Ecologies of the Imaginary. Venice, the Lagoon and the Fantasy

Ecologies of the Imaginary

to Journal

on 24.01.24

Last year’s collaboration with Valentina Sturli and Prof. Alessandro Metlica of the Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies (DISLL) at the University of Padua have been collected in a volume "Ecologies of the Imaginary. Venice, the Lagoon and the Fantastic ", already available online and coming out soon in bookshops. A creative writing workshop for undergraduates included multiple sessions, presentations from experts, and an excursion to the island of Sant'Erasmo.

We are here Venice chose to bring the group to Sant'Erasmo based on its historical and landscape-related features,the vegetable growing tradition, its characteristics as a border area between the sea and the lagoon, and the fact that it is outside of tourist routes.

Participants were invited to listen, to explore a seemingly marginal place, and hence a temporal and spatial dimension that is different from everyday and familiar experiences, with an immensely precious potential for fantasy.

Students during the excursion to Sant'Erasmo. Photo Eleonora Sovrani.

During the exploration, which began in the fog of late November 2022, students were introduced to some locals, listened to their stories, made their own discoveries, and observed the lagoon landscape from an unusual perspective. The island had a profound impact on them, judging by the numerous traces of Sant’Erasmo that can be found in the stories collected in this volume.

The students wove their plots back-and-forth between an analysis of the present and projections into the future. The stories originated in considerations of possible futures, trying to provide substance for the many hopes and anxieties concerning the future of our planet, which today, we feel, is threatened more than ever.

Observing and documenting plants found during the excursion. Photo Eleonora Sovrani.

The proposal of starting from the lagoon to develop fantastic stories is in line with Vital's mission to return the lagoon to the centre of reflections on the future of Venice since the survival of the city depends on the survival of the lagoon and vice versa. This is threatened due to the continuous loss of sediments aggravated by rising sea levels attributable to global warming, and exacerbated by water traffic and the possibility of additional dredging for port activities. To preserve Venice as a living city, it is therefore necessary to address these factors that are affecting its ecosystem.

By focusing on the margins, that are mostly invisible and sometimes submerged in the collective consciousness of its inhabitants and visitors, the issues to be addressed can be seen more clearly.

The Creative Writing Workshop Ecologies of the Imaginary was set up as part of the activities promoted by the PON Research and Innovation project.