Doctor Katsuyuki Takenaka, professor of Human Geography at the Department of Foreign Studies at Aichi University, has flown over 13.000km in order to get from Japan to Tarragona and study the interaction model existing between citizens and historical heritage set by Tarraco Viva. Takenaka, who is undertaking an academic research paper, found “universal values represented in a very creative way” in the historical dissemination festival of Tarragona and was surprised about, not just the high level of commitment towards scientific rigour taken by the organisation, but also towards seduction and public engagement. “This is a model that should be taken into consideration in other parts of the world that have ever thought about revitalizing patrimony as collective memory and identity spaces”, says Takenaka.
Katsuyuki, Katsu among his friends, got his specialization by doing some research about the interaction existing between citizens and the physical environment they inhabit. Some years ago, he undertook a study in the Japanese embassy about interior migration in Spain, and it was then that he got to discover Catalonia, a territory he has visited a number of times ever since, specially the Tarragona area, to which he got hooked seven years ago. Experiences and lessons learnt on his trips, he says, have improved his scientific knowledge and allowed him to provide other cultural perspectives rather than the Japanese.
Katsu is not the typical Japanese tourist paying tribute to Gaudi’s brilliance as part of a group. He carries a camera, yes, but he travels alone, learns by himself, and speaks a faultless Catalan, consolidated by sticking his nose in Geography books in Japan and perfected during a stay in Vilafranca. This is not his first time in Tarragona and, if Tarraco Viva wasn’t held during university’s busiest time of the year, he’d manage to come back in future editions. “Tarragona is a city open to contrasts, a node with high capacity of integration. It was built throughout the centuries thanks to cultural fusion, with the harbour as a leverage effect in trade, and working as a meeting point for people from all over the Mediterranean area. Even today, there are many people that were born abroad, but still, the level of cohabitation and social balance is very high”, he states.
He is currently working on a study that will arise different action proposals to restore the use and citizen appreciation of Nagoya’s city canal, which was built a hundred years ago as an industrial transport of goods, but was closed some decades ago.
Katsuyuki got many new ideas in Tarragona. “I incorporate ideas about how people see their city, and how the different patrimonial spaces interact, not just with the personality of every individual, but also with how these end up creating a common identity”, explains. According to this academician, whose research project is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of Japan, “the only way to get an economic advantage from heritage is by making it valuable to those that live around it. Not doing it would lead to trivialisation and loss of interest”.
By means of historical dissemination –by publicly reinterpreting the events and lifestyle of the Romans in emblematic locations of the city– Tarraco Viva intends Heritage to become a driver for social wealth and cultural industry. The target is to complete a large virtuous circle: to generate new resources with this event, so that they can then be allocated to preserve monuments and promote Historical research and dissemination. “Catalan and Japanese people resemble in a way: we both love a job well done; and Tarraco Viva proves that point”, he ends.
“If history was told using dialogs, no one would ever forget it”, wrote the first English Noble Prize, Rudyard Kipling. Tarraco Viva Festival, which is based on this philosophy –telling history using a story–, opens this Sunday under the heading “Roma i Egipte, una fastinació mediterrània” (Rome and Egypt, a Mediterranean fascination). The director of the festival, Magí Seritjol, hints this year’s edition is a statement of intentions of what we can expect in the next years: “We’d like to present, not just the history of Ancient Rome, but the encounter of the two largest classic Mediterranean civilizations”.
Tarraco Viva offers, between 15 and 19 May, a time travel to takes us back to the Roman and Egyptian worlds. Overall, it’s 124 activities, which add up to 436 events, designed with educational purposes in mind. The Praetorium, Amphitheatre, Circus, Forum of the Colony and Walls, will home most of the programmed activities, despite the fact that, as usual, others will take place in towns such as Constantí, Altafulla, Cambrils, Falset or Porrera, to we add which Vila-rodona’s columbarium this year.
The opening ceremony, due on Sunday 15 May in the Sarcophagus room of the Roman Praetorium, will present a debate concerning the relationship existing between these two civilizations that happened to meet in time, with the intervention of several experts in the field: URV’s professor, Joaquín Ruiz de Arbulo; journalist, Enric Calpena; Barcelona Egypt Museum’s curator, Luis Manuel Gonzálvez; URV’s Greek Philosophy teacher, Jesús Carruesco, and the festival’s director, Magí Seritjol, as the debate’s moderator.
Among the different activities programmed, we can find a bit of everything: guided tours, open days to museums, workshops and games, lectures, school activities, audiovisual projections, dramatic readings, concerts, food tastings and successful historical re-enactments. Concerning the latter, there’s two new ones related to this edition’s tittle, whereas others will recreate funerary banquets, feminine prostitution in Rome, gourmets of the antiquity, or the celebrated Ars Dimicandi, with their gladiators shows, or the Ludi Scaenici, which will bring back the Ancient Rome’s music.
The festival will end on Sunday 29, at 6pm, with a spectacular event, due in the Sala August, Palau de Congressos in Tarragona, where users will have the chande to admire the re-enactment performance “Mirades d’Eternitat. Els retrats del Faium” (Eternity gazes. Faium’s portraits).
Pictures: ©Manel R. Granell
Eleven restaurants in Tarragona will offer over 100 Roman cuisine dishes for 17 days, between 13 and 29 May. The event is the 19th edition of the so-called “Tàrraco a Taula” gastronomic workshops, which are part of the Tarraco Viva, the most important Roman festival in the world. These food creations –true delicatessens– will be presented in the form of plates and portions, set menus and Roman-style mussels’ tastings (500g), together with two glasses of wine or beer.
As a matter of fact, one of the new additions to the 19th edition of the festival will be the presentation of two official drinks for the workshops: on the one hand, Rositvm, elaborated by Rosita using orange tree honey; on the other hand, Celler El Mèdol, which created a special natural wine for the occasion.
As for the establishments, both Alhambra and El Cortijo taverns will offer dishes and portions that cost from 3€ to 6€, while Almosta, Cócvla, El Llagut, Entrecopes, Palau del Baró, Sadoll and Txar3Verd restaurants will create 25€ menus. Besides, El Terrat will offer a 35€ menu. Restaurants offering the 500g mussels’ tasting –plus wine or beer– are Alhambra, Cócvla, El Llagut and Txar3Verd, all of which will use their own cooking techniques.
Another tasting event will take place prior to the beginning of the workshops, the so-called “Convivium”, due on 11 May (8pm) in Casa Canals. The Comvivium in fact, will work as the official presentation of the “Tàrraco a Taula” gastronomic workshops, as part of the Tarraco Viva festival. The event will be presented in the form of a free buffet, during which the following dishes will be served: Pernae (pork shank with vermouth and dry peaches), by El Cortijo; Botellus sanguineus triticum in cocvla (spelt cocvla with spinaches, black pudding and green olives), by Cócvla; Ostrea (Delta oyster in pickled oil), by El Llagut; Gadus (cod with dates), by Txar3Verd; Lacertvs conditi sinapi (pickled oil mackerel and mustard salad), by Almosta; and for a dulcia domestica, apple, mint and red wine mousse, by Palau del Baró.
The buffet will cost 25€ and tickets are available in all three Tourism offices (carrer Major 37, Rambla Nova s/n, i Camp de Mart) and the 6 restaurants taking part in the Convivium.
They spend most of their time with relics, busts and temples, and even a mummy but, behind their artistic concept, there’s the vision of someone who presents culture with a depth charge: invocation to essences in order to provide an answer to fundamental questions for our period. This project by Jesús Mendiola and Emma Zahonero is known as MV Arte, a workshop specialized in preserving and restoring works of art, responsible in the last few years of spectacular creations for the Tarraco Viva, the Roman history re-enactment festival of Tarragona.
Jesús and Emma’s speciality is a meticulous use of visual arts techniques usually used back in the Antiquity, high-level artistic and pedagogic demonstrations that are much more than what we can see, and that provide the festival with content. Two years ago, MV Arte really made a difference when bringing the original colours back to the Augusto de Prima Porta, thanks to an intense previous work. In 2016, the workshop is back again with a number of pieces that will help users experience a cultural fusion that took place in Egypt 2,000 years ago, under the rule of Rome.
Cultural fusion is the antithesis of imposition, the trend that is furthest to seduction, which is the history dissemination process adopted by the festival, and that has allowed it to be known to the public. “Tarragona is a city with an enviable legacy, not just from the Roman period, and its patrimony has proved that it could become a trademark with a capacity to generate resources. And that’s thanks to the Tarraco Viva, which created a new way of explaining history, with narrations of incredibly varied subjects, and gathered experts from different disciplines all at once”, explains Emma. Over 100.000 spectators per year prove this project is a true success.
Zahonero and Mendiola met while taking part in their degree in Fine Arts, in Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and it was when living in Cantabria, in the early 00s, that they found out about Tarraco Viva. “During a Roman plastics workshop in Julióbriga, Cantabria, we were told to visit the history re-enactment festival of Tarragona. Even back then, it was considered the best one of its characteristics in Europe”, explains Zahonero. This very first contact was a true revelation for the couple. MV Arte settled in the Tarragona area in 2007, and has collaborated with the festival since 2008.
The workshop’s duty is to create facsimile editions of ancient artworks for museums and, most of all, to preserve the originals; most of them, historical objects property of the Tarragona Archbishopric. Besides, MV Arte got involved in the most recent restoration stage of the Tarragona Cathedral, and led, among others, the works that allowed the recovery of both the disposition and original colours of the outstanding gothic altarpiece located in the Capella dels Sastres (14th century), one of the Temple’s main attractions. According to Jesús Mendiola though, good part of the most valuable heritage in Tarragona is still hidden from public for no good reason.
“Many cities really make the most of what they have. An earthquake left the town of Lorca with no archaeological museum, for instance; they have now rebuilt it and designed a new town project, which has involved the whole town’s population. Tarragona has great potential; they should learn from them. I find it very weird that the vast collection of tapestries of the Cathedral can’t be seen, or that some palaces in the city are closed. We believe Tarraco Viva is a seed with the capacity to shake the city, build a story, a management experience, and develop its potential. Above all though, we should not forget to water this seed”, says Mendiola.
Materials Jesús and Emma have been working on for the last months will certainly stand out in the 8th edition of Tarraco Viva. The workshop takes part directly in three new shows: “Mòmia. El viatge al més enllà” (“Mummy. A journey to the hereafter”, designed in collaboration with Argos, Serveis Culturals), about the mummification process of corpses in the ancient Egypt; “Sopant a les portes de Duat” (“Having dinner in the edge of Duat”) about the Egyptian funerary banquet, and “Mirades d’eternitat. Els retrats del Faium” (“Eternity gazes. Faium’s portraits”, together with Argos and Projecte Phoenix), about a number of funerary portraits that represent a meeting point between both the Egyptian and Roman culture.