Curated by

South Tyrol is located in the north of Italy, bordering Austria and Switzerland and has always been a rural region. Aside from the few cities, which had been established commercial centers for centuries, the largest part of the population worked in the farming sector till the mid 1900s. Nowadays the peasant population has become a smaller part of society. For the mountainous territory, with the farm houses being hard to reach and often very far one from the other, old traditions and customs are well-preserved and are still being lived. But the origins are also being cultivated and looked after in the easier accessible parts of the country. e people are proud to show their tradition, eventhough in many cases the derivation is not known.
For the exhibition “translating tradition”, taking place in May 2008 at Lungomare Gallery, traditions from very di erent areas of life have been selected. Some can be matched to a certain valley, others could be found in the whole region, some even in the entire area of the Alps.
The selection was made according to the aspect of communication, each tradition was and still is nowadays a tool to communicate a message. e chosen customs and traditions all mirror matters, which were essential in the past.
They were connected to seeking a job, or to the work on a farm and the resulting relationships. But also private matters such as family status, single or married, and the relationship of the social classes, or the rules between the farmer, the farmer’s wife, the farm hand and the maidservant.

Research folder: translating tradition (in German)


Denise Bonapace

In the area of Merano and the Sarentino Valley the traditional hat is not only a headpiece, but also a communication tool. It symbolizes a man’s family status, whether he is single or married. The headpiece designed by Denise Bonapace uses the communicating side of the hat in a more generalized way. The hat frees thoughts and words, which are caught in the head and visualizes them. The thoughts are told in words by the hat.

__fabrics interseason

__fabrics interseason started from the last remains of the traditional costumes the South Tyrolean man wears: the blue apron. Still today many men wear the apron proudly. It is normal to use the apron not only as protection of clothes, but also to pick apples, as basket for seeding or and the top part for storing the paperwork when going to offcial departments and authorities. This conversion was the conceptual base of transformation of the blue apron by __fabrics interseason.

Max Lamb

In the life of farm hands and maidservants personal property was little. But no matter how poor, a spoon was always part of the personal belongings. Max Lamb transported the thought of individual cutlery to material and form and has developed a series of spoons for this exhibition. As in former times, no spoon resembles the other and becomes this way an individual object of utility.

Luisa Lorenza Corna

Folding meanings – the messages communicated through gestures using fans, which allowed women in the 19th century to communicate with men secretly without words, were interpreted by Luisa Lorenza Corna creating an apparent meaningless graphic print that reveals messages once folded. A stratification of different phrases lies on the same surface, as the same fan was used to launch a variegate spectrum of signals. The way we use, modify and ‘distort’ objects reveals, intentionally or not, are fragments of speech and wishes.

Julia Lohmann & Gero Grundmann

After the birth of a child, the fear of misfortune, witches and daemons was strong. The newborn baby could not immediately be baptized and was therefore vulnerable, unprotected and defenceless against evil spirits. As protection for mother and baby, female relatives brought white food, such as bread, eggs, sugar, salt, milk or bakery to the house of the young mother. The squirrel by Julia Lohmann and Gero Grundmann carries encoded messages for the baby, combining protection and wishes from family and friends.

Sophie Krier

In different traditional costumes, the farmer’s wife wears as signs of her status a key, knife or a tool for repairing leather from her belt.These objects serve to de ne her role as the mistress of the farm. The research project began with an interview with women, seeking their personal views on the ‘keys’ they retain and the human values that need ‘repair’ today. A selection of their answers were then translated into different interpretations that aim to capture and manifest the underlying relationship between these women of today, the meaning of power, and the need for dialogue.

Printed matter
More materials

Sound piece by Stefano Bernardi on the theme “Ins Weißet gian”

With the support of

Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano-South Tyrol, Culture Departments
Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano-South Tyrol, Ripartizione Artigianato Industria e Commercio
Heinrich Gasser
Parkhotel Laurin