The Castle of Monteserico rises not far from the battlefield where the Normans and Byzantines clashed, the focal point of a great parable that from Robert Guiscard (buried in nearby Venosa, Potenza, near his magnificent Incompiuta, his unfinished temple) led to the conquest of Sicily and the creation of artistic languages that linked Byzantine mosaic art, Norman military strength, Romanesque sense of the sacred and Arab architectural technology and styles (ogival arches, muqarnas, wind towers, etc.): a sampling of forms and proto-engineering methods that were fundamental for the art of the whole Europe over the next three or four centuries.
The Castle of Monteserico, in its simple and net form of a square-based tower surrounded by walls, is documented as far back as the Norman era. It dominates from a slight rise a landscape of extraordinary beauty, with gently and mysteriously waved fields of wheat and dotted with traces of the Riforma agraria, the agrarian reform that in the 1950s tried, unsuccessfully, to alter the magnetic and solitary vocation of the place with the irruption of
modernity and the creation of housing estates, now abandoned. Today, there are 36,000 hectares of land currently devoid of human presence for kilometres: a space of impending and
unexpected vacuity vibrating towards the desert dimension. It is a sort of huge canvas on which it is possible to write new models of relationship based on art and culture.
With the Mediterranean contemporary art prize, the castle is reconverted in a new way to human conviviality, returning to its function and usability after its conservative restoration in
2012. The participation of artists and users in large, diversified spaces, ventilated and easily quotable in terms of presences, will bring back the centre of attention and relations a place of unusual energy. Thanks to the participation of artists and visitors in large, diversified, ventilated spaces, the prize wants to focus on this place once again, making its unusual energy the centre of new attentions and relations.
Basilicata is the vocational context of the prize: from eighteenth-century archaeologists to nineteenth-century travellers and throughout the investigations of the most outstanding photographers, architects and anthropologists of modernity in the twentieth century, Basilicata has been considered as a land of otherness. This is a character that becomes even more useful
today, a rare material of extreme importance for the construction of an artistic experience aimed at cultural elaboration of the present time. A fundamental path for the artist who grasps – with responsibility and historical awareness – the opportunity to reflect on behalf of that part of society that is caged in the production and consumerism systems of the global context, and often experiences an impoverishment of the quality of its own intellectual and spiritual life.