At the Taobuk Festival 2024 the “Identity” that teaches how to cultivate otherness


By John

The idea that what we call “identity” can only derive from a comparison with otherness has very ancient roots. “Being and diversity pass through everything” Plato already wrote in the Sophist. Yet what prevailed in Western culture was – and in part still is – a self-referential conception, also of classical origin, whereby identity is equivalent to sameness, understood as the equality of the subject to himself, completely distinct and above all distant from the other-from-the-self. We will have to wait until the twentieth century to see the interconnection between ego and alteron fully explained on a relational level and valorised as mutual enrichment, based on tolerance and sharing, in a continuous exercise of recognition and mirroring. A teaching still unheeded by those who continue to repudiate otherness and cultivate conflicts.

In the wake of this cultural and philosophical journey the 2024 edition of Taobuk Festival will be dedicated to the theme of identity, to understand its problematic nature, share its richness, overturn its meaning. The intent is to recover a concept of identity that always has at its center our relationship with the other, our being with the world, quoting Emmanuel Lévinas, as a determining factor of our being in the world. Therefore, a festival with a plural and inclusive vision, such as Taobuk wants to be, chooses the word “identity” as the theme of the 14th edition, with particular attention to the two contrasting meanings and their (re)configuration in the varied contemporary context.

It’s this one the new challenge of the international event conceived and directed by Antonella Ferrara, which will take place in Taormina from 20 to 24 June, with the support of the Sicilian Region – Department of Tourism, Sport and Entertainment. Once again, a multidisciplinary program is emerging for Taobuk – whose Scientific Committee is chaired by journalist Nino Rizzo Nervo – which, starting from the combination of literature, music, theatre, cinema and visual arts, will expand to geopolitics, medicine and science , thanks to the contribution of incisive protagonists of our time.

Over 200 international guests – writers, artists, scientists, intellectuals, politicians and economists – will join the prestigious recipients of the Taobuk Awards, which will be the Norwegian for literature Jon Fosse (Nobel Prize 2023)the American Jonathan Safran Foerthe French one Yasmina Rezawhile for the visual arts the recognition will go to the artist of Serbian origins Marina Abramovic. The delivery will take place on the evening of Saturday 22 June at the Teatro Antico during the Taobuk Gala, a show that will be broadcast, as usual, on Rai1.

And always in the Ancient Theater of Taormina on June 23rd at 9.00 pm Alessandro Baricco will present his new show, Thucydides. Athens against Melo, of which he is the author and director. Baricco will be on stage as a narrator, supported by the actresses Stefania Rocca and Valeria Solarino and accompanied by the 100 Cellosan ensemble of cellists founded and directed by Enrico Melozzi and Giovanni Sollima, who also composed the original music for the occasion.

After the two previous editions focused on “truth” and “freedom”, the in-depth analysis of the multifaceted expressions of identity arises from a consequential continuity of reflection that the festival has gradually developed. As Antonella Ferrara, president and artistic director of Taobuk, who will illustrate the theme on Monday 5 February at 2.00 pm in Milan, as part of the International Tourism Exchange, observes: «The reference to the root idem, that is, same, identical, appears reductive if not misleading, because it defines identity as equality with oneself and extraneousness to everything else. Starting from the Short Century and today more than ever, the perspective has been reversed: where individuals and peoples are at the same time bearers of specificity and permeated by universality. And this is why homologations flatten and fundamentalisms divide. And on the other hand we know what extraordinary results a widespread synergy between individuals and communities of different ethnic groups, civilizations and religions produces, an objective that is not at all obvious and which still represents a priority at a global level.”

The production of the writers who this year will receive the Taobuk Award for Literary Excellence naturally revolves around identity, starting from the Norwegian playwright and narrator Jon Fosse, aimed at searching for the supreme meaning of existence, conducted in masterpieces such as Melancholia and the world-book Septology, which earned him the 2023 Nobel. We must also underline his identity journey that led him to convert to Catholicism, evoking “a God that man cannot do without”. Jonathan Safran Foer has also dedicated in-depth attention to the topic. In Every Thing Is Illuminated he in fact highlights a search for his own roots, along a biographical path in which pain and love, past and present continually intersect. Yasmina Reza has, for her part, explored identity in interpersonal relationships thanks to a writing vitality that sees her as a narrator, playwright and film screenwriter, capable of exploring the condition humaine without censorship, highlighting it in its chiaroscuro and its ambiguities .
The Taobuk Award for the visual arts was awarded to Marina Abramovic who, with her performing art, identified the sense of identity in the field of human relations precisely in the ability and willingness to rely on each other, in an interaction that is continually rediscovered of himself.