Learning from SPARROWS

Social Permaculture As a Resource for Regenerative Open and Welcoming Societies was co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the EU, the venue was Ecovillage Torri Superiore in Italy and it was attended by 27 youth workers from 11 countries supported by 5 professionals in the field of Social Permaculture including Massimo Candela, Marguerite Kahrl, Dražen Šimleša, Lucilla Borio, and Silvia Corna.

Permaculture is a design discipline aimed at achieving sustainable human settlements, a meta-discipline, which in addition to some original insights, uses and systematizes already existing disciplines, such as geography, biology, architecture, and agronomy, creating virtuous relationships between them.  The ultimate aim is to responsibly meet the material needs of a community or individual (such as land management, food production, housing, waste management, and creating economies), starting from the observation of natural processes, with a focus on the relationship between individuals, groups, peoples, nations.

The course focused on the concept of the margin: the membrane of the cell, the bank of a river, the boundary between city and country, between migrants and the local population, between disability and ‘normality’, or the border between states. It included a combination of lectures, workshops, and participatory work methods, and using permaculture knowledge, ethics, and the basics of design. Participants learned about their resilience, empowerment, position within the group, the relationships we nurture with other people, understanding and resolving conflicts, activism in the local community and on a global level, and acting in crisis situations.

The course was a transformative learning experience for many participants, that used participatory methods to explore the topics and observe their reflection on their groups.

One day was dedicated to sharing and raising awareness of migratory flows, which began with an action of cleaning a stretch of the Roia riverbed in Ventimiglia marked by the passage of migrants, followed by a meeting to reflect on how social structures and natural forces influence human behavior, and what changes can be made to achieve lasting change. During the course, two filmmakers recorded materials for a documentary film that will be presented in the spring.


#learningfromsparrows #permaculture #erasmusplus #climateaction #sustainablefuture #transformativechange @ecovillagedepourgues @youthid.tour @giovani_iddocca @ecoversities @hortafcul @szalmaepitok @zmag.recikliranoimanje @permakultura.si @labolina_rpg @sporosregeneration @zeleno_doba @marguerite_kahrl

Presentation of Tell_US catalog

Wednesday 2nd February, at 18:00, Circolo dei Lettori di #torino @circolettori.

Presentation of the Tell_US, catalog curated by @francesca__simondi with graphic project by Marilia Nogueira and edited by @boite_editions.

The rich documentation, including texts, images, and graphics, tells and gives new shape to the homonymous project, designed to promote sustainable tourism and enhance the culture of artistic ceramics and craftsmanship at Ecovillaggio Torri Superiore, an ancient medieval village in the Ligurian hinterland, a few kilometers from Ventimiglia.
The project is characterized by a transdisciplinary approach, thanks to craftsmanship, architecture, culture, contemporary art, and social dialogue, within a four-phase program.
The catalog is a synthesis of four distinct and complementary moments. The redevelopment and renovation of the ceramic workshop, the promotion of sustainable tourism including site-specific artworks, a rich PUBLIC PROGRAM curated by the artist @cosimo_veneziano, and a workshop focused on the practical return of what was learned.

@marguerite_kahrl and @marullo.emanuele were selected from the applicants who applied for the open call. In the spring of 2021, they worked directly on the Ligurian territory, vis-à-vis the local community. Curious to know them better?



Marguerite Kahrl, Little Malthusian Invasions
curated by Ilaria Bonacossa and Marco Scotini with Anna Lovecchio
Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, in collaboration with PAV – Parco Arte Vivente, Torino

Villa Croce presents Little Malthusian Invasions, a solo show of Marguerite Kahrl that features two bodies of work by the American artist: the ongoing Noble Savages series of drawings, sculptures and videos in addition to a selection of relational objects from Con MOI, a collaborative project developed in the area of the former Olympic village in Turin. For the opening day a performance On nature of matter will take place during which the artist will be constructing a sculpture accompanied by the sound ‘objects’ created by the composer Giuseppe Gavazza.

Marked by a longtime commitment to political activism, the artistic research of Marguerite Kahrl is deeply influenced by the principles of permaculture, a philosophy of land use and design, conceived in the 1970s, which proposes sustainable models of growth based on resilience, complexity, and the self-regulating balance found in natural ecosystems. The ethics of close observation of nature and earth care are embraced by the artist as a radical alternative to the dominant mechanisms of exploitation and consumption that cause waste, excess, and destruction in the contemporary world.

Marguerite Kahrl, ‘NS49B’, (2014), 60 x 46 x 32 cm
Hemp, linen, batting, thread, wood and stuffing.
Marguerite Kahrl, ‘Malthusian Matter, the ecology of little invasions’, NS31b, (2015)
1’30” directed by: Marguerite Kahrl, music by: Giuseppe Gavazza, video: Marco Mion titles: Seungjun Jeong

The subjects of her video series entitled ‘Malthusian Matter, the ecology of little invasions’ are Kahrl’s Noble Savages, soft busts representing grotesque characters, halfway between tender and monstrous, whose iconography is derived from Los Caprichos by Francisco Goya, the renowned series of etchings published in 1799 as a critique to the decline of reason and the widespread corruption at the end of the Enlightenment. The title makes reference to the expression originally coined by the English poet John Dryden (1631-1700) and made famous by J.J. Rousseau (1712-1778) who idealized the “noble savage” in the state of nature as an innately pure and good human being, uncontaminated by civilization.

Except for the recent bronze casts, Kahrl’s sculptures are made with hemp, linen, and cotton, natural elements that are connected to the history and the environment of the Cavanese area where the artist has been living since 2002. The hemp plant has played a major role in the economic development of the region where it has been cultivated to provide textiles, paper, oil, building materials, and animal feed. The distinctive expressive qualities of the hemp fabrics, raw but also soft to the touch and durable, confer an aura of domesticity and resilience to the hand-sewn puppets, playful hybrid creatures placed on slender pedestals that, as Lucy Lippard observes, “illuminate the eternal contradictions of the human condition.”

The exhibition also includes videos, a timeline and relational objects realized within the Con MOI project, an informal group of migrants and Italian citizens engaged with a range of practices, from sharing time and food to activating forms of reciprocal attention, aimed at forging a supportive community. The group is named after the MOI, the former Mercato Ortofrutticolo all’Ingrosso (wholesale fruit and vegetable market), where the prefabricated structures built for the 2006 Winter Olympics are presently occupied by over a thousand refugees from different geographical origins. Thanks to Kahrl and other participants, the Con MOI group addresses the criticalities of such a context by setting in motion relational strategies that promote food-sharing as well as the transformation from the redistribution of material and cultural resources.

Members of Con MOI create self-portraits by transforming donated fabric into hand-sewn sculptures – Mini MOI. 

Artist’s Residence | Sustainable Tourism | Enhancement of Artistic and Artisanal Ceramics

2021 Artist Residence, Torri Superiore

TELL_US is pleased to announce the names of the two artists selected by the jury for the residency at the Ecovillage Torri Superiore, in Liguria!


We would like to thank the 40 artists who participated in the first edition of the TELL_US call.


TELL_US  (in italiano RACCONTA_CI; TELLUS/TELLURIS dal latino TERRA) è tra i 37 progetti selezionati dalla Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo per il bando Luoghi della Cultura 2020.

Un’iniziativa inedita ideata e promossa dall’Associazione Culturale Messy Lab, Collettivo di Ceramica in collaborazione con l’Associazione Culturale Torri Superiore grazie al contributo della Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, maggior sostenitore del progetto.

Il progetto è volto a valorizzare il patrimonio architettonico dell’Ecovillaggio Torri Superiore, antico borgo medievale dell’entroterra ligure situato a pochi chilometri da Ventimiglia, attraverso la riqualificazione del laboratorio di ceramica e la programmazione di residenze per artisti-ceramisti che durante la loro permanenza in ecovillaggio realizzeranno opere e installazioni permanenti, lavorando direttamente sul territorio con il fine di valorizzarne le risorse intrinseche ed instaurare un dialogo diretto tra la cultura della ceramica, la storia e gli elementi architettonici del borgo medievale.

Parte integrante del progetto è incentivare l’economia locale promuovendo un turismo culturale ed eco-sostenibile attraverso la programmazione di corsi intensivi di ceramica abbinati al soggiorno in ecovillaggio, progettati e tenuti dagli artisti ceramisti selezionati per la residenza.

TELL_US prevede anche la programmazione di un public program curato dall’artista Cosimo Veneziano: curatori, direttori di musei e docenti universitari indagheranno il sottile confine tra arte e artigianato a partire dalle riflessioni del sociologo Richard Sennett contenute nel suo saggio “L’uomo artigiano”. Le riflessioni raccolte durante il ciclo di conferenze verranno successivamente pubblicate in un catalog.