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Presentation: Prof. Nando Marzo
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SEGNI E RI SEGNI : the Growth of an Idea

We have arrived at the third edition of the International Sculpture Symposium "in Pietra Leccese", the second to be held in S. Maria di Leuca.

Given the newness of the concept, it was initially difficult and complicated to propose an international sculpture symposium in Salento, because the majority of those involved, not having a clear idea about the kind of event being discussed, were somewhat perplexed. But finally, enlightened assessors and entrepreneurs who believed in the idea began to get involved.

Now the third edition of the symposium is at hand. Clearly, since we have progressed beyond the first steps, the event is being proposed with clear objectives and goals. We are working today, conscious of the fact that the project is taking root in the territory and becoming part of the collective heritage.

The importance of producing sculptural works, besides their capacity to enhance the environment, is mainly that of qualifying the identity and the quality of life of its inhabitants.

We have shown with these symposia that we are able to realise events which hold their own with similar projects in other places, projects which already enjoy international acclaim. Therefore, we are working with a full awareness of the responsibility we have to interact respectfully with the local culture, and with the intention of proposing a broader vision of the world, currently in a state of great transformation.

The time is ripe to affirm our identity with conviction and pride, all the while respecting and understanding that of others. It is time to show off the product which is the fruit of our labours, to demonstrate our organisational abilities, to highlight the enterprises, people and activities which are able to compete at an international level.

Like any cultured person, the artist who wishes to have a social impact, must have the courage to criticise the negative things which he sees in the world, just as he must, with the same objectivity, note, welcome and make the most of the positive dynamics which make up the complex world. He is in a constant state of dialectical confrontation and through his activity he must gain respect and authority, the better to be at the service of citizens.
Today Europe is opening its doors to ten new countries, and this incites us to propose "MEDITERRANEAN" as the theme of this symposium. Salento, with its geographic position, is no longer a border zone nor the poor extremity of southern Italy. We are in the heart of the Mediterranean and at the centre of Europe; the future holds a fundamental role for us which cannot be that of protecting ourselves with towers or fortresses, but rather must be that of understanding and welcoming new peoples and new cultures.

Growth in the Mediterranean cannot only been seen in terms of an economic strategy which promotes markets, enterprises and products, thereby characterising the territory as an entity capable of providing, as well as consuming new and greater quantities of merchandise. Now, more than ever, the development of these territories necessitates scientific and cultural support.

Typical characteristics, such as rural culture with its small farms, the family unit as a cell of the body which is society, values of reciprocity, understanding and solidarity, cannot dismissed as backward elements.

Europe today places the south of Italy and Salento, thanks to its geographic location in the Mediterranean, at the centre of the principal European thoroughfares. It is our duty to look at local realities with greater sensitivity, taking into account their values and deep roots, and looking for way to combine them with the winds which are blowing through the new Europe.

In this vein we must prepare to interact with open-mindedness and in reciprocal respect with other cultures, religions and new customs, which should not be viewed as threats to our identity but as a potential enrichment in the form of an exchange of mutual advantage. These will be the "Ri-segni" ("new signs") which we must be commit to creating, taking as the starting point those "signs" which our traditions and culture have handed down.

So it is with great motivation, good intentions and conviction of the validity of this event, that we prepare to take on the organisation of this International Sculpture Symposium.

Artistic Director
Lecce, January 2004

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