7th December 2015 to 6th January 2016
“It’s with great satisfaction and pleasure that we present to New York the Nativity Scene (the traditional Italian “Presepe”) created by the worldwide known artist Franco Artese. The first Italian artisan/artist to have the privilege of presenting a Presepe in St. Peter’s Square, Rome in 2012, during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, as an expression of artistic excellence both of religious and Italian cultural tradition. We present this work of art as a tribute not only to the Italian-American community” – says the President of the Basilicata Region Mr. Marcello Pittella – “but also to all immigrants and the entire US community. The Basilicata Region (Southern Italy) and its Tourism Board (APT) are deeply grateful to the Archdiocese of New York for the warm welcome to this project and thank the Italian Consulate, ENIT and the Italian Cultural Institute of New York for their precious cooperation”.
The creation of this “Presepe” will be exposed from the 8th December 2015 to 6th January 2016. It draws inspiration from the cultural landscape of Basilicata, especially from the uniqueness of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site and European Capital of Culture 2019.
The Nativity Scene by Franco Artese – says Gianpiero Perri, general manager of Basilicata Tourism Board – is an extraordinary means to promote the image of the region Basilicata, its typical handicraft and especially its religious traditions, deep solidarity and hospitality – universal values that characterize our region’s culture.
Those values are emphasized in the Nativity Scene set up in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, by representing in the Presepe a family of emigrants, as a tribute to the American and especially the Italian-American communities, which also include many people from Basilicata, and to all emigrants who have contributed to the greatness of the United States. A meaningful symbol – says Perri – in a period that is deeply marked by migration, which is affecting both Italy and Europe. The mystery of Christmas, set within the magical landscape of the Sassi of Matera, gives the opportunity, once again, to draw people’s attention to the uniqueness of Matera’s cultural landscape and its designation as the European Capital of Culture 2019. This is a unique opportunity – says the general manager – to present a strong and well-characterized image of the “authentic” Basilicata region to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are expected to participate in Christmas celebration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The setting recalls the ancient Lucanian (from Lucania, the ancient name of Basilicata) rural civilization, “the civilization of the hands”, based on work in the fields and age-old trades of the frugal and laborious population imbued with a spirit of sacrifice and a deep sense of religion. It is the picture of a world based on essential values such as family, work and solidarity, with a view of the life that is open to Mystery.
The artwork is made entirely in polystyrene covered by a layer of resin stucco resembling tufo (volcanic tuff) with elements of metal, wood and terracotta, occupying an area of about 20 m² and reaching a height of 4 m. There are approximately 70 different characters, each one 27 cm tall, made entirely in terracotta by Maestro Vincenzo Velardita and dressed by the sisters Nadia and Daniela Balestrieri and Teresa Galasso in starched clothes reproducing the typical costumes of Lucanian tradition – all under the direct supervision of Maestro Artese.
In this Presepe, the presence of an emigrants’ family is particularly important as it brings to mind the many Italians who decided to emigrate to the United States in the last century. It also symbolizes the suffering of living abroad, far from the motherland, and the hopes and dreams of many men and women worldwide who are forced to leave their native countries.
Visitors to the Nativity Scene in St.Patrick’s can download and listen to the audio guide both in Italian and English directly from APT website or through a Qrcode.
Basilicata Tourism Board
85100 POTENZA – ITALY
Tel. +39 (0) 971 507680
Fax: +39 (0) 971 507600