Mark DionUSAVisual Arts1996



I arrived at Civitella Ranieri with a rigid determination to relax. There were two concrete goals to my stay: first, to conquer the small but imposing mountain of books I had brought along, and the second goal was to see a great many birds, in particular one bird, the hoopoe (Upupa epops). Above all, I needed a place to rejuvenate after a year of a far too hectic exhibition schedule. Seeing the hoopoe proved to be no great challenge, since the cherry trees were ripe with both fruit and flies, but I never managed to whittle down that mountain of books beyond a very majestic hill.


The place seduced me. The green fields and forest covered hills sidetracked me from my duties of relaxing. I became interested in the strange history of the place. The impression of the simultaneity of deep social history which one feels in a place like Umbria has always fascinated me. During my afternoon bird watching tours, I began to find myself looking down rather than up. Below my feet lay an astonishing range of artifacts: bones, china shards, bits of hardware, fancy glass bottles. Each day I would scan the eroding hillside behind the castle to see what fragments of history would be revealed by the day’s weather. Here one could discover a turn of the century enamel bowl next to a 17th century pottery shard, which had fallen on top of last weeks coke bottle top. It was an avalanche of time.