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CAROLINA GARCIA MARQUES AND PAULO BALARDIM
The Vale Alvoredo Artist Residency is an artistic and cultural oasis founded by Carolina Garcia Marques and Paulo Balardim.
Carolina Garcia Marques, a puppeteer-actress, somatic educator, and theater director, brings a rich and multidisciplinary experience to Vale Alvoredo. She holds a degree in Performing Arts, specializes in Cultural Economy, and is certified in the Feldenkrais Method. Her passion for art and education is reflected in her commitment to leading Vale Alvoredo and promoting art in rural areas of Brazil.
Paulo Balardim, an Associate Professor in the field of Theatrical Practice, brings a profound understanding of Puppet Theater and extensive experience in the performing arts. With a distinguished academic background and a prolific career as a director, actor, and scenographer, he contributes to Vale Alvoredo with his artistic vision and commitment to connecting art with the community and nature.
Vale Alvoredo is more than just a physical place; it's a nexus of creativity and nature where artists and thinkers find fertile ground for exploration and creation. This artist residency center offers multidisciplinary programs, private studios, and communal outdoor spaces, fostering a deep connection with the surrounding natural environment and facilitating an ongoing dialogue between art, culture, and sustainability.
On October 20th, 2010, we brought the VALE ARVOREDO Artistic Residency Space to life, inspired by the vision of creating a place where creators and professionals from various artistic disciplines could share a full-time experience.
This experience unfolds through seasonal courses, aimed at promoting human and artistic development, deepening the relationships between individuals and with the surrounding environment.
Discovering this vast fourteen-hectare area immersed in nature was a genuine surprise.
It houses a small portion of pristine native forest, while another part is undergoing recovery, with a total area spanning ten hectares.
This land includes a bathing center and a 120-meter-high waterfall, in addition to a stream that connects with the Feitoria River, part of the Guaíba River's basin, the largest in the Rio Grande do Sul region.
Moreover, this area is situated in the Serra Gaúcha, a cultural and tourist destination in southern Brazil, known as the "Romantic Route" and encompassing cities like Gramado and Canela, famous for their film and theater festivals.
Vale Arvoredo should be seen as an initiative that fits within an extremely isolated rural community.
This region was colonized by German immigrants in the early 19th century, who mainly settled here to engage in agriculture.
Even today, some families continue to live off family farming and speak the Hunsrückisch dialect.
Promoting cultural activities allows us to integrate into the lifestyle of these families, actively participating in the social life of the community and opening ourselves up to a broad range of perspectives and worldviews.
This interaction represents an extraordinary learning experience.
Even though we don't share the same agricultural activity, we can contribute to the local economy through the promotion of art and education.
I believe it's precisely in this context that everything can function perfectly: when we are able to offer something different and, at the same time, learn from those around us.
Understanding their worldview and realizing that there is always something to learn from everyone around us gives us a profound sense of belonging.
Vale Alvoredo Artistic Residency
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN NATURE AND THE ARTISTIC EXPERIENCES ORGANIZED AT VALE ARVOREDO ARTISTIC RESIDENCY?
The connection with nature constitutes a fundamental element at the core of Vale Arvoredo's creation.
The idea was to live in a place where integration with the ecosystem, seen as a part of a complex system within the biosphere, in a state of balance, could influence human and artistic thinking.
Therefore, the space offers immersive experiences where art and the environment merge into a single experience.
We have always considered the space in relation to its biodiversity, seeking to integrate practices and theories with the concept of complete coexistence.
We have dedicated ourselves to promoting a sustainable environment, managing a small biodynamic garden in collaboration with local artists and farmers, and generating sustainable electrical energy through a hydropower generator in partnership with the "Energia Ecosocial" company.
In the field of artistic activities, since 2010, we have established a series of courses and exchanges with national and international theater companies, including Cia. Pequod (Brazil), Cie. Animatière (France), Cie. Ocus (France), Cia. De Pernas Pro Ar (Brazil), Cia. Entrelinhas (Brazil), Cia. Teatro Lumbra (Brazil), Cia. Máscara em Cena (Brazil), and many others.
The Artistic Residency Space Vale Arvoredo, over the course of 13 years, has organized more than 30 intensive training courses specifically in the field of puppetry, masks, and shadow theater.
These courses, dedicated to puppets, masks, and shadow theater, are held regularly every year, usually during the summer. Many editions of these courses have benefited from the collaboration with UNIMA, which has granted scholarships.
It is extremely rewarding to note that many artists who have participated in these courses have established collaborations among themselves to further develop artistic projects and research.
Therefore, the courses not only provide skills in the field of animation theater but also create a very deep connection among the participants, who share accommodation and meals, even bathing in the same river. This creates emotional bonds that go beyond the course itself, which is fundamental in the artistic field: establishing meaningful relationships with others.
I believe that living in a wild space constantly tests us, especially for those of us accustomed to city life. The space challenges our limits, our fears, and strengthens our abilities.
Wild, unknown nature awakens states of awareness that we often forget in our daily routines. In this environment, creativity flows differently, and emotions take on extraordinary depth. Our instincts sharpen when immersed in the wild.
I believe that this altered state gives rise to a unique aesthetic perception in art.
The interaction between the territory and culture in the Vale Arvoredo Valley represents a living manifestation of ecosystem theory, where nature is not merely a surrounding environment but melds with the creative act.
This fusion creates a total immersion experience, inviting artists to leave behind their conventional creative habits to reframe their experiences and learn from the natural environment.
Here, art is not just an individual expression but a conversation with the ecosystem, a concept that resonates with Capra's (1997) vision of the interconnectedness of all life systems.
ON WHAT ECONOMIC MODEL IS THE VALE ARVOREDO ARTISTIC RESIDENCY BASED?
In 2021, we founded the Vale Arvoredo Artistic Residency Space Association, a non-profit entity that streamlined the management of our space.
This initiative allowed for more effective management of resources, partnerships, donations, and international agreements, expanding the network of collaboration among artists, environmental activists, educators, farmers, and administrators, all united by the mission of integrating art, nature, and sustainability.
In 2023, we were recognized as a "Ponto de Cultura" by the Cultura Viva program, a Brazilian federal public policy that supports existing cultural activities, promoting social participation, collaboration, and shared management of cultural policies.
This designation has transformed the Association into a reference point for the exploration of meaningful connections between culture and agriculture, drawing inspiration from Bernardo Toro's care paradigm and promoting new approaches to art in everyday life.
In this way, private ownership was transferred to the Association, turning it into a space open to cooperation with artists, public institutions, non-governmental organizations, and companies, provided they are involved in sectors related to culture, education, sustainable energy, creative economy, sciences, ecology, and the conservation of native flora and fauna.
The commitment to obtaining the "Ponto de Cultura" title was equally significant. With this recognition, Vale Arvoredo can now serve as a central hub for cultural and artistic activities, facilitating exchanges and collaborations that enrich the local and regional community.
This status can also contribute to securing financial support for future projects.
The philosophy of the Vale Arvoredo Artistic Residency Space is deeply rooted in social participation through art and respect for nature.
Therefore, we seek to adopt a cross-cutting approach that integrates art, education, technology, integrative processes, nature, and our cultural heritage.
Our main goal is to maintain a natural environment in balance and promote a system of mutual cooperation among all members of the association, in order to support creative economy and the conservation of green spaces.
However, it has not been an easy task, as we do not have public or private funding, and all collaborators must manage their lives outside of their work for our space.
As a result, we try to plan an annual agenda that allows us to distribute responsibilities for coordinating activities among the association members.
Regarding Vale Arvoredo's objectives, our primary aim is to be a space dedicated to artistic research and creation, closely connected to the local ecosystem.
This connection with nature and the beings that inhabit it should serve as a catalyst for art.
Furthermore, we aspire to promote a system of experiential learning based on Bernardo Toro's "Paradigm of Care."
In other words, Vale Arvoredo is committed to being a place where learning occurs in harmony with the surrounding environment, emphasizing care for nature and interpersonal relationships.
Another motivation guiding our action is to make the space a catalyst for the creative economy.
We aim to inspire new processes in everyday life and promote the rediscovery of meanings related to culture and agriculture, emphasizing the importance of sustainability and social responsibility.
Regarding future projects, with the expansion of our network of collaborations, the Association aims to promote the exchange of experiences and cooperation among groups and artists from different locations, both national and international.
Furthermore, we intend to continue offering practical and theoretical training to artists through meaningful experiences, contributing to the development of individual or collective research and exploring new forms and languages related to creative processes.
From an administrative perspective, we will continue to seek supporters and sponsors to achieve our goals.
Currently, our main objective is to attract new partnerships and collaborate with collaboration networks because through these strategic alliances, Vale Arvoredo can develop more self-sustaining projects and generate alternative sources of funding, thus contributing to the development of cultural and ecological initiatives while remaining aligned with the principles of connection and responsibility towards our planet.
WHAT IS THE VALE ARVOREDO ARTISTIC RESIDENCY SPACE?
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