Care *,

We decided to dedicate these few next Robida’s letters to specific topics instead of always reporting general information about all our projects and how we’re doing! And since winter is for us a time for reflection and definition of new trajectories we thought that dedicating a whole letter to one topic of care would help us in this reflection and maybe would give you a deeper sight about our life/projects/ideas/practices.
The focus of this first letter are Robida’s residencies while in the next months will explore (not necessarily in this order) Izba – Topolove’s collective space which we use as a small cafè, coworking space and laboratory (which is until Spring), the project Village as a House – a dwelling project (which will take place in Spring 2022), Buckwheel – our collective project for the Biennale of Design of Ljubljana, Radio Robida, Robida magazine Island-Otok-Isola etc.

This first newsletter is written by me, Vida, as in the last months I reflected and wrote a lot about what residencies could mean for Robida, for this place and for ourselves personally. Besides that, together with Kim Lang and Francesca Lucchitta, we are also preparing the publication about the symposium Care of Margins where we discussed about an imaginary and concrete, ideal and physical residency in Topolove! The publication, more than being only a description of what we talked about during Care of Margins, is a wider exploration of what Robida’s residency in Topolove would look like, starting from the experiences of permanent inhabitants and temporary dwellers.

The publication will be finished in February – in this letter you will also find some extracts of the texts I wrote for that occasion! This small booklet will also contain words by: Kim Lang, Francesca Lucchitta, Jack Bardwell, Janja Šušnjar, Philipp Kolmann, Curdin Tones, Mara Usai, Laura Savina, Tommaso Garavini, Studio Wild and Lenn Cox. — Quite a nice collection of beautiful people! We are looking forward to sharing their thoughts and words with you!

Another small thing, before starting to go deep in our reflections about residencies, is that we have finally got an email only for residencies (and soon we’ll prepare other emails for other specific things too). If you are interested in knowing more about Robida’s residencies write us on:

* As usual, we start with this word which – pronounced differently – has two beautiful meanings in Italian and English. In Italian it means “dear”, when addressing women.

→ → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → →


While writing about the just finished symposium Care of Margins, me and Kim Lang – who, after a pause from Topolò of one month, was already back in November to remain another month here with us – sitting around our round table started to feel the need to write a glossary of shared terms. This was a way to ground some of the concepts we were finding and hearing around (in books, talks, conferences) and to place them – to connect them to ourselves and to this specific place, of which we were both dwellers, she cyclical and me permanent. The glossary, now saved in a google doc, contained terms such as: academy, psychogeography, doocracy, chtulucene, support structures, boundaries, conviviality etc.
Some of those referred specifically to the sphere of reflections about residency. I would like to share some of them here with you since I think that they disclose quite a lot about our way of intending the residency itself:

INTIMATE NECESSITY → Intimate necessity is a word that I frequently use to refer to the modality of thinking/doing of Robida. I use this term to explain that whatever we do is not driven by a concrete, real, detached-from-us necessity of the place/situation we are immersed in (in our case, the village of Topolò). What we do is not necessarily an answer to the urgent questions the village opens. The adjective “intimate” refers to the personal dimension that we recognize in the needs of a place. It is a way to underline that, with our practice, we cannot bear on our shoulders all the urges that surround us but we chose those that resonate intimately with us. This gives us the possibility of finding our personal meaning for what we do, avoiding the risk of operating just to solve things, without building a personal attachment to these urgencies. (Vida)

INTENSE PROXIMITY → Intense proximity is a term coined by Okwui Enwezor which we use to refer to the relation we strive to stimulate between the temporary dwellers and the site they are immersed into, intending it to be applied not only to a physical environment, but also to a situation, an event, a set of relations among people and other inhabitants of the place.

RADICAL AFFECTION → is a call for tender acts of individual and collective imagination through which new axes of caring, connection, and resilience might be forged. Calling those acts “radical” speaks to their power not only to transform how we live together, but also to a promise of emancipating people from structure and ideologies that have limited their thinking and thwarted agency. → from Slow Spatial Reader – Chronicles of Radical Affection by Carolyn F. Strauss (ed.)

VISITING → Visiting is not an easy practice; it demands the ability to find others actively interesting… to cultivate the wild virtue of curiosity, to retune one/s ability to sense and respond – and to do all this politely! → from Staying with the Trouble – Making Kin in the Chtulucene by Donna Haraway

We also tried to give a definition to the word residency, a word which was questioned a lot during Care of Margins, recognizing that it is loaded with meanings that we do not find interesting for our practice.
At the end we wrote:

RESIDENCY → The term residency, and especially artist residency, is often the carrier of a concept that we do not find appropriate for the type of involvement we wish to generate in our place. We do not see the residency as a place where the artist/researcher/architect/etc. would withdraw; a creative retreat where the person is isolated and self-focused.
We have decided not to try to find another word, but to reclaim the word residency which we find interesting as it is a chronotope (using Mikhail Bakhtin’s word, coined in 1973) – it contains a spatial dimension (meaning the concrete place where the person is hosted) and at the same time a temporal dimension (recalling a defined period of time in which the person is hosted). Other words we have found do not share this quality, some, such as guesthouse, refer much more to a specific space, others, such as sojourn, refer to a period of time. In Topolò Residency is intended as a permeable space that reacts, reflects and cares for what it has around it, and as an expandable time – guests can prolong their stay, return and, through time, start to build a relationship with the place. (Vida)

Meandering through different publications, we once encountered (in Slow Spatial Reader: Chronicles of Radical Affection, edited by Carolyn F. Strauss) this term which we immediately liked a lot and thought it describes perfectly what experience we imagined for the residents coming here to temporarily share this place, our homes and the abandoned landscape with us. This term also gives the title to this letter – Robida’s residency: a place of with-ness.

WITH-NESS → The concept derives from the text “Meteorology of Media” by the media theorist and artist Brett Zehner who proposes that, during extreme meteorological events, people develop a specific embodied intimacy and therefore they become with-nesses rather than witnesses of the event. We borrow this concept from him imagining that temporary dwellers coming to Topolò are not just witnesses, observers, of what surrounds them (working eventually with these observed things/situations/places/faces…) but they are included in the dynamics of the place, in its rhythm, sharing response-abilities and acts of care, being therefore with-nesses. (Vida)

Inhabiting Topolò together, at first only during the summers, later throughout the whole year, revealed many things to us about the place and about ourselves. During winters among bare trees, we discovered the (wo)man-made shape of the landscape marked by terraced walls, but at the same time, we discovered isolation and the importance of shared everyday life among our small group. Since 2019 – but probably already from before without defining it – we have invited, out of an intimate necessity artists/researchers/architects/etc. to share their everyday life with us, to let them see and reflect upon this particular place, to inhabit with us the empty village and its landscape, to imagine new routines and practices.
Until today Robida hosted officially (as invited residents) and unofficially (as people who passed by and stopped for a longer than planned): Katarina Gomboc Čeh, Urška Alič, Roberto Semeraro, Jesse van der Ploeg, Tymon Hogenelst, Marta Olivieri, Vera Borghini, Loredana Canditone, Laura Savina, Kim Lang, Ola Korbańska, Francesca Lucchitta, Elena Braida, Pola Salicka, Marcin Liminowicz, Niklas Fisher, Selina Beghetto, Dan Eppstein, Jack Bardwell, Lijuan Klassen + many many other guests!
It is so beautiful to realize how our life is shaped so strongly by all these co-dwellers and probably this strong influence is explained by the fact that usually, during winters, we live a quite solitary life. The time of the residency therefore is not only (hopefully) enriching for residents who come here but also for us who share with them a life here!

→ → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → →

Since this letter was said to give also concrete information to those who were caressed by the idea of coming to Topolove to live a period with us, we can make a list of things we believe are important:

a residency for us is not an island, autonomous from its surroundings, not a room with a view toward landscape, but a permeable space that reacts, reflects, and cares for what it has around it.

once I wrote: “There are many small tasks in Topolò, especially during summer. Tasks that are not big works but maybe humble gestures to remember to landscape and to yourself that you are there and that landscape and the village need you also just in these subtle tasks. That it is not necessary to do enormous, almost heroic works to contribute to landscape’s care. You can weed the numerous stone paths in the village, you can clean the path which goes to the old mill, just taking away the dry leaves (and maybe put them in your garden) and re-discovering stones that pave the path. You can liberate a (fallen) tree from the lianas around it. You can open a path leading to nothing among the robida which covers a terrace: it will maybe be useful for someone else, for an unexpected reason. You can clean with a little broom (I see it almost as an archeological work) the stones of that path from which you took leaves away. These are not useful works for yourself – such as preparing sticks for the winter fire or digging the ground of your garden – maybe even not particularly positive for the landscape itself but just a memento of your presence right there, a caress to the environment that surrounds you every day. –– What type of minimal gesture could represent transformation?”

you can invite yourself (Ola Korbańska, a super good friend now – Hey, Ola, ciao stary! – proposed herself and it was one of the best proposals ever. This last December she also proposed to a leak, but this is another story!) or you can be invited (Kim Lang, a cyclical inhabitant of this place, was invited by Robida and then, a simple invitation to an artist residency transformed to a life changing experience. Kim now is almost a permanent inhabitant!), both is possible!

we are not specifically interested in any specific practice, or, better, no one is a priori excluded! We do not require that the work or research someone carries on (and proposes) has a specific pertinence to this context! It is the attitude that counts :)

we do not expect “project proposals” but we do like a kind of letter which explains the reasons for one's desire to come here! Kim said that to her it was quite important to know which were the topics we were working on or reflecting about and when we told her that the topic was the forest, she wrote a beautiful text about the border between what is forest and what is not and the whole time she was here (during her month of residency) she cyclically came back to that initial topic. If you like, we can discuss some topics of our interest!

we like longer residencies: one month is a good time! Preferably not during summer (which is already always too crowded!)

I will stop here! My trustworthy proofreader went already to bed so half of this newsletter probably has many mistakes! If you are wondering if I finished writing it 5 min before sending it, oh yes, it went exactly like this!

Again: for any question write here → → →
Check also these two interviews we made at the end of the residencies of Kim and Ola

Ciao ciao, good night!
Thank you for reading us and supporting us always!
Robida Fam

→ → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → → →

Check the news related to Robida on our IG page (updated often) of FB (updated less often)!
If you want, you can dive in our archives going on our Mixcloud (where you can find Radio Robida's archive) or on these two old but updated tumblr: r-o-b-i-d-a and ancheirovisonogiardini.

If you received this letter, it means that you subscribed or that someone among us thought about you and added you in! In any case, if we were booooring, you can unsubscribe!

Hugs hugs hugs
Robida Fam