When people form their identities far away from their places of birth, they often feel the need, later in life, to give back to their original homes. After many years abroad, a longing to return home, to share its bounty, as it were, grows. Such is the case with visual artist and entrepreneur Pietro Costa, who is currently the helm and founder of a new and exciting project: B.A.C.A.S. (Borghi Antichi Cultura Arti Scienze), a multidisciplinary arts and cultural center offering residencies for artists and scholars from all over the world.
Created in New York but with its home at Castello Macchiaroli, a 12th century castle located in the medieval town of Teggiano, located in the Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni - both UNESCO World Heritage sites- in an impressively beautiful area of Campania (one of Italy’s twenty regions in the south western part of the country), BACAS launches this July.
Pietro Costa, a native of nearby Sant’Arsenio, envisioned the possibility of BACAS years ago, when he invited his friend Denver Butson, an American poet, to contribute his poetry to an exhibition commemorating the events and victims of 9/11 that Pietro was installing in the Cappella delle Donne of the Certosa di San Lorenzo (a Charterhouse) in the town of Padula, a magnificent architectural gem in Italy - another UNESCO world heritage site.
Butson, who had recently finished a residency in Alto Adige, fell in love with the southern region as well. Costa felt Butson would not be the only outsider to be inspired by the secluded, wild, and yet gentle natural beauty of the land with its many unknown architectural treasures, its less-traveled coastline (which perhaps inspired the legendary tale of the sirens in Homer), and its rich, centuries-old traditions. Together, Costa and Butson imagined a place where creative and intellectual minds could retreat for a while to meditate, exchange ideas, create, collaboratively or alone just like the monastic orders that settled the territory hundreds of years before.
They started brainstorming about BACAS and scouting for a home, leaving the project to hibernate while one was found, allowing over a decade to lapse.
In 2015, while Pietro negotiated on a location with the administration of his home town, which eventually fell through, he met and asked Rossella Siani, a young celebrated architect, to come aboard and curate the architecture programming.
Even though we grew up a few miles apart in the Vallo, in 2016, I met Pietro in Brooklyn through a mutual friend of Denver and I was asked to come aboard on the project and curate the Italian literature program.
I didn’t even blink before saying yes. I became an adult and an artist in New York like Pietro and yet, like Pietro, the core of who I am has been molded in the very land where we were born. It was there that I began to dream, to envision the future, to create, as it were, the matter of the life I built when I grew up. In my case, nostos, the return, has been my metaphor of choice since the first time I read Homer’s Odyssey, at 12, and it has been the narrative of my life ever since, the matter of my novels. All of one’s achievements make sense only if they are shared and especially when they are brought back home, like in the case of Odysseus.
Finally, after much planning, dreaming, and searching, in August of 2017 Pietro met Gisella Macchiaroli, the owner of the Castello Macchiaroli and this past January, in a decisive meeting, Pietro and Gisella discovered a shared vision that could unfold having the Castello as its home. Since January 2018, a phenomenal amount of work has taken place, allowing in just a short 6 months a launch of this scope (from July 6th to July 16th) and with an extraordinary line up to take place.
We are beginning with literary, architectural, visual art and music residencies, and also offering ten days ripe with workshops, seminars, concerts, and lectures. In our future editions, the residencies will be from two weeks to a month each.
Our inspiring launch calendar:
The American Literary program will have distinguished writers in residence Edmund White and Garnette Cadogan, along with the poet Denver Butson, while the Italian program will feature renowned writer Leonardo Colombati, who will lead a workshop with students through the Molly Bloom creative school for writing, and me.
The Architecture and Engineering program will host a symposium on 3d printing by innovative engineer Enrico Dini, founder of D-Shape and a workshop building a cupola with the use and method of the Nubian compass guided by the internationally celebrated architect Fabrizio Caròla - Studio 2111 and Associates, while Rossella Siani will present her digital design project VAHA - Virtual Architecture Handicraft Art.
American printmaker and painter Karen Revis will have a studio in the castle, alongside a local sculptor, Arturo Ianniello. Pietro Costa will be installing site-specific works in other spaces, and, American street art photographer Grace Morgan’s exhibition of photographs from all over the world, will occupy an entire floor of the Castello. The Sicilian writer and multimedia artist, Andrea Pennisi and Virginia Calderella will present their book in a multi-media project.
BACAS’s in-residency music program this July will be anchored by Marco Cappelli’s Acoustic Trio: Satoshi Takeishi and Ken Filiano in collaboration with the composer Daniele Del Monaco.
And all will be augmented by “Percorsi Storici”, walks through Teggiano led by Prof. Gianluigi De Martino and Prof. Dora Francese, round table discussions on language, visual arts, and the history of the Vallo moderated by distinguished researchers and scholars such as Dr. Rada Innamorato, Prof. Emma Russo Carrara, Prof. Rosanna Alaggio, slow-food tours of the region, jaunts to the coast for talks on Hemingway and Homer, and long, lingering meals and conversations with these impressive figures from the international and local arts world.
Pietro Costa’s dream to “return home” and to share that home with the world has become the key that unlocked others dreams, mine as well and a key that opened the door to bring together an extremely talented group of individuals from the Vallo, from Italy and from abroad, that have brought BACAS this far.
This July, as BACAS launches at the Castello Macchiaroli, the Vallo di Diano and Cilento open their gentle arms to a whole new world of explorers who, while exploring new territories, discover new parts of themselves.
B.A.C.A.S. (borghi antichi cultura arti scienze)
BACAS is a center for culture, arts and science founded in New York City, with its home in a medieval hilltop town in the Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni in Southern Italy -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our mission is to encourage and sustain interdisciplinary collaborations between established, mid-career, and emerging artists and scholars from all over the world, and to broaden the dialogue between America and Italy in the less familiar and often overlooked Southern Italy. We offer short and long-term residencies and fellowships, and curate exhibitions, workshops, and symposia.
Believing that the significant contributions of artists and scholars with distinguished careers can stir the work of those who have yet to be fully recognized for what they do, BACAS aims to ferment artistic and intellectual interactions across stages of careers, genres, and disciplines.
Immersed in our setting, rich with historical significance and natural beauty, BACAS artists and scholars have space and time to work undisturbed, in solitude and/or in collaboration with others, to create lasting works of imagination and ingenuity.
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Application guidelines >>
BACAS accepts applications on a rolling basis and asks artists/scholars to propose a time period that they would like to be in residence in their application. We also send out periodic open-call emails.
Please fill out the form below to join the mailing list for open calls. We will immediately send you the general application form as a PDF (it may vary slightly by open call). All applications must be submitted electronically – no paper applications are accepted. When you submit this application, you must submit the application fee at the same time in order to be considered.
The Macchiaroli Castle >>
The Macchiaroli Castle is located in the ancient city of Teggiano at the center of the Valley of Diano in the province of Salerno. Built in Norman times, it is among the most important sites in Southern Italy. Belonging to the Princes of Sanseverino, the Castle has been the center of important historical events, including the conspiracy of the barons in 1485.
Over the course of centuries the Castle has changed roles, from a medieval, war-torn fortress to a tranquil residence, and ownerships until 1860 when the monumental structure was purchased by the Macchiaroli family.
Today, after the completion of an important restoration including its ancient walkways of war, the majesty of its towers and the removing architectural barriers, the Castle is appointed with elegant and refined furnishings.
Castello Macchiaroli’s atmosphere will make you relive the magic of forgone times, and our hospitality and attention to detail will create unforgettable memories to last a lifetime.
Macchiaroli Castle is easily reachable from the Gulf of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the regions of Cilento and Basilicata