Castello di Ama

The Project

In Situ installations conceived and created by the artist in dialogue with the genius loci.

Castello di Ama has for many years produced Grandi Vini di Terroir, great wines rich in terroir, wines fully able to stand up to the passing of many years, but we were certain that their terroir, this magical corner of earth, harboured the power to speak to the hearts of artists, to stimulate their sensitivities, and, through its genius loci, to widen the horizons of knowledge.  

The contemporary art project in Ama began in 1999, in collaboration with Lorenzo Fiaschi and Galleria Continua. On average, one commission has been added every year. Philip Larratt-Smith was appointed as the project’s curator in 2015, working with Castello di Ama to select the artists.

The project, founded on these premises, sets itself the goal of making the invisible accessible, and aims to leave for the future a tangible message in a universal language.

Ama, located in the commune of Gaiole in Chianti, in the province of Siena, is a tiny hamlet perched on a rise at some 500 metres’ elevation, in an enchanted landscape that conjures up the frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli.

Strolling among the late 18th-century villas that make up the village, one feels that time has stayed still, since the three centuries since their construction have left no trace.

The reasons that nothing of any artist merit was ever added are various, but at their heart is certainly the deep poverty that oppressed the area with the economic collapse of the Chianti region. 

Today, now that wine has returned to reign here and function as the economic powerhouse of the district, it is our duty to make up for that historical wound to such a beautiful area and to therefore build the future perfect, as it were.

Genius, in Greek philosophy, was a divinity who represented all generated objects and who at the same time was able to generate them. St. Augustine defined Genius as the talent which invents and creates, but it was Kant who gave a much more in-depth characterisation in his “Critique of Judgment”, defining it as the talent for discovery. The Genius is he who incarnates the possibility of discovering; he may not understand fully that discovery, but he must be capable of producing something masterful, something, that is, that will serve as a benchmark for all. Our term Genius derives from Genius, since it is simply the ability given by Nature to Man, at his birth, that drives him to bring forth things of originality. When loci, the Latin genitive of locus, or “place,” is added, it specifies the unique genius specific to an individual place.

The term terroir is used in oenology to define the uniqueness of a specific wine. It is pictorially represented by a triangle whose angles indicate the land, the climate, and the grape variety, and at whose centre is man himself. Only a few growing areas rise to the level of terroir, and a vineyard that lacks terroir is like a de-consecrated church: it seems to lack nothing, but in truth it lacks that which is most important. 

Staying at Ama, listening to its stories, breathing in its air, enjoying its wine: this is the best way for us to introduce ourselves. And in this way the Artist becomes fecundated by the Genius Loci, just as the Winemaker by the Terroir, and creates something masterful, unrepeatable, specific to that one unique spot. Here and nowhere else. One artwork per year, with the same rhythm as the harvests.