How did the idea for TERRA TERRA come about? 

TERRATERRA was born out of the desire to do a project in Puglia, the region where I was born and raised, and to relate my experience and the various relationships with artists that I have cultivated over many years in Milan and around Europe. This desire has always accompanied me over time, but it was only during the lockdown that I was able to fine-tune the project, to think about it, and then everything took off very quickly. I was interested in experimenting and creating a project that would put the ancient and localised tradition of ceramics in dialogue with the research and work of international artists from the world of contemporary art.

Only recently has ceramics entered the international contemporary art scene and more and more artists have become interested in this medium. How did this interest in this material come about for you?

I grew up in Oria and since I was a child I have been a regular visitor to Grottaglie. A place I know very well and where I had the opportunity to get to know the ceramic workshops of the local artisans. I always thought I wanted to find a way to work with these craftsmen While I was working in the gallery at Kaufmann Repetto, I had the opportunity to share my love of ceramics with Francesca and Chiara and also to get to know many artists who worked with this material. 

I am reminded of the work of Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, a 90-year-old artist from Los Angeles who makes sculptures inspired by the pop and television imagery of cartoons. I think I have always been fascinated by ceramics because it is a material that has always been considered minor, borderline compared to other contemporary artistic materials and techniques, as painting is for example. So I was interested in thinking about these limits and boundaries that have been drawn and finding a new intersection of the various worlds that revolve around ceramics as an artistic medium.

TERRATERRA - Ceramic workshop, Enza Fasano, Grottaglie, 2021 - Courtesy TERRATERRA
How does the TERRA TERRA residency take place? 

The residency has a short duration, between two and three weeks, and its beating heart is the relationship that is created between the artist and the local craftsmen who guide the production of the ceramic object, also giving a lot of space to experimentation on the material itself. 

During the residency, this guiding link is fundamental for the final restitution, which does not involve an exhibition but a dinner where the craftsmen who collaborated, the artists, friends and supporters are invited. A table is set with the objects made by the artist and dishes are created in collaboration with local chefs.

Year after year, I would like this convivial moment to become a fixed appointment, where each time all the participants of the various editions of the residence would be brought together.

TERRATERRA - , Xinyi Cheng at work in the workshop, Grottaglie, 2021 - Courtesy TERRATERRA
TERRATERRA - Ceramic workshop, Enza Fasano, Grottaglie, 2021 - Courtesy TERRATERRA
Can you tell us something about the next residence?

Judith Hopf is the invited artist for the second iteration of TERRATERRA, which will be a somewhat dislocated residency, taking place in two phases between April and July. I thought her work was very suitable and in line with the spirit of the south, very ironic and intelligent even in dealing with challenging issues related to politics, architectural barriers and work. I think it is interesting to bring this way of thinking about a work of art into the production of a ceramic object of use, thus bringing into play a register considered high with one always considered lower, where the function of the object itself can be questioned. The object conceived by Judith fully satisfies the spirit of Terraterra: it will be a pitcher-gallet, a subject that generates continuity with the traditional decoration of Apulian ceramics, but whose proportions will be a little accentuated, a little off. On the edge of usability.

TERRATERRA - Dish, Final dinner of Xinyi Cheng's residency, 2021 - Courtesy TERRATERRA
TERRATERRA - Final dinner of Xinyi Cheng's residency, 2021 - Courtesy TERRATERRA
TERRATERRA - Dish, Final dinner of Xinyi Cheng's residency, 2021 - Courtesy TERRATERRA


TERRATERRA is an invitation-only art residency programme dedicated to ceramics that takes place in the Ceramics Quarter of Grottaglie. Each year, up to three international artists are invited to individual residencies of varying lengths with a local artisan, with the aim of designing an object for the table, which is then produced in a limited edition. Each residency ends with a dinner specially prepared by a local chef and served on the newly produced tableware. Xinyi Cheng (Wuhan, 1990, lives and works in Paris) is the artist invited for the first edition of Terraterra, which will be hosted by Enza Fasano's historic family business.
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