The Valley Community of Fiemme (Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme) is a union of eleven municipalities in the Trentino-Alto Adige region that has existed for more than nine hundred years. This once free and autonomous administrative structure comprises to date nine Italian-speaking villages or communes—Predazzo, Ziano, Panchià, Tesero, Cavalese, Varena, Daiano, Carano, Castello-Molina di Fiemme—one Ladin-speaking community called Moena, and the German-speaking municipality of Truden.
“Walter Niedermayr: coexistences”
October 25, 2017 – February 2, 2018
AUT. Architektur und Tirol
Lois-Welzenbacher-Platz 1, Innsbruck
The cornerstone of this Allmende-like concept was laid in 1111 by a pact that granted the Valley Community administrative autonomy, its own jurisdiction, and certain tax and duty concessions. For centuries, the most important economic and social decisions were made together via an administration structure similar to that of a peasant quasi-republic.
Although the political and economic autonomy of the Fiemme Valley deteriorated increasingly in the nineteenth century as a result of the changing geopolitical situation, what has remained to this day is the institution of the Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme, which governs the collective ownership of its lands, forests, and pastures and divvies up the economic profits obtained therefrom among all the vicini. Today, life in the valley-community is still pervaded by the value system codified in the statues of the Magnifica, which are based on solidarity and conceived as a socioeconomic principle that considers all property to be unalienable and indivisible common property. This legal framework and the resulting social and economic solidarity, which corresponds in its basic tenets to the philosophy of the now internationally discussed commons movement, have given rise to specific morphologies of the villages with urban-style edifices and a high spatial density, with a fascinating layering between public and private spaces, surprising circulation situations, hybrid house conglomerates and multidimensionally used structures.
The South Tyrolean artist Walter Niedermayr – internationally known for his photographic studies of space as reality occupied and shaped by people – has been studying and photographing the specific building culture in the Fiemme Valley for many years. Over the course of seven years he photographed the Valley Community, took roughly 10,000 preliminary photos—and based on them has focused on certain images—conducted conversations with the inhabitants, and studied relevant books and documents on the extensive history of the Valley. He immersed himself in the subject matter through scholarly papers, direct spatial experience on his countless visits, and above all through the personal accounts of “natives.” He constructed from this his distanced but subjectively focused gaze and photographically analyzed the idiosyncrasies of the structures of the spaces and buildings. He also directed his attention at unadorned everyday life, at the mundane present situation of building extensions, additions, new floors, and well-meaning restorations.
A selection of these photographs by Walter Niedermayr can be seen in the exhibition “Coexistences” designed by the Vienna-based firm PAUHOF Architekten (Michael Hofstätter and Wolfgang Pauzenberger). Along with interviews with Fiemme Valley inhabitants and published material documenting the valley-community, the exhibition paints a detailed picture of this unique valley and its urbanesque village structures. Furthermore, the exhibition also raises a much more general question as to what extent the historically founded tradition of the Allmende could be a way to sustainably develop the landscape based on the ‘spirit of the commons’, especially in the small-scale cultural and economic area in the Alps.
In conjunction with the exhibition “Walter Niedermayr: Coexistences” Hatje Cantz will publish an eponymous book with over 180 photographs by Walter Niedermayr and texts by the writer Girogio Falco and the philosopher Florentina Hausknotz.
Born 1952; lives in Bolzano. Since the 1980s Walter Niedermayr has been developing projects in which he investigates space as a reality occupied and shaped by man. Spatial perception and spatial atmosphere in both open and closed spaces have been recurring themes in his photographic and video works. He constantly revisits and explores such sites as alpine regions, urban, architectural, and industrial structures, as well as prisons and hospitals. This can be seen in the series of works Alpine Landschaften (Alpine Landscapes) since 1987, Raumfolgen (Space Con/Sequences) since 1991, Rohbauten (Shell Constructions) since 1997, Artefakte (Artifacts) since 1992, and Bildraum (Image-Space) since 2001. Niedermayr completed the series Iran between 2005 and 2008, and he has been working on The Aspen Series since 2009. In 2012 he started his new series Portraits. Between 2011 and 2014 Walter Niedermayr taught fine art photography at the Faculty of Design and Art, Free University of Bozen/Bolzano.