Interview with Pretziada
Ivano Atzori and Kyre Chenven are a couple as well as two creatives with a background in set design, creative direction and visual art. In January 2015 they moved to Santadi, Sardinia, to start Pretziada, a interdisciplinary project about the Island and its treasures.
We got lucky – Ivano’s family is from here. We both come from beautiful places and each time we would take a vacation we would go home, either to California or Sardinia. We have moved plenty of times (from New York to Milan to New York to Milan to Tuscany, for example) and have always gone back and forth about moving to one of our homelands. Sardinia won for lots of different reasons, but mainly because there is a strong, rich history paired with a current paralysis. There are myriad reasons to fall in love with the traditions, and few people that are exalting them.
We never felt ready, however, until this year. Sardinia is an island, surrounded by water on every side, isolated from the rest of Europe. We were afraid of feeling trapped, as if our little family would be alone in its weirdness, using smoke signals to communicate with our friends on the mainland.
But luckily Sardinia is not a simple island – I (Ivano) always loved that and Kyre did too. For that same reason, we didn’t come here with the vision of getting a regular old job; we knew we needed to create something. Pretziada was born of our necessity and we feel lucky that our choices pushed us to that point. We always thought about doing something that can help create a reality we want to live in and here, in Sardinia, either we were going to do it, or we were going to perish. We did not start with a restrictive vision for Pretziada and we still do not have one. We travel, we talk, we meet with strangers, we drive around on back roads and if we see something that fascinates us, we investigate.
We may need an entire day to explain how Sardinia is different from Italy and yet it will not be enough. Sardinia is about 10 hours by boat from the coast of Italy, 10 hours of deep silence. Sardinia is distant in every sense. Distance, however, is what made it possible for the Island to maintain these amazing differences in lots of fields – plant and animal life, culture, gastronomy, general mindset…
All we can say is that this island seems to exist outside of time. It is a Western culture infused with the East. It is a Christian culture with remnants of Middle-Eastern religions and Paganism. Wealth and poverty live side by side; pride and shame live side by side; mediocrity and excellence walk hand in hand. All of that said, living here, and adding a third culture to our constant diatribe (Italy vs USA), has made the two of us aware that every place has its own normal – the distinctions mean ever less.
To create reaction, energy, attention, friction. To transmit our vision and possibly share it with whoever is interested. To call attention to the excellences of this island, to honor its history and, hopefully, to make it a place that young and talented people don’t need to flee from. Unfortunately right now the majority of people either leave for university or right after getting their degrees. Not many come back. Everyone here knows the story of someone that wants to come back home but feels like there is no work/opportunity. We’re big fans of leaving home to see what the world has to offer, but we’d like Sardinia to be a place where that’s an option, not a necessity.
Tradition is such an important word – we notice that sometimes it goes against out own first instinct. We’re always thinking about how to make something better, how to make it evolve. And tradition is the voice that says – no, wait, that’s not the way my father did it, that’s not the way my mother did it, that’s not the way it’s done. In that sense tradition can make us stop and reflect. It can save us.
Tradition can also turn into the worst enemy if interpreted in the wrong way.
Sardinia needs to change to survive, but the kind of change that is being proposed by the Italian government is a death sentence. The Island needs to fight to preserve what hasn’t yet been destroyed and capitalize on promoting what it already has to offer.
Industrialization is not the solution. Militarization is not the answer. Easy factory jobs that bring pollution and destruction in exchange for an easy paycheck are not the answer.
Gastronomy, craftsmanship, and tourism should be fields where we can create jobs opportunities. Ironically, in order to create the future Sardinia that we hope for, we need to go back in time and preserve, preserve, preserve. And even more ironically, that takes innovation. We wake up every morning, close our eyes in prayer and repeat Gramsci’s edict to the Island – “educate yourselves, for we will need all of your intelligence.”
Like every place on earth you have pros&cons. We personally concentrate constantly on finding balance and expressing appreciation. We love complex things like silence; good food for a reasonable cost; living close to the beach and the forest; visiting the city, being inspired and then leaving; working within a human rhythm; seeing one new thing and one old thing every day.
We’re always looking forward. Our curiosity needs to be fed and the future can be a infinite meal.
These days we are working on creating the new Pretziada website which will include also an e-commerce shop. The show will propose diverse items, from ceramics to handmade shoes to textiles. The connection between all these products will be that they are each the result of a dialogue between Sardinian artisans and international designers or creative minds in general.
Also, believe it or not, we just bought a property that counts four little Sardinian houses from 1800’s. It’s in a peaceful valley in the Southwest of Sardinia. We are working together with an excellent team of architects, Francesca Rango and Mario Casciu, who are helping us translate our vision into space and lights. The property will give us a headquarters and the opportunity to host all different sorts of people – artists, poets, farmers, designers, plumbers, mothers, kids, activists, readers, writers, shepherds, travelers, carpenters. It will be a way to share our Sardinia with everyone we can. We’ll collect special people in our special place; it helps us feel special too.