For more than 20 years, Giovanni Cervi worked in the European art world as a Parma-based independent curator. There came a time in his life and career when he reached a crossroads and he could decide either to grow or to change direction. He opted for the latter and headed down a new path with his dog, a 15-year-old hound that he adopted after it was abandoned by hunters.
Yes, for years my love for art and passion for artistic expression were intertwined in my life. Back in my little home city, I found myself writing for renowned international magazines and taking charge of important events, especially in Germany.
I decided to pack up my wealth of experience and head to the mountains. I still do not know what it was that instinctively drove me towards places and dynamics that I knew absolutely nothing about. Perhaps it was the urge to forge an unblemished environment where artists could give free rein to their creativity without being influenced in any way by critics. My partner at the time and I moved into a former roadman’s house in the Andrella Valley, which is where it all began.
We started by studying the local area, natural environment and history. We met people and attracted artists to this new place of ours. At the same time, we started a farming business called Valico Terminus and took our first steps in vegetable growing and beekeeping. A number of years later, my farm has now finally taken on its own distinctive identity. The emphasis is on mustard and picking wild herbs, berries, drupes and everything that the land has to offer and I can put to use.
I would like to point out that “Valico” means “transition” (in the physical sense of going from one place to another) and “Terminus” is a concept that I have borrowed from Isaac Asimov to refer to a cultural centre at the edge of a galaxy made up of woods and beech groves. From here, the beauty of art can influence the surrounding areas, which in turn can influence adjacent zones.
Everything is constantly moving and I lead the way on that front. I am a wanderer and everything is transitory and evolving in my eyes: I learn things, put them into practice and continue to evolve. All of these steps are necessary on our personal journey. I have never felt a particularly close bond to a place or an area, but I feel a unique sort of energy and a very strong connection in the beech groves, especially in the autumn. I feel very peaceful in those places at that time and I see parallels with modern society, which stands on such an entangled, pained, twisted and doubled-up base, with touching and interwoven roots. The trees push upwards and reach dizzying heights but are strongly rooted to the ground. They are contorted by the wind but inexorably stretch towards the light and the sky. Once they are mature, they even get nourishment through their bark, absorbing all of the goodness around them.
In my opinion, the human mind, brain and body have not evolved at the same rate. The body has evolved more than the mind, which is incapable of making the most of its potential. We will continue to suffer until balance is reached between the two. We should all evolve like beech woods.
This is what I read and I see. A tendency to move upwards, and the trials and tribulations of life down below. If we listened to ourselves more in life and followed the rhythm of nature, we would all remain linked, connected and human. I see people who are disconnected from themselves. Everything could actually be much simpler.
Although the input would vary, I am sure that we could come up with surprising solutions if we all lent a hand. Our human nature instinctively helps us and solves problems in ways that we could never even imagine. If we were capable of listening more, it would probably enhance both our lives and our understanding.
In my own little way, I am trying to build a network of people who see nature as home and part of our world, rather than something to be exploited.
At the same time, I tend to keep myself to myself because we are still human beings at the end of the day, with our good and bad sides. We reach upwards and our hardships drag us down.
Ten years from now, I picture myself by the sea, picking wild herbs on an island and putting them to use.