboration between several geographers at the DiSSGeA (University of Padova) and the Progetto Giovani Office (Cabinet of the Mayor of the Municipality of Padova) with the aim of encouraging the dialogue between scientific research, art-practice, and the citizens of Padova. At the foundation of the project was the idea that academic knowledge should contribute to the conceptualization and realization of more meaningful and sustainable cities. The three keywords of the project, namely Neighborhoods, Mobility and Waterways, were intended not only as geographical concepts that contain some of the most significant contemporary urban phenomena and dynamics at the local and global levels; they were also used as the key concepts around which the artists have developed their site-specific installations to create a public art exhibition that crossed the city of Padova from north to south, along the tramline’s route, from September to October 2018.

Together with the curators at the Progetto Giovani Office, each artist collaborated with a geographer, who provided reflections on the key concept and the associated site. Engaged in this partnership, the three artists developed their own site narration: Fabio Roncato with a diffused installation titled At the Antipodes There is the Ocean for the Arcella neighborhood, Mónica Bellido Mora for the railway station, Caterina Rossato with an installation called Distances for the Lungargine Scaricatore at Bassanello. These works aimed to question the ways that the people live in cities, the issues of co-existence, and the meanings of change, movement and relationships in our shared and highly mobile urban spaces. In particular, A STATION OF STORIES: MOVING NARRATIONS was the site-specific art installation realised in the railway station of Padua by illustrator and cartoonist Mónica Bellido Mora (Mexico City, 1990), in collaboration with the Italian publishing house BeccoGiallo. The railway station functioned as a stage for a comic-strip story with the station itself as the protagonist. In Mónica’s story the building comes alive; as a non-human narrator, it speaks with its own voice and tells citizens, commuters and tourists about its daily repetitive, but also ever-changing, routine. The comic author’s illustrated panels invited visitors to perceive the station in new ways, focusing on the interconnection of mobile routes, existences and stories that cross in the same space. The story’s point of view made possible to consider the multiple values of transit spaces, interpreted as sentient beings that contain narratives, which are multilayered in space and time.

Thus, the railway station was transformed into a place of new relationships and experience, awareness and imagination.

The Street Geography scientific project was realised by Giada Peterle, Tania Rossetto and Mauro Varotto, University of Padova, DiSSGeA. The curatorial project was curated by Stefania Schiavon and Caterina Benvegnù, Progetto Giovani Office, Municipality of Padova. The project was funded by the Erasmus Mundus joint Master in Sustainable Territorial Development – STeDe, the AIIG Veneto, the GAI – Giovani Artisti Italiani.