This photographic project is about the first intercultural and interreligious school of “Alice Project”, founded in 1994 in Sarnath (India). The school is generously open to the lower social classes and adopt innovative teaching methods.
The “Alice Project” is the result of the commitment of two Italian teachers, Luigina De Biasi and Valentino Giacomin, who from the 80s had developed and successfully tested in three government schools in Italy a revolutionary teaching method, nowadays regarded as the “new Montessori”. This method was set up to respond to a negative trend in growth in the new generations: every year, new students had an increasing of behavior problems, less attention and concentration, increasing of cases of dyslexia (difficulty in reading and writing) and other learning disorders.
The method of Giacomin and De Biasi was named from the “Alice in Wonderland” novel by Carroll: as the protagonist of the book, in fact, students are advised to follow a path of self-knowledge, also sometimes by upsetting the classic western cognitive models and having meditation, prayers, yoga, ayuverdic massage as daily activities. Initially, there were only 75 students and four teachers. Today, after 20 years of operation, the school has more than a thousand students, 43 teachers, and is officially recognized by the Indian government as a non-governmental organization (NGO) “Awakening Special Universal Education”.
Q&A with Maria Concetta Cardamone
For me photography means to accept and to be in contact with things as they are. At the same time it takes a responsibility: you have to give your own interpretation of the world. In few words photography for me is a “conscious act” and a way of life.
Photography and writing…
Photography and writing are as soul mates, they are often complementary each other. There are writings full of vivid images, when you read at the same time see the scenes, and there are photographs so clear that you can literrally “read” them. Both give the opportunity to express inner worlds and to know the ones outside.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
I received a great impression from meeting Tiffany Coates, a woman who lives in Cornwall and has toured all over the world on a motorcycle. Other important meetings among photographers are with Letizia Battaglia, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Fausto Podavini, Pentti Sammallahti.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Sicily, a warm and beautiful place but with some contraddictions and problems that push young people to search their destiny and self realization far away. I did so. But a Sicilian, wherever goes, carries inside his homeland and probably will always talk to his children of the smell of orange blossom and jasmine on the seashore.
I work in photography since 2008, following a training which included courses such as “History and technique of photography” with Angelo Pitrone at the University of Palermo, workshop of Ancient printing techniques at Palermophoto and course of Reportage with Fausto Podavini. I have exhibited both in solo and group exhibitions in Italy and abroad, with both reportage and artistic works.