Design MAST Festival Returns to Scicli

MAST Festival Returns to Scicli

Anna Frattini

From August 10th to 13th, the MAST Festival will take place in Scicli, in the province of Ragusa, focusing on music, art, sustainability, and the local territory. The theme for this third edition is “AERE’, related to man’s relationship with the atmosphere.The music selection mainly features electronic sounds, and it aims to merge this aspect with visual art to create an authentic collective experience. MAST is a long-term project that extends beyond the three days of the festival, aiming to be a platform for expressing and showcasing ongoing research work.

«This edition of MAST virtually abandons the solidity of rock and the earth element to hover (and free itself..) in the domain of the ethereal, of speed and of the atmospheric agents, the diligent workers of the planet, capable with their incessant fervour of shaping the mountains and stormy peaks.» This statement serves as the starting point for this year’s edition, the third one after many changes over the years. The festival returns to reconstruct and embark on a new cycle. But how did a festival like this come about, and what sets MAST apart from others after the COVID-19 period? We asked Anastasia Ruta and Francesco Gugliotta, the two individuals behind this incredible project.

How did the concept of the MAST Festival originate?

The project was born from the collaboration of two individuals who are constantly involved in the worlds of visual art, architecture, and creative music entrepreneurship through their professional and artistic experiences. These domains frequently intersect and often take on a single meaning. The concept itself stems from a common need that both of us have carried since adolescence—to access inspiring environments and experiences, particularly in Scicli. This need has grown through personal and cultural enrichment experiences, initially driving us to leave Sicily and make other cities our home. Over the years, we both realized that it was essential for us to bring something back home, to put our experiences and knowledge at the service of the community.

What connection do you have with the festival’s locations, and why did you decide to organize it in Scicli?

Our connection with the festival’s locations, and thus the territory of Scicli, is visceral—a bond deeply marked by both betrayal and forgiveness, all in an island context. This aspect is beautifully described and interpreted by Manlio Sgalambro, with a cameo appearance in Perdutoamor, a film directed by Franco Battiato in 2003. The theologian defines it as the law of belonging: «This land, like Heraclitus and Anaxagoras’ Ionia, is magical and always calls you back, as if it were a right» – to which we’d like to add, sometimes also a curse. Both of us were born and raised in Scicli, and we had the fortune and tenacity to build our lives abroad—where we studied and worked—while always staying connected to Scicli. Until the moment we decided to use ourselves to carry out some projects in the area, convinced of how central culture and art are to the well-being of the community. It is a relationship of love and hate, deep and essential, which often causes us suffering but also gives us great satisfaction.

What sets MAST apart from other festivals?

Considering that MAST is not limited to the three days of the festival but is a long-term project, its distinguishing features are undoubtedly research and experimentation, a constant balance between artistic programming and financial strategy, strategic technical and commercial partnerships with local entities and excellences, and the promotion of artistic and cultural heritage. The city of Scicli (along with the surrounding territory) is dotted with precious monumental spaces, compact suburbs, and interstitial places. Their distribution makes it a place of high historical, cultural, and social intensity.

What are the most challenging aspects of organizing an event like yours?

The greatest and most exciting challenge for our team is to make Scicli known as a cultural hub and a place for artistic discovery. On many occasions, what makes our work more complicated are the bureaucratic and institutional obstacles that often set limits that we hope to overcome with time.

Written by Anna Frattini
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