Island of San Giacomo, Venice

The island of San Giacomo will become a new venue of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, joining their spaces in Guarene and Turin. In the next two years, it will be sensitively developed as a space to produce artistic projects, and to host research and discussions on art, music, cinema, theatre and contemporary culture.
Surrounded by the Venice lagoon’s delicate ecosystem, the island will be a laboratory for ecological reflection, where the principles of sustainability and energy transition will be implemented. The existing buildings – the three powder magazines of the Napoleonic-era military garrison, built in 1810 after the demolition of the ancient monastery of San Giacomo Maggiore – will be restored, and new trees will be planted around the buildings, unused since the 1960s, to restore the island to its natural landscape.
The inaugural event for this first phase of the project is a performance inspired by the recent history of San Giacomo. In September 1975, at the Venice Theatre Biennale, director Jerzy Grotowski staged ‘Apocalypsis cum figuris’ on the island. In the darkness, broken only by candlelight, the Apocalypse seemed like a dream. Inspired by the stories of that courageous and free theatre, the activities on the island will begin with a performance.

On 21 April 2022, on the occasion of the opening of the 59th Esposizione Internazionale d’arte – Biennale di Venezia, the performance ‘In the tired watering’ by Jota Mombaça, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, will confront the dynamic qualities of water, the anxieties linked to the climate and environmental crisis, and the awareness of the imminence of a possible planetary catastrophe.
In the next few days, restoration work will begin on the island of San Giacomo, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
The ‘construction site’ will be an opportunity to let the restoration work and the artistic project designed specifically for this place proceed in parallel. Over the next few years the artists Giovanna Silva and Antonio Fortugno will be working on a photographic campaign designed to document the entire journey of the project from different perspectives, moving between the microscopic and the panoramic. The landscape architect Antonio Perazzi has been entrusted with the design of the green areas and the creation of a small forest that will be dedicated to Grotowski. Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo said: “I like to think that, through the centuries, the different lives and functions of this small island have been preserved in the soil and can now come back to the surface as a source of inspiration. I would like San Giacomo to become a point of crossroads, of encounters and exchanges, becoming once again, as in the distant past, a route between the waters and canals of the lagoon north of Venice, which in turn is connected with the world. Our ‘isolation’ in this short strip of land is a transitive action, a choice open to the mobility of water, to journeys, departures and landings”