The fourth edition of Glasstress – conceived by Fondazione Berengo and Berengo Studio of Murano (Venice) and dedicated to the relation between contemporary art and glass  – presents this year the extraordinary participation of the State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, with the curatorship of its Director of the Contemporary Arts Department, Dimitri Ozerkov, and Adriano Berengo, President of the harmonious Foundation, and picks the Gothic theme as central idea, crossing important loans of medieval and neo-gothic glass with the new glass creations of 50 artists, coming from over 20 countries, chosen between the biggest names of international art and young new proposals.


Gotika is a synonym for diversity. The Gothic style – synthesis of the previous ideas and of different cultures – represented a new world view, which from architecture, with the invention of the pointed arch, arrived to touch multiple environments of the western civilization, transpassing the boundaries and becoming a common language between many countries.

The same phenomenon happens today with contemporary art and globalization, and it is in this precise context that the meditation over biodiversity finds its place. Cinzia Scaffidi, Vice President of Slow Food Italy, indicates biodiversity as a value capable of becoming art, which Koen Vanmechelen – conceptual artist who in his works has always being dealing with the themes of diversity and bio- and cultural identity – has developed in the Life Bank Project.

In the setting that once hosted the Bank of Venice, in Palazzo Franchetti, today the seat of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti, the artist Koen Vanmechelen positioned, as opening gate of an evocative gothic garden, two big black bronze hands, one male and one female, symbolic guardians of two extremely delicate sculptures made of Murano glass, representing a little chick and a heap of scattered seeds. Between the antique wooden furniture, a new bank has taken on a life of its own, substituting currency with the real patrimony of our civilization: the seed!


Over 500 seeds establishing the “Bank of Life” – ancient seeds that have been lost, forgotten, collected and conserved by “resilient” farmers and specialized research centers – have been selected for the project to represent the genetic heritage of our culture and our millenary history.


The selection was curated by Piergiorgio Defilippi, founder of the bio-social Farm Il Rosmarino, Marcon (Venice), starting from a cereal that is the symbol of the evolution of our civilization: the Einkorn Wheat, whose history dates back to the Neolithic and traces the transition from the nomadic hunting to the stancial and rural settlement. The seeds catalogue followed the development of the typically mediterranean diet, with the choice of varieties, even for the most common ones, that have not been artificially hybridized but which represent the natural path of evolution. For this precise reason, with respect of the spirit of Slow Food “Terra Madre”, the locating of the seeds has been exclusively conducted through the direct contact with farmers, associations of safeguard and research centres spread all over the world.


The interaction with the public and the multi-sensoriality express themselves through a symbolic seeding which tracks back to the thought of the Japanese botanist and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) – video interview Part 1 and Part 2  – pioneer of the natural or “Do Nothing” agriculture and author of the now legendary essay “The One-Straw Revolution”.


From the seeding with Fukukuoka’s clay-seed-balls, balls that later will be housed in real pots full of soil, in order to generate life within the exhibition, the journey proceeds towards two very special tastings, created with the very same cereals, by the starred chef Pietro Leemann, patron chef of the vegetarian Restaurant Joia in Milan and Ambassador for Expo 2015. Leemann, who reached international fame for his complete devotion to the cultural and anthropological values of food, is a teacher in the prestigious Tsuiji Cooking School of Osaka, Japan, and long since has oriented himself towards a vegetarian cooking of the highest level, that has been rightly defined as “spiritual”.


Tino Vettorello, chef of the Restaurant Tre Panoce in Conegliano (Treviso), with the assistance of the professors and students of the School of Hotel and Tourism “E. Cornaroof Jesolo (Venice) has completed, with professionality and passion, the core of the event.


Life Bank, whose organization has been managed by ArtMovie and Slow Food Veneto, with his extremely actual gothic herbarium, is an hymn to life and its evolution, a charming itinerary within which everything mingles. “Gotika-Life Bank, through the installations of Vanmechelen in the context of this Biennial – writes Jil Silverman – works as a call to arms against the mono-cultures and the monololithic ideology of any kind”.


The site specific installation “Life Bank” has been created by the artist Koen Vanmechelen as part of a broader project titled “Awakener Life Bank”, that aims to express, with the shapes of the artistic discourse, the necessity to protect a natural coexistence and contamination between the different animal and vegetal species. For additional info about the project:


The catalogue written by James Putnam and Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts is available via

Photo Goele Schoofs / Tomas Durante / Giorgia Zardetto

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Palazzo Franchetti

S.Marco, 2847 / Campo S. Stefano

Venice / Italy

09.05.2015 / 22.11.2015

10 am -> 6 pm



Monday > Friday 10 am > 6 pm

Live Action with Symbolic seeding

Bread tasting with Ancient Seeds

Saturday > Sunday 10 am > 4 pm

Live Action with symbolic seeding

Bread tasting with Ancient Seeds

Saturday > Sunday 4 pm > 6 pm

Special Event and Gothic-inspired tasting

“Ancient Cereals & Lassi”


The entry ticket for Slow Food Associates and students or professors of the Italian (ReNaIA) or foreign (AEHT) Hotel and Tourism Schools presents particularly convenient discounts:


*The single ticket costs €8,00 instead of €10,00

*The group ticket of at least 10 associates with single booking costs €5,00 each.


In both scenarios the booking is mandatory and the Slow Food membership card or the ID Document from the Hotel and Tourism School has to be shown to the Ticket Office.
The payment will take place at the Ticket Office in Palazzo Franchetti.


For bookings and general info/


Fondazione Berengo

Palazzo Franchetti

S.Marco, 2847

30124 Venice, Italy


Has been realized by


Adriano Berengo

President Fondazione Berengo

& Curator Glasstress 2015 Gotika

Dimitri Ozerkov 

Director of the Contemporary Arts Department of the State Hermitage Museum

and Curator Glasstress 2015 Gotika

Loris Vianello   

Vice President Fondazione Berengo

Koen Vanmechelen / Artist

Life Bank Installation Concept and Production

Cinzia Scaffidi / Vice Presidente Slow Food Italia

Biodiversity concept development

Mauro Pasquali / Presidente Slow Food Veneto

Slow Food Operational coordination

Piergiorgio Defilippi / Bio-Social Farm “Il Rosmarino”

Seeds Selection and Multi-sensorial Space for Biodiversity production

Pietro Leemann / Restaurant Joia

Tastings’ Artistic Direction in the Multisensorial Space for Biodiversity

Tino Vettorello / Restaurant Tre Panoce

Gruppo Ristoratori della Marca Trevigiana

Tastings’ Cooking and Organization

Ist. Alb. “E. Cornaro” / Jesolo

Assistance Multi-sensorial Space for Biodiversity

Nadia Taiga 

Project Manager Glasstress 2015 Gotika

Anita Braghetta 

Executive Assistance Glasstress 2015 Gotika

Giorgia Zardetto

Life Bank Project Assistant

Adriana Zanchi

Life Bank Exhibition Assistant


Life Bank Project Management and Communication